JANUARY 2022: ’68 IHC LOADSTAR 1800—NOW IT’S A ROADKILL-INSPIRED, OPTICAL ILLUSION ON WHEELS

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MyStarCollectorCar has talked about retired farm vehicles for years and it’s always been the same plot—most get retired forever.

They get sentenced to a grim future in the back 40 acres, so after 40 or 50 years these old workhorses become one with nature as they slowly decay into the ground.

Jerry Sutherland

That was the future destiny for this 1968 International Loadstar 1800 3-ton grain truck until fate stepped in to save the big hauler. Jess Bunney was the right guy at the right time when a local farmer stopped at his shop and asked if anyone wanted the old truck. Jess wasn’t interested in the truck in its present form, but he did have a vision for the truck.

TV’s Roadkill once built a wheel-standing 1950 F-6 Ford after they took an old dump truck, chopped the wheelbase, and added a mid-engine, big block Chevy to the mix and called it “Stubby Bob”. Jess thought that was a cool plan, so he took the truck and formulated a game plan for “Bobert”—the new version of the old IHC. Jess said the truck drove “not well”, so it needed an upgrade.

The timing was good because Jess said, “It was a Covid project”, so he needed a project to make up for the extra time he had thanks to the plague. He also had “a lot of parts lying around”, so the cost of the project would be his time—not his wallet. Jess is an automotive tech, so he definitely had the skills to push the project over the finish line. 

The Loadstar had a dashboard fire in its biography, so Jess said he “saved it for the patina”. The 392 cubic inch IHC engine was not an option, because Jess said he needed something that “sat a lot lower in the engine compartment”. He chose a junkyard 350 Chevy with a turbo 350 transmission. Mission accomplished—you can barely see the small block because the fenders sit a lot higher than the 350.

The chopped frame was another piece of the puzzle. This was originally a tandem 4-speed with a split axle, so Jess chopped 12 feet off the chassis and got rid of the tandem wheel set up. He said the chop was so extreme it put the rear wheels “a few inches from the cab”. The driveshaft is only 16” long now.

Jeff listed the capacity of the truck at 72 bushels now—a far cry from its former capacity. The entire box is now a fuel cell for the truck 

Jess did this project at warp speed because it only took two months to build the truck from start to finish. He made his dream come true with Shorty, so the next question was how does it drive?

He had a simple answer—the IHC is very scary past 25-30 miles per hour. Jess said, “it wanders and it’s pretty hoppy. It’s terrible to drive”.  Despite those obvious limitations, Jess is really happy with how the IHC project turned out. It’s an instant conversation starter so he hauls it on a trailer to shows in his area—people flock to it. Jess said women are drawn to the truck because of its looks and men are drawn to it because of the build history.

Jess never gets tired of the looks he gets when the truck is on a trailer, because people come up behind it and think it’s a full-size grain truck. Once they get beside the trailer, they’re shocked to see Shorty’s full size.

Mission accomplished—this old rescued IHC is an optical illusion on wheels.

Jerry Sutherland

By: Jerry Sutherland

Jerry Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer with a primary focus on the collector car hobby. His work has been published in many outlets and publications, including the National Post, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Regina Leader-Post,  Vancouver Sun and The Truth About Cars. He is also a regular contributor to Auto Roundup Publications.

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