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Historical Look at a Pristine 1974 International 200 4x4 Camper Special

Backward Glances

Jim AllenPhotographer, Writer

When the ’74 model year International Light Trucks debuted, only a few outside the International Harvester (IH) boardroom knew the light trucks were on the chopping block; the blade poised for a decapitation. The perennial problem was per-unit profitability. International simply didn’t build enough trucks to be able to match the prices of other mass-produced trucks on the market. As a result, their IH trucks were somewhat overpriced for the market and there was little choice in the matter. It was that or sell at a loss. Furthermore, the dealers were nowhere near “Main Street” where the general public easily could see the great line of trucks IH offered. International dealers were found at the outskirts of town or in the industrial sections, sold alongside tractors, agriculture equipment, and big trucks. These were places most non-commercial light truck buyers didn’t go.

From the corporate angle, International Harvester was a bit schizophrenic. It had many different divisions—some profitable, some not so much, but almost none in the non-commercial area. The centrally controlled division competed internally for resources, rather than being independent and managed on its own. This business model had worked for IH for many decades, but as with most big companies, major changes in foundational structure come slowly.

It became increasingly clear that the Light Line, which included the legendary Scout, no longer fit the IH business model. Some in the boardroom had harped for many years to excise the Light Line completely. By the end of 1974, that process was underway and though an abbreviated ’75 model line debuted, the last International light truck rolled off the line on April 28 and that was that. The Scout carried the Light Line load until the end of 1980, when it too was cut for largely the same reasons.

The overall light truck model line had been consolidated for 1974. The four-digit model designations were replaced by three digits. The 1210 3/4-ton and 1310 1-ton 4x4s were replaced by the 200 line, which came in a range of three GVWs: 6,800, 7,200 or 7,700 pounds on a 132-inch wheelbase. Body types included a chassis cab, standard (step side) bed, and Bonus Load (smooth side) beds.

A large selection of engines was available. The base was the 6-258, AMC’s 258ci inline-six, which made 113 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. Next up was the V-304A, which cranked out 137 hp and 133 lb-ft. A very popular choice for the 200 line was the V-345 two-barrel engine that put out 144 hp and 263 lb-ft (or 156 hp/269 lb-ft with dual exhaust). The top-dog engine was the V-392 International: a four-barrel medium-duty truck engine that made 179 hp and 297 lb-ft (or 193 hp/305 lb-ft with dual exhaust). Both of the bigger engines were stump pullers that delivered peak horsepower at 3,600 rpm, and the only significant difference between them and the medium-duty truck installation was a governor and tuning.

The powertrain also had lots of options, starting with a standard T-331 three-speed manual. From there, you had the choice of wide (T-427) or close ratio (T-428) four-speed manuals and even a pair of five-speed manuals, one with an overdrive Fifth (T-494) and one a close-ratio box for towing (T-496) with a 1:1 Fifth. The automatic was Chrysler’s TF727 Torqueflite (IH T-407), a new addition for International that replaced a Borg-Warner unit. The standard transfer case was a single-speed chain drive (TC-143), with a $54 NP205 (TC-142) as an option. The driving front axle was a Dana 44 with a 3,400-pound rating standard and 3,500-pound rating with the higher GVW packages. The rear axle was a Dana 60 full-floater in the 4x4 range with no alternatives.

The interior trim level varied from a bare bones, hose-out truck, to a nicely appointed Deluxe, to the plush Custom, which included carpets and nylon insert seats in four colors. Outside, the Deluxe exterior got you a little extra chrome and hubcaps with 17 color choices. The Custom exterior got you a two-tone paint scheme, with a choice of available two styles.

The truck you see here was bought new by the current owner, Tom Thayer, on March 15, 1974. It’s a 7,700-pound GVW truck, the highest rating you could get in a 200 4x4, with a Bonus Load bed and the Camper Special package. It was the Thayer daily driver until 1983, when his firm gave him a company car. From that point, it was used when a truck was needed, and in all that time, it has only acquired 118,000 miles.

Tom Thayer has an extensive collection of restored or mint-original IH Scouts and trucks, so a few years back he decided the old truck needed a little sprucing up. He sent it down to Scout Connection in Iowa, and they did a frame-off cosmetic restoration, though not much was needed mechanically and the interior was pristine. Now, the truck looks like the day he drove it home from Rich Truck Sales and Service way back in 1974, and it runs just as well too.

The Details:

’74 International 200 4x4 Camper Special

Owner: Tom Thayer
Estimated value: $25,000
Engine: 345ci two-barrel (IH V-345)
Power (hp): 156 @ 3,800
Torque (lb-ft): 287 @ 2,000
Bore & stroke (in): 3.875 x 3.656
Comp. ratio: 8.05:1
Transmission: 4-speed manual, IH T-428 (T-19A close ratio)
Transfer case: 2-speed, IH TC-142 (NP-205)
Front axle: IH FA-63 ( Dana 44, 3,500lb)
Rear axle: IH RA-17 (Dana 60 FF, w/Powr-Lok)
Axle ratio: 3.73:1
Tires: 8.75-16.5, 10-ply
L x W x H (in): 202.8 x 77.6 x 73.8
Wheelbase (in): 132
GVW (lbs): 7,700
Curb weight (lbs): 4,340
Fuel capacity (gal): 16 x 2
Min. grd. clearance (in): 7.3
Approach angle (deg): 24
Departure angle (deg): 22
Ramp breakover (deg): NA