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The Marcus Family’s 1967 International Harvester: BFGoodrich's "What Are You Building For?" Contest Winner for June

Blest be the Binder that Ties

You won’t encounter many International Harvesters in the wild. But when you do, you’re sure to meet a passionate caretaker. Referred to by the devout as Cornbinders—a reference to the company’s origins in the agricultural world—Internationals enjoy one of the most dedicated followings in the old-truck world.

Scott Marcus has what he calls a handful of Binders including a panel truck, a rig considered uncommon even by International standards. But it’s this ’67 pickup that owns him. “My grandpa bought it brand-new in 1967,” Scott says. “It’s been in our family its whole life.”

And papa Von’s pickup has quite a story to tell. “Every one of my aunts and uncles, the majority of my cousins, and I learned to drive in this truck,” he says. “Every single dent on this thing has a story from someone in the family.

“My mom bought it from papa when I was in the fifth grade,” he continues, telling stories of camping or hauling firewood in it. “We never babied it; it was always a workhorse for us.” In fact the family took to calling it The Beast, a nickname that never sat quite well with papa. “He thought it was derogatory but all of us loved the truck. No matter what, if every other vehicle on the property was broken down, we always knew we could go out and fire up The Beast.”

Scott drove The Beast through high school but left it with his mom when he went to Army basic training. It moved around, eventually settling back at papa Von’s house where it sat while Scott stationed in Germany. “Then on my 21st birthday my mom officially gave it to me,” Scott says. He went to retrieve it but a failed rear-wheel bearing jettisoned the wheel, hub, axle shaft, and all. “It slingshot about 100 feet in the air,” he says, describing it in equal parts amusement and grief.

After a few more years sitting at Scott’s aunt’s place, he resolved to finally get papa’s old truck back on the road. “But with family, kids, and everything, it kinda got put on the back burner,” he laments.

But just after Memorial Day 2014, motivation to get the truck back on the road struck in the most unfortunate way. Doctors diagnosed papa Von with cancer. “It was a huge surprise; he was one of those larger-than-life people” he says, explaining how just before the diagnosis, Von swept a bunch of trophies from kids a fraction of his age at Bishop Mule Days (Von was a career ranch-hand/foreman in Loma Rica, CA). “By Father’s Day he was completely laid-up. I was trying to get the truck going and driving before he passed. I thought I had more time but I didn’t. So that’s where I’m at now, trying to do the truck the way he really wanted it.”

And how papa Von really wanted it, Scott asserts, was four-wheel-drive. “(It) just wasn’t in the cards at the time,” he say. And as fate (and countless cords of firewood) would have it, the frame bent over time. So Scott is killing two birds with one stone by dropping the sheet metal on a ’73 4x4 chassis.

“I always wanted a bigger engine—it came with a 304 so I got a 392,” he says. Expediency dictates that he runs the Chrysler TorqueFlite 727 bolted to it but Scott hinted that when time and funds allow he’d like to convert it back to the Borg-Warner T19 that papa specified.

Scott says the venerable Dana 44 axles—both equipped with 4.10 gears and the rear with a limited-slip—are perfect for his needs. “Right now I’m thinking 35s,” he says. “I have to put a little bit of body lift because it’s a ’67 body on a ’73 chassis.” He explains that, while the two chassis are remarkably similar in the critical dimensions like wheelbase and width, the combination of old body on new frame needs about 1 1/2-inch clearance in a few spots. “Maybe I’ll use some Chevy square-body springs for about a 2-inch lift,” he says. “Nothing too drastic.”

He’s leaving the body as-is. “That truck has earned every single scar on its body,” Scott says. He admits that he had to rebuild the bed’s front wall but that he’s found it easy to maintain the discipline to preserve the rest. “I like the way it looks and what it means,” he says. “It’s the history of my family.”

And if past performance indicates future results, The Beast will accumulate more of that priceless family history. “My kids (Max, Izzy, and Caleb) are involved in everything I do in the garage,” he says. “As long as I’m not throwing sparks, they’re outside with me. Every single one of ’em has struck an arc a few times.”

They say you never really own a car; you merely take care of it for the next person who comes along. So there’s little doubt it’s going to see another generation in the same family. In fact if there’s any question, it’s how the Marcus kids will divide their time with it!