A110 International Harvester Pickup Gets an Encore

International encore: Aurelia, Iowa, man restored 1959 A110 International Harvester Pickup in honor of farm favorite

| September 2011

When Jack Johnson purchased a 1958 International Harvester pickup in 1965, the retired Aurelia, Iowa, farmer thinks he probably gave about $600 (about $4,300 today) for what seemed to be a pretty good vehicle. He and his son traveled by train from nearby Cherokee to Sioux City, Iowa, to pick it up. He had no doubt the pickup would serve him well in his diversified operation. 

“Like most farmers at that time, I didn’t have a lot of money,” Jack says. “I hauled water all the time and needed the pickup for that chore and a number of other ones.” Once the pickup outlived its usefulness, he retired it to a spot in the farm’s shelterbelt. In the back of his mind, though, he held onto the idea of restoring the battered vehicle.

When the time came, Jack launched a search for replacement parts. He found more than he’d bargained for. “I started reading want ads in the Sioux City Journal,” Jack says. “That led me to a 1959 model. Once I brought the ’59 home I could see it was actually in better condition than my ’58.” At that point, Jack decided to restore the 1959 model (an A110) and use the ’58 for parts. The first thing he did was hire a local mechanic to overhaul the Black Diamond engine.

“Without power steering, the pickup steered so hard that I had to modify it with a Chevrolet part,” he explains. “When you do that, you need a steering post and different steering wheel, so that’s a Chevrolet part too. Without power brakes it was hard to stop, and that’s not good if you’re in a parade.”

Making it his own

He also replaced a worn seat with a custom-designed piece. “It’s primarily black except for about a 12-inch red area that runs across the width of the seat,” he says. The color scheme Jack used (red paint with black trim, and the top of the cab is black) varies somewhat from the original, but that only enhances the appeal for him.

“It really makes me feel good to look at the pickup and see it all cleaned up,” he says. “On the inside of each door there’s a panel you can take off. I had those painted black. The dash has a lot of black on it, too. On the dash, just below the windshield, is a 6-inch wide area that’s red. And we carpeted the floor with a black, short shag rug.”