Bill & Joyce Weaver's 1951 International Pickup
(from Volume 21, Issue 260)

story by owner Bill Weaver • photos by Michael B. Kelly


It’s ironic how a phone call can change everything. Early in 1968, I received a phone call saying I needed to pick up my Granddad from the side of the road. He had been involved in an accident, was unhurt but needed a ride home. His Pickup truck was totaled. As a 19 year old, I had been given the responsibility (well, I was the only one available) to make sure my Granddad got home safely. His 1952 Chevy “Advanced Design” Pickup would never be road worthy again. Not long after that he got another Pickup to help him with the chores on the farm, a usable 1951 International L110, the bottom of the line model from the International Harvester Company. He was in his waning years and the truck didn’t get much use. In a few years, it wasn’t being driven at all. By that time I was out of the Air Force, starting a civilian job and in need of a second set of wheels. Another phone call resulted in the truck coming out of retirement to be my transportation to and from work. By the end of the ‘70’s, the truck’s 90hp motor was so tired it would barely pull itself out of the driveway.

A job change to Florida and the truck would be stored in Tennessee with a friend until I could retrieve it. Five years passed, a divorce happened and I found myself needing a project to occupy some time while my son was away for the summer. The International was hauled from Tennessee to Florida and some work began. Then a certain woman turned my head and the truck was sidelined again. Fast forward 25 years, add another son and a couple of moves later, the truck was languishing in the workshop where it had space, but was being used to support all kinds of “collectibles”.

My younger son was now getting out on his own, so again it was time to do some project work. Progress was slow. A Stage 5, MII independent front suspension with rack and pinion power steering was sourced from Fatman Fabrications and finally completed with my younger sons’ welding skills. Since the pace was slow, my wife encouraged me to get some help or it would never get finished, even when I retired. A phone call was placed to Mike Poquette at Poquette Customs in Haines City, Florida and after some discussions about this and that, it arrived at Mike’s place in late May of 2013. It received a John’s 9-inch Ford rear end with 3.50:1 gears, Ride Tech parallel 4-bar rear suspension, GM 4-wheel disc brakes with an 8-inch booster, a Ride Tech air ride system using Shock Waves, and a healthy GM 383 stroker crate motor from Blueprint Engines sourced from Summit Racing having a 10:1 compression ratio, aluminum heads and the dyno sheet showing it exceeded the 420 hp, 450 lb/ft advertised in the catalog. Accessory brackets are from Billet Specialties. Behind the motor is a GM 700R4 transmission with a 2,000 RPM stall converter, and a Lokar shifter to help get it all under way. Premium gas squirts through an Edelbrock 750 cfm carb under a K&N filter. Exhaust gases exit via Hooker ceramic coated block hugger headers into dual 2-1/2 inch stainless steel pipes and mufflers, to release out the side in front of the rear tires. Wheels are 17-inch Billet Specialties Street Lites series, 9-1/2 inches wide in the rear, 7-1/2 inches wide in the front, with Kumho tires all around.

On to the body. If the other components of this build were not proof enough Mike Poquette is a very talented builder, what he did for the body of this truck put him over the top. It was a complete truck to start with, albeit with front sheet metal disassembled. Mike and his brother, Joe, massaged the metal into perfection beyond factory specifications and eliminated excess holes. While Mike was working on the body, I was shaping and finishing the white oak bed wood kit from Bed Wood & Parts with polished stainless strips and hidden fasteners, plus fabricating the tailgate with my sons’ help. The logo was cut away from the original tailgate and welded into the new fabrication. The chromed front bumper was sourced from NPD and was originally supposed to fit a ’47-52 F-1 Ford, but welding up some holes and re-drilling them made it fit the modified IH frame horns. The LED headlights are from Trucklites and the stainless LED taillights are for ’55-58 Chevy trucks using modified, chromed ’32 Ford stanchions. To pay tribute to its working days, a Reese trailer hitch from Tractor Supply was bolted to the original, appropriately boxed frame.

The truck had been painted black at the factory and that was the intention after the re-build. Mike prepped the body for black paint, all the while I was being persuaded to not go with black. Finally my younger son said, “Dad, black is not a color, it’s a commitment”. So a look at the PPG color charts brought us to the Light Slate two stage that seems to get a lot of attention at shows.

The spartan interior was expertly finished out by Toms Upholstery in Haines City in grey, recycled leather to match the exterior color, and grey carpet was installed. Cruising is now more humane with a Vintage Air under dash A/C, although the cowl vent is still functional for natural air. The steering wheel is a Navigator from Flaming River as is the polished column along with cruise control and integral signal light capabilities in the exterior rearview mirrors too. No more giving people funny arm signals out the window! Pedals are Billet Specialties units to make it go and to make it woe. Vacuum wipers were replaced with variable speed electric units from Newport Engineering. My wife said that if she was going to ride with me, that old bench seat had to go and seats with lumbar support needed to replace it. A trip to the salvage yard netted a pair of 2002 BMW 330i, 8-way adjustable buckets sans the head rests. Three point seat belts were added, and the console was owner fabricated using a Suzuki console insert and some metal forming. Gauges are New Vintage USA, Woodward Series 3-in-1. Tunes come by way of a Panasonic unit, but when that 383 sings, who’s listening to a radio?

So it’s been on the road since late January of 2014, and received a Best Of Show at its’ first outing in Lakeland. In Troy, Ohio at the 25th IHC Scout & Light Trucks Nationals in August of 2014 it received three plaques: Best In Class, Best Truck Under 1959, and Lowest Mileage (it’s a new speedometer, of course it has low miles!). Since then it’s been to numerous car shows all over Central Florida and again this year was on display at the Gatornationals in their Hot Rod Junction. Words I hear most at car shows: “You don’t see many of these anymore!”. More thanks than can be imagined go out to my wife, my sons, Walter Weaver, all the great people at Poquette Customs, Tom’s Upholstery, Space Coast Plating, and all the other subs that worked into making Granddads’ last truck truly one of a kind! -Bill Weaver