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Slammed to Perfection: A Patina ’68 Travelette Built to Stand Out

In the lineage of automotive history, International Harvester Travelette trucks define a bygone era that demanded robust craftsmanship and utilitarian design. Born from the iconic International Harvester brand, these four-door pickup trucks, like the '68 Travelette seen here, were a unique breed in the truck world. Built to accommodate both family and work needs, these vehicles blended practicality with a distinct style, earning them a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts.

Rear of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Fast forward to the present day, where the legacy of Travelette trucks continue to capture the imagination of individuals like Tony Leal. As an aficionado of unique rides, he found a distinctive charm in these vintage workhorses. Tony’s penchant for building vehicles that stand out from the crowd had become his trademark in the truck scene. He wasn't just interested in assembling another run-of-the-mill custom ride; he aimed to create a masterpiece that would turn heads and tell a story.

Front of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Obtaining Uniqueness

Tony Leal's journey to transform the '68 Travelette into a unique family cruiser began by enlisting the help of his trusted buddy, Dan Smalley of Pure Metal Works, to inspect a Travelette he had found in Northern California. When Tony arrived, he found it was nothing short of a complete pile of junk, a dilapidated relic that had seen better days—so he passed on it.

Seats of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Thankfully, Dan revealed a more promising find, a '68 Travelette located in Hawthorne, Nevada and owned by a local police officer. With renewed excitement, Tony made the journey from Southern California, eager to lay eyes and assess this one for himself. Upon arrival, he discovered a truck that despite its own set of challenges, exuded a character that resonated with him. The real challenge lay in extracting the Travelette from its resting place in a field. Due to decades in the dirt, the wheels were stubbornly stuck in mud, requiring recovery gear to get it on his trailer.

Rear Air Ride Suspension of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Slammed to Perfection

Once back in the shop, Tony began work on an updated chassis. To transform the '68 Travelette into a ground-hugging marvel, he opted for a full custom air-bagged chassis regulated by an AirLift 3H kit. This sophisticated system allowed him to control the ride height of the suspension with precision. Complemented by a FLO air tank and powerful VIAIR compressors, the Travelette could be lowered to the ground with the push of a button, creating a dramatic visual impact that sets it apart from the ordinary.

Nitto NT555 G2 Tires of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

As Tony worked on the details of the project, the Travelette gradually evolved into a rolling piece of art. The combination of vintage patina and modern customization showcased the harmony between the past and the present. The contemporary 20-inch wheels, wrapped in Nitto NT555 G2 tires, added a touch of modern flair to the classic truck's aesthetic. Plus, the Nitto’s advanced tread compound and large tread blocks contribute to enhanced traction, responsive steering, and improved cornering stability.

Chevy 5.3L LT Engine of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Function Junction

The engine compartment underwent a meticulous transformation, with every detail designed to captivate onlookers. The heart of the beast is a modern Chevy 5.3L LT engine, ensuring a perfect blend of reliability and performance. Power from this potent engine is delivered to the ground through a 6L80 transmission to a Strange Engineering 9-inch rear end. Not only was the combo used for reliability, but it also has no problem handling increased power from the modern engine.

Dash of of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Inner Glory

Inside the cab, Tony spared no effort in creating a space that combined comfort and modern convenience. The simplicity of the interior design discretely showcases the thoughtful enhancements that were made. Dakota Digital gauges adorn the dash that was painted to match the engine bay, offering a clear and precise view of the truck's vital signs. An Ididit steering column paired with a MOMO steering wheel provides a tactile connection between driver and machine.

AC and Air Ride Controls of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Tony, known for his appreciation of sound systems, enlisted the expertise of Gary Bell from Define Concepts to craft an audio experience that matched the truck's visual prowess. A stereo system, controlled by a Musway DSP control unit, was integrated seamlessly into the cabin. Two 6.5-inch Hertz speakers and two JL Audio 10-inch subwoofers, all housed in custom enclosures, deliver a symphony of sound that reverberates through the cab.

Front of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Finishing Touches

Ensuring that every detail was considered, MST Upholstery worked their magic on the interior. A custom carpet adorns the floor, while custom upholstery covers the air vents and shifter console for a cohesive look. The factory seats, now wrapped in durable vinyl, promise both comfort and longevity. Moving to the rear, the truck's utilitarian bed underwent a transformation of its own. The steel bed floor was replaced with a custom floor crafted from varnished pine wood—an elegant touch that spoke to the truck's dual nature of ruggedness and refinement.

Rear of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

As Tony’s Travelette emerged from its transformative journey, it stands as a testament to the harmonious blend of history and innovation, style, and substance. This low and cool family cruiser isn't just a vehicle; it is a rolling piece of art that encapsulated his passion for building unique, eye-catching rides that transcended the ordinary.

Nitto NT555 G2 Tires of Tony Leal's 1968 International Harvester Travelette

Hard Facts

Vehicle: 1968 International Harvester Travelette
Owner: Tony Leal
Engine: 2018 Chevy 5.3L LT V8, PSI engine management, K&N air filter, Mattson’s custom radiator, Spal brushless electric fans, Speed Engineering headers, stainless-steel exhaust & Borla mufflers
Drivetrain: Chevy 6L80-E transmission, Strange Engineering 9-inch rear end, Dutchman axles, Eaton Trutrac LSD
Suspension: Full custom chassis, custom IFS, custom rear four-link with pan hard bar, Slam Specialties SS-7 air bags, AirLift sleeve ‘bags, AirLift 3H system, FLO air tank, VIAIR compressors, Ridetech shocks, CPP C7 Corvette spindles, Wilwood disc brakes
Body: Naturally weathered exterior, patched lower portions, custom wheel covers, custom pine wood bed floor, United Pacific headlights and taillights, Sweet Patina roof rack
Wheels: 20x8.5 and 20x11 Avant Garde SR10 in brushed finish with gloss liquid bronze centers and clear coat
Tires: Nitto NT555 G2 255/35ZR20 (Front) & 315/30ZR20 (Rear)
Interior: Dakota Digital Gauges, Ididit steering column, MOMO California wood steering wheel, Restomod Air climate control, Lokar Shifter, carpet and vinyl interior by MST Upholstery, Audio by Define Concepts, Musway DSP, Rockford Fosgate amplifiers, Hertz 6.5-inch speakers, JL Audio 10-inch subwoofers
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