COLLECTOR CARS: 1974 International Pickup vs 1975 Ford F150

Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance

It’s no secret that vintage pickup trucks are the latest rage in collectible vehicles. They are inexpensive to restore, utterly reliable, born with a lengthy shelf life and they are enormously popular right now. If a collectible truck is on your wish list, here’s what you should know about two of the mainstay trucks from the 1970s.

1974 International Pickup
American Muscle

When I began racing dirt tracks in the late 1980s, my father’s ¾ ton, red-and-white International 200 pickup with a Comanche 345 V8 served as our hauler. Frankly, it was better at its job than our race car. The old International was the perfect hauler and well within its element dragging an extra 3000 lbs all over the Midwest.

Its Comanche 345 engine produced less than 200 horsepower but made up for it with nearly 300 lb-ft of torque. The four-speed transmission with a huge, floor-mounted shifter was wonderful and allowed the driver to keep the engine in its best rev range, from about 2500-3500 rpm’s.

We had no trouble gaining speed while driving up moderate hills at 60 mph even when towing an open trailer, a race car and a full load of pit gear stacked high in the 8-foot “Bonus Load” bed. When it wasn’t hauling race cars, it served faithfully as a farm truck, hunting truck and a second family vehicle. It was bullet proof. International’s 345 engines were known to frequently run 200,000 miles between rebuilds. There just wasn’t much the old International couldn’t do.

But you never forgot that this was, after all, a truck. The International got lousy fuel mileage, had a stiff, truck-like ride and offered only modest interior creature comforts. The bench seat consisted of vinyl stretched tightly over foam rubber and hard springs. The interior door panels were sheet metal. We had AM radio only. The heater functioned (technically) so long as you didn’t really need to stay warm.

Our International Harvester 200 does racing duty while the driver gets ready to qualify – pit area, Paragon Speedway, 1989

Nevertheless, as trucks go, the 1974 International was a workhorse of the first order and left no job undone.

1975 Ford F150

With the introduction of the F150 pickup truck in 1975, Ford produced a genuine American success story. This heavier and tougher version of the F100 was still built on Ford’s original 1965 chassis and came with upgraded engine options.

The 1975 F150 that I drove daily for two years had a mostly sufficient small block V8 that sent power through a 3-speed automatic transmission. There was no question that it was a gentler, milder truck to drive than the battle-ready International. Power steering and brakes softened the driving experience. The three-segment instrument panel was easy to read, with a 100 mph speedometer flanked by oil and fuel gauges o

n the left and temperature and alternator readings on the right.

The F150’s ride quality was sublime compared to the International. I drove the truck heavily during the bitter Indiana winters of the 1980s and it performed admirably. The F150’s 6000-pound curb weight planted the rear tires firmly in the snow, especially when boosted by half a dozen 50-pound bags of fertilizer and a row of cement blocks in the bed for weight.

Over time, I grew to love our Ford F150. It was masculine and reliable. The two-tone blue paint and full length chrome side trim made for an attractive vehicle that was still capable of 90% of the jobs that the International could perform.


Ford’s 1975 ad campaign focused on the F150’s toughness and durability. Credit: Ford Motor Company

It’s hard to make a bad choice here. It’s true that the International Bonus Bed pickup has that extra degree of panache and rarity, but its spartan interior and the inherent difficulty in locating International parts from the 70s may make even a hardcore truck fan think twice.

For collectors, the Ford F150 is the easy vintage truck choice. An F150 from the mid-70s will most likely have a 351, 360 or 390 engine, all of which are still supplied with parts through the aftermarket. Many of the interior gauges, dash components and electronics are interchangeable. C4 and C6 light duty truck transmissions are still plentiful.

The F150 is a joy to drive, easy to restore and offers just enough comfort to take on a cruise night. It has a nearly infinite fan base to promote resale value. I’m not sure which I would choose if I were still hauling a race car to Paragon Speedway every weekend, but as a vintage collectible truck the Ford is hard to beat.

Stephen Cox
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN
Driver, Electric GT Championship~Super Cup Stock Car Series

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Previous articleToyota Racing NXS Phoenix Matt Tifft Quotes
Next articleFive Things You Won’t Expect When Your Race Car Catches Fire
Stephen Cox is a racing driver in the Electric GT Championship, the Super Cup Stock Car Series and the World Racing League endurance sports car series. He is also a television host and CEO of Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions. He is currently in his 10th season as a co-host on NBCSN’s Mecum Auto Auction. Stephen also serves as producer for the Super Cup Stock Car Series telecasts on MavTV and other programming on Fox, Outdoor Channel, Velocity and more. His past television work includes hosting: Champ Car World Series Indianapolis 500 NASCAR Winston West Barber Dodge Pro Series Paris-Dakar Rally USAR Hooters ProCup Stock Car Series Mid-American Stock Car Series ARCA Truck Series Stephen Cox is among America’s most versatile professional racing drivers. Few drivers have competed on both asphalt and dirt. Fewer still on both road courses and ovals. Fewer still in both open wheel and stock cars. And virtually none can add the elite division of off road desert racing to their resume. Stephen has not simply raced in each of these divisions – he has scored championships, wins, poles or top ten finishes in every single category, and in 2017 he adds the international Electric GT Championship sports car series to the list. From ARCA ovals to SCCA road courses, endurance racing to Rolex GT sports cars, from Tecate SCORE Baja Trophy Trucks in desert sands to the Hooters Pro Cup Series and Super Cup Stock Car Series on America’s famous southern ovals… Cox has driven them all, and won. Track record holder at Midvale Speedway (OH USA) Track record holder at Gingerman Raceway (MI USA) 18 career wins 17 career poles Mitsubishi factory test driver 2004 GT Challenge Series champion 2004 Championship Motorsports Association Rookie of the Year As a writer, Cox has authored: L&M PORSCHE; the story Penske’s 1972 Can-Am championship SHELBY LEGEND, TRANS-AM WINNER; the 1966 Ford Mustang Group 2 SCCA Racer AGAINST ALL ODDS; the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona Cox also authored the Small Team Sponsorship Guide for beginning sponsor-hunters, the classic book and seminar that redefined the way entry level teams attack corporate sponsorship.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here