The International Harvester Company abbreviated first IHC and later IH, now known as Navistar International Corporation. It was a United States manufacturer of agricultural machinery, construction equipment, trucks, and household and commercial products. It was founded in 1901 by Cyrus Hall McCormick. The headquarter is situated in Lisle, Illinois. The key people of the company were Cyrus Hall McCormick, J.P. Morgan.
In 1902, J.P. Morgan merged the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company, along with three smaller agricultural equipment firms, to form International Harvester. In 1985, International Harvester sold off most of its agricultural division to Tenneco, Inc., which merged it into its subsidiary J.I. Case under the Case IH brand. In 1986 following the terms of IH’s agreement with Tenneco, International Harvester renamed itself Navistar International Corporation.
Cyrus Hall McCormick
Founding of the company
The roots of International Harvester run to the 1830s, when Cyrus Hall McCormick, an inventor from Virginia, finalized his version of a horse-drawn reaper, which he field-demonstrated throughout 1831. He received a patent in 1834 for it. In 1902, the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company, along with three smaller agricultural equipment firms (Milwaukee Harvesting Machine Co., Plano Manufacturing Co., and Warder, Bushnell, and Glessner—manufacturers of Champion brand) merged to create the International Harvester Company. Banker J.P. Morgan provided the financing.
The golden years of IH
In 1926, IH’s Farmall Works started production in a new plant in Rock Island, Illinois, manufactured solely to produce the new Farmall tractor. By 1930, the 100,000th Farmall was manufactured. IH next set their sights on introducing a true ‘general-purpose’ tractor designed to satisfy the needs of the average US family farmer. The resulting ‘letter’ series of Raymond Loewy-designed Farmall tractors in 1939 proved a huge success, and IH enjoyed a sales lead in tractors and related equipment that continued through much of the 1940s and 1950s, despite stiff competition from Ford, John Deere, and other tractor manufacturers.
On November 1, IH declared figures showing that president and chairman Archie McCardell received a $1.8 million (in 1979 values) bonus. McCardell wanted overtime, work rule, and other changes from the United Auto Workers, which led to a strike on November 2, 1979. Soon after, the economy turned adverse, and IH faced a financial crisis. The strike ended about six months. When it ended, IH had lost almost $600 million.
Divisions and products
The International Harvester Agricultural Division was second to the Truck Division. It was the best-known IH subsidiary. In 1985 when IH sold the agricultural products division to Tenneco, the International Harvester name and “IH” logo, went with it. From 1902, when IH was formed, to the early 1920s, the McCormick and Deering dealerships kept their original brands unique. Mogul tractors sold at McCormick dealers, and Titan tractors at Deering dealerships, due to the still-present competitiveness of the former rivals.
The early tractors
IH developed a range of large gasoline-powered farm tractors under the Mogul and Titan brands. Sold by McCormick dealers, the Type C Mogul was little more than a stationary engine on a tractor chassis, fitted with friction drive (one speed forward, one reverse). Between 1911 and 1914, 862 Moguls were manufactured. These tractors had varied success, but the trend going into the mid-1910s was “small” and “cheap”. The first important tractors from IH were the model 10-20 and 15-30. Launched in 1915, the tractors were primarily used as traction engines to pull plows and for belt work on threshing machines.
The letter and standard series
For model year 1939, industrial designer Raymond Loewy was hired to design a new line of tractors. The sleek look, combined with other new features, generated what is known as the Farmall “letter series” (A, B, BN, C, H, and M) and the McCormick-Deering “standard series” (W-4, W-6, and W-9). Model year 1941 had the introduction of the model MD, the first rowcrop diesel-powered tractor. The letter and standard series of tractors manufactured until 1954, and was a defining product in IH history.
Light duty trucks
IH often memorized as a maker of relatively successful and innovative “light” lines of vehicles. It was competing directly against the Big Three. The most common were Pickup trucks. IH produced light trucks from 1907 to 1975, beginning with the Model A Auto Wagon (sometimes called the “Auto Buggy”). Production began in February 1907 at IH’s McCormick Works in Chicago, although production shifted to Akron, Ohio, in October that year. Powered by a horizontally opposed, air-cooled twin around 15 hp (11 kW), it was a right-hand-drive model. It popular in rural areas for high ground clearance on the poor roads typical of the era.
IH was an early producer of medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Although based upon truck chassis, IH also developed into the leading manufacturer of the chassis portion of body-on-chassis conventional (type C) school buses. In 1962, IH offered the International Harvester Loadstar. It became the premier medium-duty truck. IH offered the International Harvester S-Series in 1978. It replaced the Loadstar in 1979.
IH produced light, medium, and heavy vehicles for military use. Examples include a Metro van sold to the Czechoslovakian Army in 1938, as M5 Tractors and 2.5-ton M-5H-6 trucks for the US Navy and Marines in 1942, and around 3,500 2.5 ton M-5-6-318 cargo trucks provided mostly to Soviet Union and China.
Motorhomes produced using IHC engines and bare chassis in the 1970. Most of the bodies built of fiberglass.