1995 International Crew Cab - Eye Candy
This International hauls as good as it looks
If you’ve read a few issues of Work Truck Review magazine, you’ve seen some beautiful dual-purpose vehicles that pamper their owners on the job while earning a good living thanks to their utilitarian upgrades.
Hardworking luxury is a combination that’s hard to beat. Every now and then, however, we find an owner who takes those elements to the next level, creating a one-of-a-kind automotive masterpiece that’s as capable as it is good looking.
Fred Drake from Au Sable Forks, New York, has been involved with vehicles since childhood. His family has been in the automotive business since he was six years old, and he painted his first car in his father’s shop at age 14!
Four decades since that first paintjob -- and with multiple modified cars built over the years -- Fred now runs his own shop, Drake’s Auto Repair in Au Sable Forks. Fred had been looking around for a project vehicle that could tow his 36-foot camper. While lots of trucks could get the job done, he wanted something more than just another run-of-the-mill pickup.
When a friend told him about a ’95 International 4700 Crew Cab, Fred knew that with a little personalizing, it had great potential. It was just a cab and chassis, but with a little work, it could be the perfect tow vehicle and could also serve as a rolling advertisement, demonstrating the talents of his shop.
Once the rig was in Fred’s shop, finding a powerplant was the next priority. Thanks to a wrecked ’98 school bus, he was able to salvage the low-mileage Navistar DT466E turbodiesel with a four-speed Allison automatic transmission. The inline-six is a torque monster with a displacement of 7.6L that’s rated at just 250 hp but produces a staggering 620 lb-ft of torque.
Fred left the engine stock for better reliability, with the exception of the new factory turbo and the huge set of showy 6-inch stacks that facilitate free breathing. The original airbag suspension was retained, and taller 3.73 rear end gears were installed for better cruising rpm on the interstates.
Once the powerplant and suspension elements were in place, bodywork began in earnest. Fred had a ’67 International Stepside bed that he wanted to incorporate into the design. In order to have the wheels centered in the wheelwells, he needed to shorten the frame by a whopping 7 feet and remove 5 feet from the driveshaft. After bolting the bed in place, Fred, his brother Ed Drake, and son Fred Jr. decided the International cab was way too tall.
With no prior experience and a Sawzall in hand, they chopped 12 inches out of the roof. It took a few extra doors and roof panels before they got it right, but the finished job looks like it was accomplished by seasoned professionals. All four door handles were shaved, the front fenders were heavily modified, a laser-cut stainless steel grille insert was added, and Peterbilt headlights and bumpers replaced the originals. The sideview mirrors come from a Hummer and, with the top chop, the truck bears a strong resemblance to a Hummer on steroids.
Once the bed was in place, Fred widened the rear fenders by 12 inches to cover the fat rear tires scheduled for the truck. Alcoa 22.5-inch rims got it rolling with 8-inch-wide versions up front and 16-inch-wide rims in the rear. The Michelin rubber up front is 245/75-22.5 with ultra-wide, 445/50-22.5 Super Singles supporting the rear. A late-model Chevy tonneau cover was adapted to the bed and a fifth-wheel was added for towing. Four bolts allow the tonneau cover to be removed when it’s time to pull the family camper. The International came with a 50-gallon step tank, but a pair of 150-gallon side tanks from a Western Star was adapted to the new shorter wheelbase.
The final step was paint, and Eddie and Fred accomplished it themselves using DuPont Orange Crush, bronze, and red. The pinstriping was done by Bob Weeks, who also added the “Low, Wide, and Bad” logo up front, a perfect description of the rejuvenated truck. Nighttime fun begins with more than 100 lights, admired by crowds at shows and loved by the kids in the family.
All that was left to do was the interior, which was accomplished by the talented team at the Recovery Room in Colchester, Vermont. Fred dropped the truck off in midwinter and picked it up in early spring. “I never saw the job until it was complete, and I couldn’t be happier,” he told us. Shades of red and orange cover the pair of bench seats with tan accents on the door panels, carpet, and headliner. “It took us seven months to complete the truck, starting in October, and we had it ready for a show in Bristol, Tennessee, in March.”
Fred and his wife, Wanda, have traveled around the country, including several trips from New York to Florida, drawing admiring glances everywhere along the way. Fred has since sold the truck to his good friend, Florida car collector Ron Rivette in St. Augustine, but now that it’s gone, Fred’s biggest question from his friends was how much money did he have in it. His answer? “How do you put a price on a truck that is one-of-a-kind and one that I built with the help of my family and friends? I can’t wait to build another,” he said with a smile. We can’t wait, either, and we’re keeping our cameras ready!