Rides from the Readers: 1956 International tow truck 

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Hagerty readers and Hagerty Drivers Club members share their cherished collector and enthusiast vehicles with us via our contact email, tips@hagerty.com. We’re showcasing some of our favorite stories among these submissions. To have your car featured, send complete photography and your story of ownership to us at the above email.

1956 international harvester tow truck 6
John Zook

Today’s featured ride is a tow truck called Old Red, which started life as a 1956 International Harvester. The truck fulfilled its calling as a trusty 4×4 workhorse until 1965, when it got an engine transplant and a job reassignment. Instead of the rock-solid reliable straight six, the Harvester got an iron-block Oldsmobile 394 Rocket with stump-yanking torque. Clearly, this wasn’t a hot rod modification; instead, its owner wanted to mold the 4×4 into a full-fledged tow truck. On went winch reels, cables, pulleys, and snatch blocks from a 1948 Holmes wrecker unit, all reinforced and secured by steel and a stick welder.

Hagerty member John Zook shared the story with us, recounting how his father spent hours transforming the truck into his do-everything vehicle. Old Red is inseparably intertwined with Zook’s childhood, from the hours he spent watching his father weld and tweak and tinker with the truck to the winter evenings Old Red went out in search of stuck cars (and, in the process, did some wheelstands). Old Red picked up a church bell, toted a shed while towing a Jeep for a hunting trip, and pulled over trees.

The trusty old truck has since gone into retirement, but, as Zook writes, “Once you become a legend you live forever in the stories …”

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