International-Harvester, now known as Navistar, literally has its roots in agriculture. Their history goes back to 1831 when Cyrus McCormick devised the first truly practical mechanical reaper, more than fifty years before the first gasoline powered vehicle ever turned a wheel. He established the first franchised dealership network system anywhere for his farm implements in 1850. By 1856, he was producing more than 4,000 reapers a year in his new Chicago factory. A stationary gasoline engine developed for the company by E.A. Johnston in 1897 would go into full production in 1905.
Climbing Pikes Peak, “Horseless Age”, July 1916 – “Horseless Age” advertisement, August 1916 – A conversion, “Horseless Age” May 1916
Johnston’s work on that powerplant led to directly to their first self-propelled Auto Buggy, which he convinced Cyrus McCormick, Jr. to manufacture in a run of one hundred units in 1907. The second generation truck seen in our photos was manufactured simultaneously in 1915 and 1916 with the high-wheeled Model “M”, itself a development of the original Auto Buggy.
The wide variety of equipment made available to buyers of these newer models can be seen in the center photo, above. Variants of this design would continue until 1921 when the more conventional looking “S” Model was introduced. You can see more than 100 pages covering trucks, buses and equipment on The Old Motor. Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society.