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Young Gun gets an International learning experience

The hobby is still in good hands with the younger generation. Proof positive is Kameron Dickman and his International pickup.
Traveling to car shows with his friends is what interested Kameron in hot rods.

Traveling to car shows with his friends is what interested Kameron in hot rods.

Kameron Dickman is about to turn 30 years of age. More importantly, Kameron’s experience with an old International truck shows just how independent and self-sufficient today’s generation of old-car lovers can be. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, nor handed down a project. He bought the truck himself and learned how to give it the care and repairs that it needed.

It all started five years ago, following a trip to Vintage Torquefest in Dubuque, Iowa. After seeing the hot rods there, Kameron decided that he wanted one, but there were two problems: a limited budget, and the need to have any vehicle he bought delivered to him. He searched on Facebook Marketplace and found an International pickup that was mostly complete and being sold by a man who would deliver it. The seller even said it would run with a new gas tank and radiator.

A period sun visor seems to accentuate the lowness of the hot rod IHC.

A period sun visor seems to accentuate the lowness of the hot rod IHC.

As often happens, the seller’s optimism about how easily the truck could be revived was overstated. Kameron — who, at the time, had no idea what it would take to fix the truck — began tinkering with his International. After two months and many phone calls, and, finally, a compression test, he discovered the engine was basically junk.

“I was two months into my project, tremendously frustrated, and broke as a joke,” he recalled. “I had spent all my money buying tune-up parts and tools with which to work on the truck. So, I called an old-timer friend of mine — a man by the name of Jon Fish — and told him, “Please come and tow this truck to the scrapyard, because I’m done with it.”

His friend calmed Kameron and asked him to let him spend a couple of days finding a parts-donor vehicle. Fish called back 45 minutes later and said, “I found you a donor.” Kameron explained that he had zero dollars and no way to haul a vehicle home. “Jon said that it was his cousin’s two-wheel-drive 1979 Ford F100 and I could take whatever I needed, as long as I didn’t touch the body,” Kameron said. The price was $200, paid whenever he could, and the man would deliver it and pick it up when Kameron was done. For $200, he got a 300-cid six-cylinder, a C6 transmission and a
9-in. Ford rear axle.

The “Midwest suede” on the hood and the primer paint are there on purpose.

The “Midwest suede” on the hood and the primer paint are there on purpose.

Kameron spent the next few months wrenching on the truck, learning how to swap a drive train from one vehicle to another. He wrenched on it every night after work and on weekends. He worked until it could finally hit the road. After a day of driving his International, Kameron parked it on the street to show off his work. As fate would have it, a storm toppled a tree onto the truck that evening and totaled it.

Luckily, Kameron worked at a body shop. He kept the truck, straightened out the rear of the frame and roughed out the cab. Then, he took the insurance check and went to the Madison Classics swap meet in Jefferson, Wis., where he bought a Camaro sub-frame. That winter, the pickup went “back under the knife” to be “operated” upon. It was brought back to health by welding in the Camaro sub-frame, notching the rear end and lowering the truck 10 in. Kameron and friends also remade the firewall and floor.

Kameron’s truck on the steel bridge near the Symco Grist Mill.

Kameron’s truck on the steel bridge near the Symco Grist Mill.

“The next summer, I finally got to put some real miles on the pickup,” Kameron recalled. “I drove it back to the Vintage Torquefest, as well as to the Mississippi Mayhem show and the Symco Rod & Kustom Weekender.” 

After the show season ended, Kameron began more projects to tweak the truck more to his liking. He did not care for the C6 automatic transmission, so he started there.

“I wanted a good ‘man’s-mission,’” he joked. “So, I swapped in a T5 five-speed manual gearbox.”

Kameron also put a full spool in the 9-inch rear. Different gears were also swapped into the truck, and Kameron ditched the worn-out leaf springs, replacing them with coil overs. He then built a triangulated four-link rear suspension from scratch.

The old DX fillin’ station was the perfect place for a photo op.

The old DX fillin’ station was the perfect place for a photo op.

“Two years earlier, I didn’t know anything about hot rods,” Kameron said, “but, I learned a lot from research I did on sleepless nights, and from talking to people about how to do things.” 

He finished all the projects in late February.

“I still had a lot of time before the season started and couldn’t relax, so I fired my grinder back up and fit 1964 Ford Galaxie taillights to the truck,” Kameron recalled. “Then, I fixed a lot of rust in the radiator grille and fenders and left all the sheet metal in primer.”

That summer, the International was driving the best it ever had. One of Kameron’s favorite events was a small show at a friend’s shop.

“Actually, that was what my friends and I did for my bachelor party,” he said. “The show location was a 3-1/2-hour drive and, on the way down, we got caught in a nasty storm in Madison. A friend was riding with me. He would wipe the mist off the inside of the windshield, then pass me the rag to keep the water coming in from reaching the switches in the dash.”

The next morning, Kameron and his friends cruised to a classic-themed Denny’s in Wisconsin Dells. 

“I hit the interstate for the first time and the truck had a nasty vibration at around 75 mph,” he remembered. “The steering was a little sloppy and I wasn’t happy with the tone of the engine. Of course, this meant additional work would be done on the truck the next winter, but this time with a totally different mindset. I wanted it right!”

That winter, Kameron stripped the truck completely down to the frame and sent out the engine and transmission for rebuilds. He bought a new third member and he cut every bracket off the frame and cleaned it up. While waiting for the engine to be done, Kameron cleaned up the firewall, made cab corners and fixed the door bottoms.

“After I got the engine and transmission back, I remade the mounts — they were done much cleaner this time — and made a couple of changes to the four-link setup.”

When the truck went back together, a turbo was added to “fix the exhaust note.” Kameron then had a custom stainless-steel exhaust header and intake manifold made.

Gas, tires and oil were things Kameron learned to deal with getting into old cars.

Gas, tires and oil were things Kameron learned to deal with getting into old cars.

“My friend George Jester really inspired me to make my truck what it is today,” Kameron said. “From adding bumpers and fog lights to getting the pinstriping done, he inspires me to drive the truck a lot. We don’t build these hot rods to put them in a garage and look at them; we build them to drive and enjoy, and that’s why it’s constantly getting torn apart and put back together. That way, each season I drive it farther and farther.”

Kameron isn’t 100 percent sure how far he’ll push his truck in 2022. 

“I would like to make it to the Bourbon Run in Kentucky,” he dreams. “But, I’m building my wife a 1955 Olds 88 Holiday Sedan that will have a chassis swap, LS engine and air conditioning.” 

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