International Harvester Metro Van

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Metro, Metro Van, Metro Mite, Metro-Lite, Metro Walk-in Cab
Preserved International Harvester Metro Van in Portland in 2012.jpg
A preserved Metro Van in 2012
Overview
Manufacturer International Harvester
Also called Metro
Production 1938-1975
Assembly United States
Designer Raymond Loewy
Body and chassis
Class Light-duty Van or Coach (bus), Class 1-3
Medium-duty van or truck, Class 4-6
Body style Van MPV or COE truck
Layout R.W.D. C.O.E.
Related D-series truck, Scout
Chronology
Successor MetroStar, eStar

The International Harvester Metro Van was a step van, also known as walk-in or multi-stop delivery truck. This vehicle type was one of the earlier, mass-produced forward control vehicles, once commonly used for milk or bakery delivery, as well as ambulance services, mobile offices, and radio transmitter vans.[1] Typically, they were 1/2-, 3/4-, or 1-ton panel trucks that allowed the driver to stand or sit while driving the vehicle.

Variations included a passenger bus called a Metro Coach, a Metro partial cab-chassis with front-end sections (for end-user customization), and a cab-over truck called a "walk-in cab". The truck (also called a chassis cab) variation could be configured with a separate box or container for cargo transport or left open to be fitted with other equipment such as a compactor for a garbage truck or a stake bed.[2]

History[edit]

The International Harvester Metro Van was produced in the United States from 1938 until 1975 and sold internationally. The drive train was originally based on the 1937-40 D-Series trucks. One of the first models built was sold to the Czechoslovakian Army and destroyed by the German army during World War II.

Unlike their trucks and other vehicles, the Metro bodies were built by the Metropolitan Body Company on Grand Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a company that International Harvester would later purchase in 1948.[3] Final assembly was then done in one of the IH manufacturing plants. The original design was by Raymond Loewy of Studebaker and Coke bottle fame. The Metro design was one of several with which Loewy was involved or created during his association with International Harvester.

The overall design of the Metro vans remained somewhat unchanged from 1938 until 1964 when it was redesigned by the in-house design team in the Chicago Metro plant to be competitive with the Boyertown and Hackney vans. The corners were squared and an opening hood was added for easier access to coolant and oil dipstick. An eight-cylinder engine was also made available.

In the 1950s, International Harvester began producing variations such as the "Metro-Lite," and "Metro-Multi-Stop" vans. In 1959, the "Metro Mite" was introduced.[4][5] It was based on the Scout drive train. In 1960 the "Bookmobile" was built by the Metropolitan Body Company on an IHC chassis.[6] By 1972, all IHC Metro Vans were stripped-chassis that other manufacturers could build on. After 1975 they were discontinued along with all other light-duty trucks except for the Scout, which was last made in 1980.

The Metro Van was re-issued by Navistar in 2000, as a medium-sized delivery truck. Other than by model name, it is unrelated to the original Metro line.

In 2005, Navistar purchased the Workhorse company, a manufacturer of step-van and motor home chassis, to seemingly re-enter the delivery van market. For a short time Workhorse offered an integrated chassis-body product, similar in nature to the original International Harvester van, called the MetroStar.[7] In September 2012, Navistar announced the discontinuation of Workhorse and the closure of the plant in Union City, Indiana.[8]

Metropolitan Body Company[edit]

Metropolitan Body Co. manufacturer plate located next to IHC build plate above passenger side front window

The Metropolitan Body Company (MBC) was located at 434 Grand Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut. It operated as a separate company from International Harvester until 1948. Prior to that it produced bodies for a variety of auto and truck manufacturers.[6] MBC produced equipment for Chevrolet, Dodge Bros. and Ford chassis during the late 1930s and were pioneers in the development of cab over engine (COE) route delivery bodies. MBC had an extensive patent protected line of utility cabs, beds, and bodies with unique functional aspects that likely contributed to International Harvester Company's position as an innovator and market leader in the commercial truck industry in the latter half of the 20th century.

Original Loewy design distinction[edit]

The initial model of the Metro series was the version that adhered closest to the original Loewy design. Known as the "D" or "D-M" series these vans had several unique features that were later dropped for as yet unknown reasons. Some of these features included teardrop shaped headlights (similar to those found on 1937 & '38 Ford coupes and sedans), rear fender skirts (coverings) with deco styled "Metro" badges, "triple diamond" IHC grill emblem, and a more streamlined front end configuration lacking the more angular design of later Metros. This original road vehicle design is sometimes referred as the "giant scarab" which is consistent with the Egyptian influences of the Art Deco movement. A review of Loewy's other designs for items such as streamlined locomotives shows his interest in wind-cheating "swept back" contours.[9]

Photos of an unrestored example of the original Loewy Metro design
1941 Metro front emblem
1941 D15M, 3/4 view 
Driver side view 
1941 Metro driver side view
Front end with grill, emblem, and teardrop headlights 
1941 Metro front with grill, emblem, and teardrop headlights
Triple diamond front emblem 
Rear wheel side skirt with Art-Deco style emblem unique to this series 
2012

Model Series[edit]

IHC Metro build plate, located above passenger side front window

The powertrain of the Metro vans was typically based on an equivalent series International light- or medium-duty truck. For example, an LM-120 1/2 ton Metro van (5,400 lb weight capacity or GVWR) with a 7 3/4 or 9 1/2 foot body effectively had the IH engine (SD-220), transmission, rearend, wheels (although with varying bolt patterns), and braking system of an L-120 pickup truck.[LM120/150 1] With the introduction of each new series of truck, updated Metro vans were included as part of their commercial line.

Metro model designations can be difficult to decode considering that the differently configured vehicles could have the same model number. For example, in reference to the LM-120 mentioned previously it was available in several different wheelbase and body lengths yet its GVWR (5,400 lbs) remained the same. Each series has unique models and configurations that may have common features or functions across the series.

Model numbers were typically coded into the VIN number along with the chassis serial number (a.k.a. "build number", its position in the production sequence) and any other special identifying code(s).

The suffix number (i.e. "120" of "LM-120") would typically refer to the weight class (GVWR) of the vehicle. As the suffix number increased, so did the designated carrying capacity. In some instances, this number was also used to designate the weight capacity along of a certain model vehicle with particular features or functions.[2]

D-M (1938-1940)[edit]

D-M (D Series Metro)
Overview
Manufacturer Metropolitan Body Co. & International Harvester
Model years 1938-1940
Designer Raymond Loewy
Body and chassis
Class Van
Body style MPV
Layout RWD COE
Related Scout
Powertrain
Engine 6 cylinder Inline
Transmission Manual
Chronology
Successor K Series

KM/KBM (1941-1949)[edit]

KM/KBM (K Series Metro)
Overview
Manufacturer Metropolitan Body Co. & International Harvester
Model years 1941, WW2 shutdown, 1946-1949
Designer Raymond Loewy
Body and chassis
Class Van
Body style MPV
Layout RWD COE
Related IH K/KB-series
Powertrain
Engine 6 cylinder Inline
Transmission Manual
Chronology
Successor LM Series

LM-Series (1950-1952)[edit]

LM (L Series Metro)
Overview
Also called LM-120, LM-121, LM-122, LM-150, LM-151, LM-152
Model years 1950-1952
Designer Raymond Loewy
Body and chassis
Class Van
Body style MPV
Layout RWD COE
Related IH L-series
Powertrain
Engine 6 cylinder Inline
Transmission Manual
Chronology
Predecessor KM/KBM series
Successor RM series

RM-Series (1953-1955)[edit]

RM (R Series Metro)
Overview
Model years 1953-1955
Designer Raymond Loewy
Body and chassis
Class Van
Body style MPV
Layout RWD COE
Related IH R-series
Powertrain
Engine 6 cylinder Inline
Transmission Manual

SM-Series (1956-1959)[edit]

SM (S Series Metro)
Overview
Model years 1956-1959
Designer Raymond Loewy
Body and chassis
Class Van
Body style MPV
Layout RWD COE
Related IH S-series
Powertrain
Engine 6 cylinder Inline
Transmission Manual

AM-Series (1960-1962)[edit]

AM (A Series Metro), Metro • Walk-In Cab
Overview
Also called AM-80, AM-120, AM-130, AM-150, AMC-150, AM-160, AMC-160
Model years 1960-1962
Body and chassis
Related IH A-series

BM/CM-Series (1963-1972)[edit]

Overview
Model years 1963-1972

Gallery[edit]

Photos of various Metro based vehicles
Metro Coach (bus)
Unrestored 1957 S-series Metro van, 7 1/2ft body (shorty) 
1957 Metro van
Original 1960-62 A series Metro Coach (bus) 
1961 Metro A-series Walk-in Cab truck and 1957 Metro S-series van
Unrestored (left) 1961 A-series Walk-in Cab truck, (right) 1957 S-series van 
2011-2012

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ International Trucks with All-Steel Metro Bodies. International Harvester #A-32-NN. 1950. p. 24. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Staff. "History and Development of International Harvester". Wisconsin State Historical Society. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Carlson, B Mitchell. "The Timeless Metro". Red Power. Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec, Jan/Feb. 27 & 28: 34–36. 
  3. ^ 1948 International Harvester Annual Report. 1949. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  4. ^ http://imcdb.org/vehicles.php?make=International+Harvester&model=Metro+Mite&modelMatch=1&modelInclModel=on
  5. ^ http://imcdb.org/vehicle_228659-International-Harvester-Metro-Mite-1967.html
  6. ^ a b http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/m/metropolitan/metropolitan.htm
  7. ^ Berg, Tom (09/12/12). "Navistar Shutting Down Workhorse as Part of Cost-Cutting". Heavy Duty Trucking. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Breaking News". RV Business. 09/12/12. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  9. ^ Carlson, B Mithchell (March–April 2013). "The International Harvest Metro Van". Vintage Truck. 

External links[edit]