This is the first in a series of weekly short explorations of classic trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles in which we will briefly touch on the history of a model or series of vehicles that we believe are truly classic off-roaders. We are not going to be too long-winded because we don’t intend to this to be the end-all, be-all definitive history of a vehicle. This is simply to spark the memories of those in our community of like-mined off-road enthusiasts.
One of the vehicles near and dear to our hearts is the venerable International Harvester Scout. The Scout produced by International Harvester was one of the pioneering American off-road vehicles and it was manufactured from 1961 to 1980. It was built to be a competitor to the Jeep, and the first Scout and Scout second-generation Scout II (our personal favorite at Off Road Xtreme) were manufactured in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In its original form, the Scout had a fold-down window, and was bestowed with a wonderful open-air feel that few vehicles have ever presented to their owners. The first- and second-generation Scouts were two-doors, and you had the option of getting ordering it as a half-cab pickup, removable hardtop or soft top.
According to chief designer Ted Ornas, in early 1958 his department was “directed to develop a concept proposal to enter this small market (four-wheel-drive recreational vehicle) of that time. So help me, Mr. Reese manager of engineering, said ‘design something to replace the horse.’ There was no product definition to use a guide.”
The Scout 80 (’60 to ’65) used a 2.5L 1-4; the 800 (’65 to ’68) offered a 2.5L I-4, 3.2L I-4, 3.8L I-6 and 4.4L V8 during its run, including a turbocharged version of the 2.5 I-4 for a few years; and the 800A and 800B got a 5.0L V8, but the B was only around for less than a year waiting for the Scout II to be introduced. Dana 27 axles were used in the 80 and 800 models, with a Dana 18 transfer case up to ’68. The 800A carried Dana 44 rear and a Dana 20 transfer case.
The Scout II was also produced as Terra and Traveler from ’76 to ’80 with fiberglass tops; Terra having a half top, the Traveler having full top with a hatchback with lift gate. Wheelbase measurements were 100 inches (Scout II), and 118 inches (Terra and Traveler), and overall length came in at 165.2 and 183.2, respectively. transmission choices during the Scout II’s run were a three- and four-speed manual, and a four-speed automatic.
The Scout II could be ordered with all the same engines as the Scout, but also carried the venerable 5.7L (345 ci) V8 that is so desired by IH fans. The Dana 44 rear was used with a Dana 30 front until ’74, but 44 front could be special ordered. Post ’74, Dana 44 fronts became standard.
The Scout, and especially the Scout II, was known as a hard-working, yet fun and lifestyle-oriented four-wheel-drive vehicle that provided its owners with a rig that had all the utility of a Jeep with more a modern design. The 345 ci V8 earned a reputation as a reliable, stump-pulling mule of a motor, and the vehicle remains tremendously popular among a cadre of devoted enthusiasts.