When it comes to classic off-road vehicles, one can’t get the entire picture of the industry in the 60s and 70s without taking a look at the beloved original International Harvester Scout. A true off-road original, the 1961 to 1971 Scout is the focus of this week’s Vintage Monday!
A first for the brand, the International Harvester Scout was introduced as a commercial utility truck in late 1960 as a 1961 model. An intended competitor for the Jeep CJ 4×4 model at the time, the first Scout, a Scout 80, was released with very little known about the developing off-road market. Because of that, the beast was a brute of a truck equipped with very few comforts and amenities.
Sliding side windows, which were also removable, marked the first risk taken by International Harvester for the Scout, a feature discontinued on the truck after the very early 1962 models were produced.
Features that stuck with the model for longer included a fold-down windshield, standard 152ci four-cylinder engine, and vacuum controlled windshield wipers.
Special models offered in this early generation included the Red Carpet Series Scouts, a model equipped with a red interior, full headliner and floor mats, as well as a special white exterior paint job to mark the 100,000 Scout production model. Only 3,000 of these models were released. The other special edition was the Campermobile- an early take on truck-bed camping with a special rear shell, fold-out sleeping bunks, retracting toilet and dinette.
The Scout 80 model lasted through the 1964 model year, being replaced by the aptly named Scout 800 in 1965.
An upgraded take on the growing off-road market, the Scout 800 came with many more amenities than its predecessor, including bucket seats, optional rear seats, more modern instrumentation and an upgraded heating system. For this new model, the base engine was a 152ci Comanche engine good for 93hp and 135lb-ft of torque, with a turbocharged version available from August of 1966 to 1968. This option was good for 111hp.
The new 800 model was also available after 1966 with a new 196ci four-cylinder engine capable of producing a similar 111hp or a 232 inline-six power plant. In the spring of 1967, a 266ci V8 engine was added to the mix.
Though very similar to the Scout 80 design, the body of the Scout 800 was accented with an anodized aluminum grille, IH badge (which was previously on the grille) on the hood, rectangle “International” grille badge, push-button door handles and a stationary windshield. On the 800, the vacuum controlled windshield wipers remained, but were moved from the top of the windshield to the bottom.
The Scout 800 could also be ordered with a Sportop- a special slanted roof made out of fiberglass- on either base or convertible models. The Sportop package also came with an upgraded interior.
In 1969, the Scout 800 was replaced by the 800A, another step up when it came to creature comforts. The new model brought with it a new engine option, a 304ci V8, to compliment the four remaining engines from the 800 series, as well as a quieter Dana 20 rearend and heftier rear axle. The 800A was also offered with the Sportop option.
Determining an 800 from an 800A is made simple by looking at the grille once again, with the 800A models sporting new three-piece grilles and bezel-bound headlights.
The last of the original Scout models came in August of 1970 and remained only until March of 1971. This was the 800B model and it came with only minor design changes, including chrome headlight bezels rather than black ones.
Customers looking for even more spice for their Scout could order the Comanche package, complete with chrome trim, sliding travel windows, available roof racks, optional chrome wheels and a unique paint and decal package.
In April of 1971, the Scout II was introduced, bringing a modified body style and plenty of model-year specific trim pieces, as well as an end to the original Scout. The model stuck around through 1980, when it faced its final demise.