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The International Harvester Scout: A History

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The International Harvester Scout is truly a one-of-a-kind off-road vehicle that will never be forgotten. Learn about its time on the road here.

Loving the International Harvester Scout is easy. A true gem alongside Jeep back in the 60s-80s, the Scout is what all off-road lovers adore about durable, capable vehicles. A little before the Bronco, the Scout offered the best of both Jeeps and the Broncos. Part truck, part people-carrier, it’s a car that’s found a place deep in our hearts when we look back at classic recreational vehicles. Let’s dig into the history behind the car and see how the Scout made its way into thef world.

A Little About International Harvester

Before we hop down memory lane with the Scout, we have to go a little further back in time to understand how International Harvester began. Back in the early 1900s, International Harvester was a conglomerate made up of agricultural equipment, commercial vehicles, trucks, household equipment, and more. In 1907, International Harvester began producing trucks, by 1953 the company would add a “people-carrier” model to their lineup called the Travelall. In 1961, International debuted the Scout as a two-door competitor against the Jeep CJ Models.

And that’s where it all begins.

Scout Models

The Origin Model: Scout 80 (1960-1965)

The first-generation Scouts were only produced for five years and featured removable sliding windows, a fold-down windshield, and a gas-powered 4-cylinder engine. The Scout 80 had two other variants, the Red Carpet Series and the Campermobile.

1963 International Scout Campemobile
1963 International Scout Campemobile – bringatrailer.com

The Red Carpet Series was a celebration of the 100,000th Scout sold. Only 3,000 Red Carpet Scouts were made with red seats and interior, a white exterior, and a special “Custom” medallion. Every International dealer in the U.S. was sent a Red Carpet Series Scout to use for promotion purposes.

The Campermobile is exactly what it sounds like, a Scout with a camper permanently attached to the body. The roof of this model was nearly double the height of the original Scout design and featured fold-down beds, a swinging ambulance-style door, as well as the optional deluxe design with a dinette, galley, and toilet. Some say less than 100 were made and there is only a handful left out there.

The Scout 800 (1965-1968)

1970 Scout 800

1970 International Scout 800 – @JeffMG68 on Twitter |  Shop International Scouts on Carsforsale.com

In 1965, the Scout 80 was replaced by the 800. International made improvements to the overall design, but also in comfort. With bucket seats, a better heating system, and two engine options (196hp four-cylinder or 232hp inline-six), the Scout 800 was a step above the 80. The Sportop, offered in 1966, was a fiberglass top package that included a slanted rear-roof and a spare tire kit. A Champagne version of the Scout was produced during the 80 and 800 model years for an even more upscale look inside and out. Fancy stuff, eh?

The Scout 800A & B Series (1968-1971)

The 800A and B Scout models included several small modifications to the Scout’s appearance. These Scouts were basically identical except the chrome headlights of the 800B. The 800B also had a Comanche Package option with special paint colors, trims, windows, and more. A snowplow package was introduced in 1970 just for those wishing to use the Scout for snow plowing purposes. Functional, yet comfortable was the name of the game.

Scout II (1971-1980)

1972 International Scout II

1972 International Scout II – hiconsumption.com |  Shop International Scouts on Carsforsale.com

You can identify Scout IIs by their grille. For every few years, the Scout IIs featured different grille designs from three horizontal bars to 14 vertical bars between headlights. By 1974, disc and power brakes were standard which had not been used much before in Scout models.

Special Edition Scouts

The Super Scout (Safari)

The SSII or the Super Scout was introduced as a direct competitor to Jeep’s CJ. Soft top, soft doors, and a roll bar were just a few of the options available on this extra off-road vehicle. Several Super Scouts were champions of the off-road circuit during the ‘70s, too.

The Swiss Safari & Sahara

Made by Monteverdi, a Swiss luxury car manufacturer, the Monteverdi versions of the Scout were a luxurious off-road wagon design. The Safari featured more radical changes to the original Scout design, whereas the Sahara only had a few things updated like the grille and interior. Engine options included a Chrysler 5.2, 5.7, or 7.2 L and Nissan diesel.

The Patriot and Spirit of ‘76

1976 International Scout Patriot

1976 International Scout Patriot – RidleyScottTowels on reddit.com |  Shop International Scouts on Carsforsale.com

In celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial, International produced two special models of the Scout. The Spirit of ‘76 featured a special blue soft top, blue interiors, and chrome wheels and was only offered on the Scout II Models. The Patriot edition was only slightly different with a hardtop and could be added to the Scout II, Terra, or Traveler models.

The Selective Edition

For gold everything, Scout lovers should have grabbed the Selective Edition back in 1978-1979. Gold accents, gold-spoke wheels, and other additional items like customized seats, interior, and several exterior colors like Dark Brown, Black, Dark Blue, and Green were available.

The Midas Edition

A special collaboration between International and Midas brought a very luxurious Scout to life. With shag carpet, swivel seats, sunroofs, and fender flares, the Midas Edition was a top-notch version of the Scout II design.

The Last Special Edition Trim

The rarest of all Scouts is the Special Limited Edition RS. Only available on the Traveler Scouts, this car was manufactured in what was then called “Tahitian Red” and had red accents to match. Wood-grain trim, striping, and tinted glass were just a few of the bells and whistles added to this edition.

The End of the Good Old Days

Just like Andy Bernard from The Office once said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in “the good old days” before you’ve actually left them.” The last Scout rolled off the production line in 1980 and little did we know we would miss the good old days.

As time passes us by, we see more and more concepts that take cues from the once-affordable, recreational, off-road vehicles like the Scout. The new Ford Bronco, Jeep Gladiator, Bollinger B1, and more continue to mold their designs around what once was. Maybe it’s the nostalgia of it all or just the way that vehicles like the Scout looked that keeps drawing us back to a truly durable, functional, rounded yet square-shaped SUV. Either way, we hope the good old days come back sooner rather than later.

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Erin Maxson

Erin loves nothing more than a good road trip. To her, getting behind the wheel is one of the biggest adventures you can take because it can lead to anywhere. Alongside her Toyota Tundra, you'll find her co-pilot pup, Rory, and a 1976 Airstream Argosy in tow. Her motto: Life is a scenic road, take your time and enjoy the ride.

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