Junkyard Find: 1979 International Harvester Scout

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1979 international harvester scout

Is it fair that I photograph just about every reasonably intact International Harvester Scout that I see in wrecking yards, while ignoring nearly all air-cooled Volkswagen Beetles that I find in the same yards? Probably not, though I’m making an effort to shoot the more interesting Beetles now. No matter what happens with Beetles in this series, though, when I see a Scout in the junkyard, I’m going to document it.

1979 was the next-to-last year for the IHC Scout, as truck shoppers moved away from indestructible-but-uncivilized four-wheel-drive steel boxes that rattled like a coffee can full of sockets falling downstairs on every road irregularity and swilled fuel without regard for certain events in the Middle East.

Today’s SUV drivers would consider just about everything about the Scout to be absolutely unacceptable, although that tune would change if the zombie apocalypse came and they had to do some real off-road driving in the boonies.

According to the emissions sticker under the hood, this truck came with IHC’s 304-cubic-inch V8 under the hood. Don’t confuse this engine with the unrelated the 304-cubic-inch V8 installed in many AMC products (including, confusingly, Jeeps) during the 1970s.

Is there rust? Oh yes, there most certainly is rust! I think that I have finally found a rusty Colorado vehicle that will earn the respect of Michigan residents.

Wait, you mean you have to stop and get outside the truck and kneel in the mud to switch between two- and four-wheel-drive? Yes, and the Scout had no cup holders, no leather, and no luxury of any sort.

However, this one had been upgraded with a genuine UNISEF brand 2-band stereo cassette deck, with fast-forward.

This truck is several notches past being restoration-worthy, so it’s hard to argue with the economics of stuffing it into The Crusher. If you’d like to look at some other doomed Scouts in less-rusty condition, the Junkyard Find series includes this ’70, this ’71, this ’72, this ’73, this ’74, and this ’74.

Nothing says “real truck” better than parking it in a stream for some bearded-guy fishing.

[Images: © 2016 Murilee Martin/The Truth About Cars]

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  • Jimal Jimal on Apr 19, 2016

    I will never willingly own a SUV. I would proudly own a Scout, and intend to some day. One of my brother's friends had an orange Scout like this back in the day, except it was in exceptional condition. There is a guy in my town who drives around what appears to be a fully restored Scout of this vintage; light blue with the white stripe package. I have to say I'm a little jealous every time I see it.

  • Testacles Megalos Testacles Megalos on Apr 27, 2016

    In the 70s one of the cars that passed through my garage - actually stayed a couple of years - was a '61 Scout 4WD. Despite its smallish 4, in 4Low it would crawl over anything encountered if one were clever enough to avoid high-centering it (not a skill possessed by at least one 20 year old). In the midwest blizzards of '77 and '78 it was one of the few cars that could navigate the roads (unless one high centered it, and on those occassions it was helpful to have several friends along and a close-by farmhouse to lend shovels). It would get 25-30 mpg at 40-45 mph with the fronts unlocked and the xfer case in 2wd. Rapidly dropped to about 10 mpg if one tried to push to the Nixonian speed limit. What a great car. It rusted out from underneath me, a real shame. I'd have another one of those. Being older, I'd pay more attention to landscape vs. wheelbase. I think.

  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.
  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers.