Junkyard Find: 1979 International Harvester Scout

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

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]

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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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.

  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.
  • CAMeyer Considering how many voters will be voting for Trump because they remember that gas prices were low in 2020–never mind the pandemic—this seems like a wise move.
  • The Oracle Been out on the boat on Lake James (NC) and cooking up some hella good food here with friends at the lake place.