By on April 18, 2016

1979 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH front seats - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

1979 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH engine - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

1979 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH rust - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

1979 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH hub lock label - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

1979 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH radio - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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

1979 International Harvester Scout in Colorado Junkyard, LH front view - ©2016 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

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.

1978 International Scout II-02

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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28 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1979 International Harvester Scout...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    “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? ”

    you can still get the F-250/350 4×4 with manual transfer case and manual hubs.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      You…you swiped my comment! Although I would add: It’s only standard on XL and XLT, and on all Super Dutys, including 450/550 chassis cabs. And I feel like it’ll be gone come the 2017 models.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I doubt it’ll be gone, gotta keep the cheap option for the low-spec trucks.

        besides, the 2016 4×2 trucks still use Twin I-Beam front suspension.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          Ram and GM [appear to] have moved to electronic locking hubs even on Tradesman and WT models.

          • 0 avatar
            VaderSS

            I prefer manual hubs. Much more reliable… Just lock them before heading into the wild.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Manual hubs are certainly superior to the old vacuum hubs. But as has happened with essentially every other technology, electronic hubs have surpassed them in every other aspect that the .01% of the time they end up being less reliable goes unnoticed.

  • avatar
    RobertRyan

    They were one crude device.Even by 1970’s Australian Standards they were rough.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Kinda sad how IHC never addressed the rust traps designed into these sturdy little rigs .

    I’m surprised no one grabbed the top and rear seat .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Could be they’re now so rare, there’s not much of a market for the top and rear seat.

      Sure, on the Internet. But the junkyard boyz are probably not in tune with the finer points of the value of various cult classics. They think VOLUME – and this doesn’t have it.

      Unless someone wises them up, the top and seat go into the shredder with the rest of the rig.

      Rust: IH was only a little worse than the standard Detroit fare of the day. Now, they always had an issue – basically because the their focus was shifting from consumer light-trucks, to their two core businesses, heavy trucks and ag equipment. So, while Detroit was doing some work to mitigate the new rust problem from the new tendency to pave Northern roads with rock salt in winter…IH was just letting it go. A small division of a company in serious trouble; a company which had already jettisoned their truck line. The Scout was IH’s 1966 Studebaker…the last run, driven only by inertia and habit. They didn’t care that it would rust or that customers wouldn’t be coming back. Probably they knew there’d be no repeat sales, long before the customers signed the purchase order.

      As for primitive: We’ve gotten spoiled. I was getting into Jeeps when Jeep was getting into luxury; and a lot of the Jeep specialty garages were genuinely puzzled. What is a luxury Jeep? What kind of LOON takes a car that sells for Cadillac prices, and runs it down a logging trail, over stumps…carrying wet, smelly hunters, covered with gore from field-dressing…and then, loads that leather brougham box with 300 pounds of dead elk, oozing blood?

      You don’t, they concluded. The market for true utility vehicles would shift elsewhere; and Jeep would become something…else.

      They were right.

      • 0 avatar
        scottcom36

        I see that Wrangler steering wheel with all the buttons and think that if the roof were taken off and any rain got on that wheel all those functions would get screwed up.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Actually ;

        Having been there in the 1960’s in rust / salt country I can tell you that Scouts were far worse than anything else Detroit made for rusting out ~ they had horrible designed in mud traps .

        I vividly remember the passenger side door falling right off one day , less than three years old .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      thattruthguy

      Scouts were built from a series of rust traps.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Cain’t you hear them banjos?!

    Run, slender blonde boy, run!

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    It’s always a pleasure to click through images of the rusting bones of what was once was an austere truck first and foremost, that tried to be a passenger vehicle second, – solid axles with leafs front and rear to the very end of its production.

    36 years later there is the option of a Toyota 4 Runner, which is a palace on wheels by comparison. Even the current Jeep Wrangler seem posh inside compared to a IH Scout II.

    • 0 avatar
      JustPassinThru

      Well, that’s progress.

      I remember a couple of Popular Science tests on this class of rig. Norbye and Dunn were really impressed by the new luxury Scout II. Later, in 1977, Dunn and Ceppos (Norbye having disappeared) were likewise struck by the “Luxury” Jeep CJ-7 Renegade.

      The rig that apparently broke through the glass ceiling was the Hornet-based Eagle – with its carpeting and leather, an obvious car with a Jeep drivetrain underneath. Ever since, it’s been a race for softer, thicker, deeper, higher-priced.

      I guess it’s great if you want to be coddled on your way to the ski resort, or feel you need this sort of transportage to and from work when it’s snowing. But something’s lost…hence the market for 4-wheel utility vehicles and old pickup trucks.

  • avatar

    Is it weird that I’m wishing MM had photographed that 1-year-only ’93 Grand Wagoneer in the background?

    I’m a sucker for Chrysler products that are covered in di-noc.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    I had an Uncle who loved his Scout but it rusted out from beneath him – he’d patch it together and the panels he put in didn’t rust by the Scout continued. You couldn’t break the powertrain on these, but the bodies were truly worse than Detroit average on rust.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Manly men doing manly things need a manly truck.

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    What sort of bait do you use for bearded-guy fishing?

  • avatar

    My aunt bought one of these new in about 1974 for city driving in Philadelphia, and she chose it because there were no options, really. She had a pathological hatred of options.

    She kept telling the guy at the dealership “no options,” and, in the end, he gave her what she wanted.

    So: indestructible (but rust-prone) truck with no radio and no back seat (that was an option too).

    When we’d visit, me and my sister would ride in the back on a custom-cut piece of 5″ foam.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Now, contrast this with the Yukon Tim wrote about today, and try and imagine that shod with the same wagon wheels as the Scout posed with Beardy McFlyfishers.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    Restoring an old Scout has always been on my bucket list…. but the older I get, the less appealing it seems. If Ford comes out with a new Bronco, I’d probably sink the Scout funds into that instead.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    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.

  • avatar
    Testacles Megalos

    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.


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