By on August 30, 2021

Today’s Rare Ride is the fourth International Harvester product featured in this series, after a 1200 D, Travelall, and the 2000s era (and ridiculous) MXT personal semi-truck.

Let’s pay a visit to Scout (the first one).

Like the Travelall previously featured, the Scout was an early example of what would later be known as a sport utility vehicle. The Travelall entered production in 1953, but later in the decade, IH saw an additional opportunity for a smaller and more off-road focused truck. This new entry would rival the successful Jeep CJ. It was a new market segment: a recreational four-wheel drive vehicle; one not used strictly for work like in the past.

Late in 1960 for the 1961 model year, International debuted the Scout 80. Available as a truck with a removable cap or with a full-length removable roof, the Scout offered much two-door flexibility. The initial run of Scout 80s was from 1960 to 1965 and put the Scout into the American public’s consciousness as an off-road vehicle. Bare bones at this time like all proto-SUVs, rear seats were not even available in the Scout 80. The windshield folded down though, to let the insects gently tap one’s face while on the move.

During the ’65 model year, the 80 was upgraded to the 800. International focused on the improvement of passenger comfort, additional amenities, and more power. The 800 had a better heating system, a revised dashboard with improved instruments, and crucially, an optional rear seat. That meant a family might actually be able to use an 800 as an everyday car. The 800 series saw the base 2.5-liter (93 HP) of the 80 supplemented with an optional turbocharged version (111 HP), as well as a 3.8-liter inline-six, and 4.4-liter V8.

By late 1968 the 800 morphed into the 800A, which again improved comfort and added amenities. Added to the engine lineup was the optional 5.0-liter 304 V8. The 800A ran only from November 1968 through August 1970 before it was replaced by the 800B, officially the last first-gen Scout. 800Bs were made from August of ’70 through March of ’71, the 800B was mostly a filler model until the Scout II was ready to enter production. Notably, the Comanche trim package appeared and made the 800B look as fancy as possible.

Throughout the Scout’s run, there were numerous options packages and individual trim items that could for the most part be ordered independently. For example, the flip-down windshield was still available on the Scout 800 but was not often optioned because it was not advertised. Trim, engines, roof styles, Scouts were built in a hodgepodge of combinations. Add in the fact that International tended to grab parts from various suppliers all the time, and you end up with an artisanal-type run of trucks. But it was time to move on to bigger and better things, and by 1970 the SUV market was heating up.

In Part II we’ll suitably cover the other Scout, the II.

[Images: International Harvester]

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27 Comments on “Rare Rides: The International Harvester Scout, Not a Jeep (Part I)...”


  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Growing up, the neighbor next door who fought in Korea and kept his yard pristine and didn’t have kids and was a member of the NRA and owned a boat and enjoyed fishing had one of these and took it hunting. OK, not one of these – a newer one – the Part II kind. (Call it a Scout II.)

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I remember these, but not how they were sold. IH agricultural equipment dealers?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Good question! I seem to remember them selling these alongside farm equipment.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s correct, their passenger vehicles were sold at existing dealerships, which were almost entirely in rural areas.

        They tried to build into the suburbs and beef up the dealer network a little, but didn’t have enough name recognition (or money).

        I think that’s probably what killed them off in the end, they were too farm-centric and a bit inaccessible for the SUV buyer of the Seventies.

        • 0 avatar
          Old_WRX

          “too farm-centric”

          On that note, I notice that International Harvester trucks are now just “International” trucks — Harvester having gone the way of Roebuck.

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          Here in rural eastern Canada, the Scout was sold at existing IH dealers. The son of the local dealer in my town was in my grade in high school, so we were bombarded daily with pie-in-the-sky dreams about IH pickup trucks and how wonderful they were. You had to drive 25 miles away to the Ford dealer to get a F100 or F150, and hundreds did just that! The local Chevrolet dealer in our town made the most of his presence, and there were mighty few IH pickups around when I went off to college in ’63.

          The IH pickups were the worst quality sheet metal and rusted to blazes. The Scout came along at the start of my Grade 10 year, and distinguished itself as being an even worse rustbucket than the regular line. What a load of rubbish. Wrote those off in my mind’s eye almost sixty years ago.

          No wonder IH trucks faded away in the market. Just not up to par, so nobody bought the useless things. Even the Fargo sold at Plymouth dealers was more solid.

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          Here in rural eastern Canada, the Scout was sold at existing IH dealers. The son of the local dealer in my town was in my grade in high school, so we were bombarded daily with pie-in-the-sky dreams about IH pickup trucks and how wonderful they were. You had to drive 25 miles away to the Ford dealer to get a F100 or F150, and hundreds did just that! The local Chevrolet dealer in our town made the most of his presence, and there were mighty few IH pickups around when I went off to college in ’63.

          The IH pickups were the worst quality sheet metal and rusted to blazes. The Scout came along at the start of my Grade 10 year, and distinguished itself as being an even worse rustbucket than the regular line. What a load of rubbish. Wrote those off in my mind’s eye almost sixty years ago.

          No wonder IH trucks faded away in the market. Just not up to par, so nobody bought the useless things. Even the Fargo sold at Plymouth dealers was more solid.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Mostly Plymouth/Chrysler dealers. The Scout was initially considered its own line and they sold the franchise to any dealer but for what ever reason a lot of CP dealers bit. Of course many of the IH truck dealers signed up too which was a separate dealer body from the AG dealers though of course in some areas there were those that carried AG, Heavy Trucks, Light Line (pickups and Travelalls) which eventually encompassed the Scout, and of course Refrigeration.

      • 0 avatar
        IH_Fever

        My 73 came from one of the IH truck dealers in Houston. That was about as close to a “car dealership” IH ever had. Pick up the oil filter for your 345 v8 scout ii and another for your 345 v8 grain truck. :)

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    They were assembled in Fort Wayne Indiana. I’ve been to the factory. There was proving grounds and engineering/development also.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The vehicle of choice of forest rangers

  • avatar
    slow_poke

    My uncle who was a farmer in North Dakota got one used from a friend and said it could go everywhere but was frustrating in the winter on dirt (well, snow covered) roads because the track wasn’t the same width as full sized cars so would have trouble on unplowed driven on roads. eventually got rid of it. i remember it, that same yellow and really small…

  • avatar
    IH_Fever

    IH was all over the place with what they used. For instance, engines in the early scouts were mostly one of 2 IH 4 cylinders, the optional 266 v8 came next, then came the IH 304 (NOT AMC 304.) But to confuse matters you could have an AMC I6. Makes for a good time at the parts counter. :D

  • avatar
    Bernard Giroux

    As a French-Canadian I really appreciate that the add at the end. Thanks.

    edit. The add mention that the truck is assemble in Chatham Ontario Canada and that special attention was made to comfort and usability. Available at 800 dealers in Canada.

  • avatar
    celica0774

    Hey, wait a minute!
    There’s a 800B model and no picture of the emblem/logo/sticker?
    That’s gotta be worth a couple of junior high school level comments.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Really enjoy this series and all Corey’s series. Corey’s and Murilee’s posts are the main reason I still come back to this site.

  • avatar
    stuart

    G-rated (safe for work) video of a recently-exhumed 1964 Scout (delete XX to view):

    XXhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_I7xEY-t2M

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