By on August 31, 2021

Yesterday’s edition of Rare Rides covered the first-generation International Harvester Scout. Born in 1960 at the very beginning of the recreational sport utility vehicle class, a decade later it was time for the always difficult second album: Scout II.

By the end of the Sixties, the Scout faced much more competition than the Jeep CJ: Ford introduced the Bronco in 1965, and Chevrolet brought along the K5 Blazer in 1969. The 11-year-old original Scout IH wrapped up its 800B series in March 1971, and in April the aptly named Scout II went into production.

International knew another Scout was needed some years before, and the no-nonsense Scout II styling was finalized and shown to management at the end of 1967. Not a huge departure from the original Scout, II was identified by its new three-bar horizontal grille design (in place of the Scout’s mesh) and more pronounced square trim bezels surrounding the headlamps. Those statements apply only to 1971 and 1972, as International almost immediately began fiddling with bezels, grilles, and badges to keep the product looking as fresh as possible.

Scout II was built at the same Fort Wayne, Indiana factory as the first Scout, and much like its elder sibling was available with various roof solutions. Most SUV-like was the Travel-Top, the full metal “wagon” roof treatment. But there was also a Cab-Top (the pickup truck version), and Panel-Top, a Travel-Top sans side windows. The least popular version for obvious reasons was the Roadster, which had no roof.

Engines in the Scout II were upsized a bit over the elder Scout and started with the old 196 cubic inch inline-four from International. Up-level options included 232 and 259 cubic inch inline-six engines from AMC, 304 and 345 International V8s, and two inline-six diesels from Nissan: A 198 cubic inch SD33 engine, with or without turbocharging. The turbodiesel Nissan was the rarest engine option of them all and was only used in 1979 and 1980.

Later in the II’s run, International introduced the Terra and Traveler versions that used fiberglass roofs. The Terra was a Cab-Top, and the Traveler had a full Travel-Top with that most modern of SUV ideas, a rear liftgate. These two models were additionally notable as they sported an 18-inch wheelbase extension, added right in the middle.

Among the other special trims and editions on the Scout II (even Midas got in on it), two companies – CVI of Fort Wayne and Goodtimes Inc. of Arlington – created several special appearance trims in 1979 and 1980. These special editions were the last of the Scout II, as International suffered major financial and competitive setbacks throughout the Seventies and were forced to shut down their light-duty truck line entirely in 1980.

All CVI/Goodtimes trucks wore special stickers and trim, had coolers in the center console, and wore various tailgates, fender flares, and special paint colors. CVI produced 14 different Scout II special editions, and among them was the oddly named Midnitestar. A brown and gold-themed special edition (sometimes blue and gold), Midnitestar wore gold trim, stickers, and wheels on a basic dark brown body. It had a unique six-bar tailgate design and sported big louvers along rear side windows. Inside, the trim was suitably gold-themed. It was all very 1979.

Today’s Rare Ride is one such Midnitestar, powered by the 345 IH V8. It has an automatic transmission and four-wheel drive, and has been previously restored and sold on BaT in 2018, then sold again in 2019. Now it’s for sale in New York for $41,995.

[Images: International Harvester, Midas]

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

  • avatar

    Great write-up on these! The second photo in the listing for the vehicle for-sale appears to show a completely different vehicle, as it has a soft top. Not sure what that’s in there for…

  • avatar

    The car in that ad is a dead ringer for the Scout my dad owned. My brother got into a wreck with it on his first day with a license – the back end ended up destroyed (long story). My dad sold it to the shop that serviced the car and they used it as a push/tow car for many years afterwards.

  • avatar

    I always loved the Scout II’s especially the Terra

    I had a friend in HS that would on occasion drive his dad’s to school. It was a 1980 with the 345 V8 in a horrible dove grey and white combo. I remember there was a steel patch around the gas filler due to some rust issues. The thing was a beast that could go through anything.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That example for sale is pretty sweet, but it’s been flipped more than a burger – 2018, 2019, and 2021.

    Serious question: Is $41k for this ‘collector’ vehicle an appropriate price? Rust-wise, it’s cleaner than some new F-150s. /s

  • avatar

    I hardly remember these, by 1980 Jeeps, Blazers and Broncos were killing it on the 4X4 front

  • avatar

    Minor point worth mentioning: Nissan did NOT exist. Hint, future story please on why Japanese mega-corps did this.

  • avatar

    I remember a TV commercial for the Scout II in which it was driven by a newly married bridegroom with his new bride in the passenger seat. Driving away from the church they were followed by wedding guests in their cars honking at them, until the groom shifted into 4-wheel drive and drove off the road, leaving the guests in their cars behind on the road. To the top of a scenic hill he drove, where he and his bride got out of their Scout II and kissed. “Oh, Archibald!” declared the bride. “Call me Archie,” replied the groom. A follow-up commercial featured the same couple driving their Scout II on a honeymoon trip through a jungle.

    I always thought the character’s name, “Archie,” was intended as a tribute to International Harvester president and CEO, Archie McCardell, but he didn’t come on board until 1977 or so.

    The extended wheelbase Scout II Terra Pickup and the Scout II Traveler were introduced in 1976 and, in some ways, they were seen as replacements (although imperfect replacements) for the full-sized International Pickups and Travelalls which were discontinued in 1975.

    There’s a decent article about Archie McCardell on Wikipedia that appears to be mostly accurate. It talks about how his management at International Harvester contributed to IHC’s decision to stop production of the Scout II. He alienated the workforce, provoked the UAW into a long strike, and led IHC to what were then record losses for an American corporation.

  • avatar

    Actually 41k is a bit of bargain for a Scout this nicely restored. Unfortunately the age old adage that rare does not necessarily mean desirable applies in this case. The midnitestar has a ton of tacky awful plastic addons that really ruin the clean design of the Scout II. In todays market a SSII or even a Rallye in this good condition would go for 50-60.. While Scouts aren’t quite as dear as Broncos they still go for big money, there are plenty of 6 figure restomods with LS’s and such running around now.. BTW I restored a Scout in 2009 and I love it.. Great trucks, perfect size stance and actually really good ride quality.

    • 0 avatar

      By 1980, like any floundering independent, IH was desperate and throwing anything at the wall to see what would (ironically) stick, and that’s where all the tacky, JC Whitney decals and froufrou was coming from. It was a cheap and easy way to get some attention, pretty much the same thing that sleazier dealers used to tack-on for some added profit. Today, it’s outrageously marked-up stuff like $500 for nitrogen in the tires.

      It’s reminiscent of all the factory ‘limited-edition’ ponycars GM and Ford spit out for quite a princely sum that the rubes would scarf up and put in storage for some perceived big pay-off decades later, which never happens. The whole thing really got going with the original Mustang California Specials with their quasi-Shelby add-ons which have continued to this very day.

      Personally, I certainly don’t see it with a Scout II Midnitestar, even one as pristine as the feature ride. Of particular note is the typical “I know what I’ve got” attitude of the seller and I suspect that if he’s really serious, he’s not going to get anything close to 41 large for it. That guy seems to be catfishing and, while it would be an interesting item at local car shows, not for that price.

      There’s a big car show/swapmeet every year in Springfield, OH that always has an array of nice IH vehicles on display. That guy should consider hauling his Midnitestar to that since he’d probably have his best shot at selling it there.

  • avatar

    First picture:

    • Those dual pop-up sunroofs are cool.

    • I am intrigued by the paint job on the pickup at the top right. I count a *lot* of paint colors (five? six?) which means a lot of masking, and time. [Talking about even two colors will get you kicked out of many OEM paint plants.]


    • 0 avatar

      If Im not mistaken I think those stripes were decals

    • 0 avatar

      I was intrigued by the OEM dual pop-up skylights, as well. Can’t say I’m much of a fan of them (or any of those aftermarket pop-up/removable sunroofs, for that matter), but those things were quite common back in the day and I wonder if that’s the only factory installation, at least of the smaller, dual type.

      I do know of at least one other factory pop-up sunroof, and that was on the original 1978-80 Ford Fiesta imported from Germany. That one was particularly interesting since you actually got ‘two’ sunroofs: the typical tinted one, plus a metal, body color extra. I guess the metal one would be useful as something of a security measure.

  • avatar

    Frequent labor strikes and the constant bitter war between line workers and management ensured horrible build quality. Non existent R and D budget. This ensured a body that leaked water and dust like it was not even there. Tin worm appeared before the 24mo. financing was even paid off. A mix-match of OE main driveline and body components that changed model year mid-stream. This made locating parts and wrenching interesting. Bake and shake gutless half a V-8, and the very thirsty and overbuilt 345s. I could go on. Peak Malaise!

    Before the 78′ the choice was Blazer or Ramcharger. 78′ on… Bronco was the choice. Sorry, it was a failure.

  • avatar

    Pet Peeve of mine. I would never buy any vehicle that was “finished in” any color. Finishes are for wood – which is sometime re-finished. Automobiles get painted.

    “This 1979 International Harvester Scout II is a Midnitestar Edition which is finished in Dark Brown Metallic…”

    This vehicle is PAINTED Dark Brown Metallic. Or better yet, it’s a Dark Brown Metallic 1979 International Harvester Scout II. Why be so pretentious about it?

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