International Scout - Scout Evolution

The Risse and Fall of International's Popular Scout

Bill Senefsky
Jan 1, 2008
Photo 2/4   |   international Scout 1961 Scout 80
In 1961, International's best seller wasn't a truck, it was a new and revolutionary all-purpose platform called the Scout. In fact, the Scout brand would become the all-time best seller for the Fort Wayne, Indiana-based company.
First dubbed the Scout 80, this simple and rugged platform equaled the performance of the famed Willys Jeep. Its advantage was totally modern mechanicals along with distinctive styling. The Scout 80 concept actually started in the '50s when International's management pushed its styling and engineering departments for a versatile two-wheel-drive platform aimed at the farming community. Several styling studies were considered, and by the end of 1958, a few rectangular-structured prototypes were created.
Plastic Body StructuresManagement approved of the concept, and the engineers studied a variety of materials to be utilized in the Scout's construction. Steel, of course, was the current industry standard, but several automakers were also experimenting with a variety of plastics at the time. Goodyear had invented a manageable process to make plastic vehicle bodies, but International determined the materials to be cost-prohibitive at the time.
The Scout's first styling prototypes left no doubt the vehicle was designed as a truck. Senior management, however, deemed its rear bed too short, and thus, not practical as a pickup. The decision was made to enclose the vehicle and create a pseudo station wagon. Versatility quickly entered the fray, and the new platform was modified to include a removable top and doors. When corporate saw the first development vehicles, it was decided that a four-wheel-drive option would also be added.
Built For the FarmThe Scout 80's marketing campaign was directed at farm owners. In-house program critics wanted to expand the Scout's appeal with the addition of a rear passenger seat. This sensible but small addition created internal engineering problems, however, as the original platform had included an engineered bulkhead in the body structure that would prevent a rear seat from being fitted to the first Scouts.
Photo 3/4   |   international Scout 1969 Scout 800a
Unique EnginesThe new 14-ton Scout was powered by a novel engineering idea. To save design and production costs, it was decided to cut the 304ci, V-8 mill in half and utilize the innards. This radically inclined, slant-four mini-mill displaced 152 ci and had five main bearings, 8:1 compression, and developed 93 hp at 4,000 rpm.
The first Scout 80 had gone from sketch to production in only 24 months. In the first year, 28,031 Scouts were produced. Three years later, 100,000 units were roaming the countryside.
The Redesigned Scout 800In 1965, International updated the Scout 80 to the new Scout 800 series. Along with the new 800 designation came an optional turbocharged version of the I-4 gas engine, producing 111 hp at 4,000 rpm and 166 lb-ft at 3,200 rpm. The fold-down windshield feature was eliminated, and a Half-Scout ultrastripped platform was available for custom accessory builders. Half-Scouts included only the front enclosed cowl, with or without a top and windshield. In 1966, International added stronger axles along with a 266ci V-8 developing 154 hp at 4,400 rpm. Total vehicle production was up to 22,000 units that year. The '68 units were basically carryovers, but the turbo-four was dropped and a 196ci I-4 became the base engine. AMC's 232ci inline-six, dubbed 6-232, made its appearance in 1969 along with International's 193hp, 304ci V-8. In November 1968, the 200,000th Scout was produced.
SCOUT IIDecember 1967 saw the first styling mock-ups of a larger Scout II. The platform featured more of everything, including increased passenger space and a variety of powerplant options. This new Scout series would be introduced in March 1971. The Scout II was longer, had wider doors, and became more mainstream with bright-metal exterior trim. Metal TravelTop and CabTop versions were offered along with the Econo units, which utilized the cloth fabric. The Half-Scout was also continued.
The four-cylinder, 196ci engine remained, delivering 111 hp. New additions were AMC's 150hp, 258 inline-six, replacing the old 232. International's in-house 345 V-8s were added. Five transmission choices were offered.
As expected, the heavier front axles were rated at 2,500 pounds with the rears offering up to 3,500 pounds of capacity. Optional suspension choices included higher-capacity leaf springs front and rear. Air suspension, as well as a bumper-mounted winch, were also optional on the 4x4s. Scout II sales doubled '70 figures with almost 30,000 units sold.
The Scout II series for 1973 displayed a new split vertical bar grille, which could be described as very Jeepish. The V-8 mills remained, but the slant-four disappeared. The company's T-13 and T-14 transmissions were replaced with Warner's T-322. A Dana 44 3,200-pound-capacity front axle was optional on the 4x4s.
Rallye stripping was added. Another rare bird, a Scout II panel version, brought 85 cubic feet of rear space to the market. At the end of May 1973, 300,000 Scouts had been sold.
In 1975, the 196ci slant-four returned as the standard powerplant. The outsourced AMC 258 inline was dropped. A new version of the 345ci V-8 was added, now labeled the V-345A.
Photo 4/4   |   international Scout 1976 Scout 2
1975 saw the demise of the company's traditional pickup-truck line. The Scout II was modified to fill this huge void. Two models, the Terra pickup and the Traveler two-door wagon, joined the 100-inch-wheelbase Scout II brand. The new offerings rode on 118-inch platforms and were available in 4x2 and 4x4 configurations.
THE SCOUT DIESEL CONNECTIONDecember 1975 saw the introduction of the Nissan-supplied, 3.2L, six-cylinder, slant-mounted, inline diesel mill. Offered only in the Scout II, Terra truck, and Traveler platforms, the new mill displaced 198 ci, producing 92 hp at 4,000 rpm and 137 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. This new optional mill featured a cast-iron block with a bore and stroke of 3.27 x 3.94 inches. This was Nissan's famed CN6-33 mill, which was incidentally first offered to Chrysler but was rejected for the American market for acceleration issues. A turbocharged version was later offered to International to help mute this concern. A four-speed manual or three-speed automatic transmission transferred the diesel's power through 3.54 axle gears.
Bicentennial ScoutsInternational had bigger plans in store for the Scout series in 1976 because the company had eliminated its light-truck lineup. First, the company was attempting to broaden its recreational market by adding special packages for the Scout platforms. 1976 was an Olympic year, as well as the U.S.'s 200th birthday, so a U.S. Ski Team graphics package was offered along with a Spirit model. In truth, both tape treatments were identical with the specialized logos being added. Special wheels and tires rounded out the packages. Scout
Rallye versions also featured tape stripes, and the new economy stripped-down versions were offered without doors or metal tops. The Econo Scout was developed into the later Scout SS II. Equipment packages included a Rancher Special--a 4x2 platform combined with a T-427 four-speed manual, 4.09 rear axle, and the standard 196ci four-banger. A Brush Buster package added 4x4 running gear with the 304ci V-8 along with 3.54 gearing.
All the above packages included heavy-duty springs, shocks, and clutch assembles along with mud and snow tires. In addition, they all came with the full-length cloth tops and a rollbar. In 1976, 41,572 Scouts were produced.
In 1977, the Scout line endured another mild facelift. A new grille similar to its original was added along with XLC badging. Nissan's diesel mill was continued with its 22:1 compression, 92 hp, and its glow-plug starting system. The units also used a new precombustion chamber design for an improved fuel mix. The performance Scout SS II was introduced in January, eager to take on AMC's CJ series. Scouts remained unchanged for 1978 except for new tape treatments and slight grille modification. The Nissan diesel option had a cost of $2,581.
The Scout brand continued in 1979 with no mechanical changes. The company continued to match the competition by offering revised tape and trim treatments along with adding dealer-installed accessory packages.One of the most unique was the Suntanner Package. Offered on the Terra pickup, the kit included a padded rollbar mounted behind the front seats along with a mini vinyl top, which covered the rear cab area along with a combined tonneau/bed cover. The platform's standard hardtop could be remounted for the harsh winter season.
500,000 Scouts LaterInternational's high profit margins and sales popularity were about to change drastically in November 1979. In that month, a union strike hit the company hard. The strike dragged on until the following spring, and if that weren't enough, the country entered a recession. Sales dropped to a two-decade low along with interest financing reaching 21.5 percent. The company instantly lost $575 million. One of the strike's victims was the entire Scout program.
In spite of the strike and its rash aftermath, the Scout brand demonstrated some interesting traits for 1980. Though the changes in appearance and equipment were minimal, 1980 saw Scout diesel sales skyrocket to 5,400 units with the availability of a new turbo version. Previously, diesel sales ran about 1,000 units annually.
A new grille design along with an 844 package highlighted the Scout's final year. The 844 label stood for the cylinder count, transmission speeds, and all-wheel-drive powertrain.
Tragically, International had several behind-the-scenes programs that were really interesting. Two concepts of the Scout III were in the works, with one version's prototype actually shown to the public on tour. This was the vinyl Scout program, with the entire body panel areas made from vinyl. The other program showed Scout mock-ups remarkably taking the overall styling cues from the new smaller Jeep Cherokee, known to be introduced in 1983. Picture a Cherokee greenhouse mounted on a Scout II lower body with the SS II front grille, and you'll understand.
Sadly, after International flirted with the possibility of outside investors or owners, the company killed the Scout brand, and the final Scout rolled off the assembly line on October 31, 1980.

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