The Top-Ten Most Influential Scout Models

post by
Jim Allen
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In this original article, International Scout Encyclopedia author Jim Allen identifies the top-ten most influential models throughout the history of the IH Scout line. Follow along with Allen as he describes just why this stellar lineup of top-ten models make the cut. Catch Jim Allen at this year's Red Power Round Up in Bloomsburg, PA, where the Scout will take center stage as this year's featured line. Keep an eye on the Octane Press Facebook for more details!

As the 1970s was hammered by fuel shortages and massive price increases, the government began mandating fuel economy standards and the automotive industry scrambled to develop more fuel efficient vehicles. Thrifty diesel powerplants became one element in a new equation. International's contribution was to add a 3.3L, six-cylinder Nissan diesel to the Scout engine options for 1976. This gives International the nod for offering the first domestically built diesel-powered SUV/light truck. Other manufacturers would soon follow suit but IH did it first.

The 1960s Sport Utility market was booming and trending towards comfortable daily drivers that could be used as a recreational rig on the weekends. A key element in that was an automatic transmission option but  manufacturers were slow in offering it. International noted the success arch-rival Jeep was having with automatics in competing models and delivered a response in the 1969 800A models. A Borg-Warner 3-speed automatic was offered as an option behind the newly-introduced 232 ci six cylinder and 304ci V8. The rest is history and an automatic transmission held a permanent spot on the Scout options list from then on.

#8: CUSTOM FOR '66
During the '61-65 Scout 80 era, the International Sales Department learned two things. First, there was a strong demand for a higher level of trim. Second, a higher level of trim actually increased the profit margins on vehicles so equipped. The '66 model year marked a series of updates to the Scout that made them more quiet, dry, and comfortable in general. Adding a Custom trim level to the new Scout 800 made them truly friendly to the daily driver.  A V8 option, slated for introduction in '66, would have enhanced all that, but technical difficulties delayed implementation until '67.

The Scout 80 was introduced as a compact pickup with an optional full-length top. To the IH marketing department's surprise, people ordered full-length Traveltops  4:1 over Cabtop pickups while cursing the fixed bulkhead that prevented the Scout from having a usable back seat. The answer was obvious but implementation took time. By July of '62, an interim conversion had been developed that could be made on the assembly line or by dealers and a limited run of 2,000 was offered as a tie-over. They were so popular that the order was increased twice. The familiar removable bulkhead was finally introduced into February 1963 production.

You probably could have heard a pin drop in some parts of International's corporate headquarters in 1972 when they learned freelance Baja racer Jimmy Jones had won his class in the Baja 1000 race with a '72 Scout II. The truly stodgy ones probably went right back to work but others in marketing put hand to chin and said, "Hmmm!" It was an uphill struggle to convince the powers-that-were to utilize the opportunity but five years later, International sponsored racing teams and debuted a sporty new model called the SSII. All as a result of this humble '72 Scout II Cabtop kicking butt in the Mexican desert.

When the Scout SSII debuted for 1977, it marked International's first foray into motorsports and another effort to "out-jeep" the Jeep.  Four-wheeling had become an American pastime and the SSII condensed all the Scout's four-wheeling attributes into a back-to-basics trail brawler with lots of buildup potential. Ongoing at this time was International's sponsorship of four desert racing teams, delivering a heapin'-helpin' of publicity and advertising opportunities. With the SSII, the Scout changed out of a three-piece pinstripe suit into bell-bottom pants, a polyester leisure jacket, and platform sole shoes.  

The Traveler debuted in 1976 as a replacement for the truck-based Travelall that had ended production the year before.  It was 18 inches longer than the Scout II Traveltop and much more roomy, though still only a two-door. With the capacity of a half-ton truck, it became a comfortable tow rig for RV'ers. For 1977, International debuted the Midas packages, one of which is shown here with the fiberglass Traveler top removed. Midas International had an RV division known for van conversions. Midas and International developed some unique, wonderful, and very '70s packages along the same lines of a plush van conversion.

The 1965 Red Carpet Series was International's first try at a luxury package in response to customer requests for a more comfortable Scout. Using "luxury" in the same sentence as "Scout 80" is almost a contradiction of terms, but this "Doll-Up"  was a good try, Doll-Up being the internal IH nomenclature for a high-end Scout. Production of the 100,000th Scout in July of 1964 gave International the excuse to bring the Red Carpet to market. It was built to the tune of about 3,400 units and with color scheme changes, became the '65 Champagne Series. The package contents morphed into the Custom trim package for '66 Scout 800s.

This '78 Scout II Rallye represents both the Scout II, which is probably the Scout that comes first to most minds, and the many special packages with which International gleaned a lot of sales success. The Rallye package, which debuted for the 1976 model year, was one of the more popular of those and it ran right through to the end of the Scout line in 1980. It offered a lot of pizzazz for the money and included a few performance-oriented features like better shocks and tires, plus the visual appeal of the stripes, chrome Rallye wheels, and an upgraded interior.

Of course, the number one most influential Scout has to be the one that started it all, the Scout 80. Mike Ismail's 1961 Scout 80, serial number FC522, is the 22nd Scout built and the earliest known complete and restored survivor. It represents what International incorrectly thought would be the top seller, the 4x2 Cabtop. Despite the error, the Scout went on to nearly overwhelm International's normally slow-paced production environment and bring more mainstream attention to the company than any product of that time.  The first production Scout, FC501, still exists in parts.

Find the complete lineage of the International Scout in the International Scout Encyclopedia by Jim Allen.
See you at Red Power Round Up 2019 in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, with this year's theme none other than the IH Scout!