Classic Cars A to Z

International Scout History (1960-1980)

Article by Mark Trotta

Created as a competitor to the Jeep, the International Harvester Scout was introduced in November of 1960 and is considered to be one of the earliest sport utility vehicles.

History of the IHC Scout

The Scout and later Scout II models were available with a full-length removable hardtop, cab-top removable hardtop, or a canvas soft top, all on a pickup-style bed.


In the early 1950s, the only small 4X4 vehicle offered in the U.S. was the Kaiser-Willys Jeep, whose direct origins were the U.S. Military Jeep produced during World War II.



The International Harvester Company, who manufactured agricultural equipment and commercial trucks, began designing the Scout in 1959. By November 1960 the first Scout was available, with 1961 being the first model year.

Scout 80 (1961-1965)

Available in either two- or four-wheel drive, the 13-foot-long Scout rode on a 100-inch wheelbase and featured a tighter turning radius than the CJ Jeep. Options included a removable pickup cap or removable full-length TravelTop.

Like Jeeps of the day, the original Scout featured a fold-down windshield and easily removed steel doors. Very early examples (1961-E1962) had removable sliding side windows.

International Harvester Scout History

Scout 80 Engine

The base engine was a 152 cubic-inch (2.5 litre) four-cylinder engine producing 93 horsepower. The engine was designed to share parts with International Harvester's 304 V8 engine. In doing so, IHC saved the expense of not having to design and build a completely new engine from scratch.

In 1964, International offered an optional turbocharged version of the same motor, boosting power output to 111 horsepower and producing 166 lb-ft of torque.

History of the International Scout

From 1961 to 1965, IHC sold just over 100,000 Scout 80's.


Scout 800 (1966-1971)

Late in 1965, the Scout 800 debuted. It was the same overall design as the 80, but with a redesigned interior, which included bucket seats, new instrumentation and heating system, and optional rear seats.

Whereas Scout 80's had their wiper motor at the top of a folding windshield, Scout 800's had a fixed windshield with the wiper motor down at the base of the glass.



The fold-down windshield was still available, but was not advertised and few were ordered. The new 800 models retained the hood of the 80, complete with tie-down loop for the the folding windshield.

IHC Scout Engine Choices (1965-1971)

Previously, only a three-speed manual transmission was available. A four-speed manual transmission was now optional on the Scout 800. Later models were upgraded from Dana 27 axles to stronger Dana 44 axles.

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The 266ci V8 engine became available on March 1967.

Scout 800A

In 1968, International Harvester announced the Scout 800A to replace the original 800. The following year, Scouts were available with International's 304ci V8.

Scout 800B

The 800B model replaced the 800A in August of 1970 and was produced for just 8 months. Although the 800B received several minor upgrades, the two were basically identical except the chrome headlights of the 800B.


IHC Scout II (1971-1980)

Going against traditional new model introductions in the fall, IHC introduced the Scout II in the spring of 1971. Visually, it was similar to the older Scouts, using the same sheet metal but with a new front grille design.



Although longer and wider, the Scout II rode on the same 100-inch wheelbase as previous models. Buyers had a choice of suspensions; torsion bar suspension for easier handling, or leaf springs for heavier load capacity.

Safety features included a collapsible steering column, fuel tank inside the cab, and optional anti-skid system.

History of the IHC Scout

Buyers could order a Scout II with either the Traveltop (full metal top), as a Roadster (half-cab), or with a soft canvas top.


Emissions Concerns

Starting in the late 1960's, U.S. automotive emission standards were becoming more strict. This put International in a bind - the current Scout engines wouldn't pass upcoming emission requirements, and sales weren't high enough to justify designing a new engine.

The solution was to purchase existing motors from another company.

Both the 232ci and 258ci six-cylinder engines were sourced from American Motors Corporation. These were the same engines used in Jeeps and AMC cars of the same era.

Scout II Engine Choices (1971-1980)

Transmission choices were automatic, three-speed manual or four-speed manual. In 1974, Dana 44 axles, power steering, and power disc brakes became standard.

In 1976, the Scout II became available with diesel-power. Aside from providing additional off-road and pulling capacity, the SD-33 four-cylinder diesel returned 20 mpg in the city and up to 30 mpg on the highway. The SD-33 was replaced with a turbocharged version in 1980.

345 V8

Arguably the most popular Scout engine was the 345 V8, which produced about 150 horsepower and about 300 lb/ft of torque. Dual exhaust was either standard or optional on V8 equipped models until the advent of the catalytic converter in 1979.


Scout Traveler and Scout Terra

In comparison to the Scout II's 100-inch wheelbase, the Traveler and Terra rode on a longer 118-inch wheelbase. Offered though model years 1976 through 1980, the Traveler and Terra also featured fiberglass tops.

1976 Bicentennial Scout

Nearly every American Automaker offered a special edition for the U.S. Bicentennial, and International Harvester was no exception.

History of the IHC Scout

Two special Scout models were offered; the 'Spirit of 76' edition featured a blue soft-top, blue interior, blue/red side applique, chrome wheels, and was available on the Scout II only. The 'Patriot' edition featured a hardtop, same blue/red side applique, and could be added to the Scout II, Terra, or Traveler models.



Scout II's were manufactured from mid year 1971 to October 21, 1980. In all, nearly 300,000 Scout II's were produced.

History of the IHC Scout

All Scouts and Scout II's were produced in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The basic sheet metal remained the same throughout it's production.


Baja 500 Winner

The Baja 1000 is one of the most challenging of all off-road competitions. In November 1977, Jerry Boone of Parker, Arizona, finished first among 4x4 production vehicles. His Scout crossed the finish line nearly two hours ahead of the closest competitor, a Jeep CJ7.


Articles of Interest:

Kaiser Jeep History
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