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by Jay Traugott
This is what an old school SUV is all about: simplicity, four-wheel-drive and a V8 engine. And yes, it'll annoy the hell out of Prius drivers. That's always fun.
For vehicles like the International Harvester Scout, don't expect to see them driven by the following groups of people: soccer moms, Green Peace activists, Toyota Prius activists and Hollywood types (whether they're famous or not). For anybody who's familiar with it, the Scout clearly isn't for them. Sadly though, the chances of a carmaker making something as cool as the IH Scout is today are about as good as Mitt Romney personally handing over his tax returns to The Huffington Post.
It's just not going to happen but back in the day when children respected their elders and politicians did a better job of pretending to be noble, International Harvester was busy churning out some truly great full-size SUVs as well as farm equipment and other commercial vehicles. Sadly, the era of the basic and true SUV is mostly done for, having been replaced by the more suburban friendly crossover but there are still some holdout automakers making great but no longer Spartan 4x4s. But none come quite as close to being as cool as the International Harvester Scout which first premiered in 1960 as a direct competitor to the old post-war Jeeps.
The original Scout, dubbed the 80, was very basic but that's exactly what buyers wanted it to be. It featured removable sliding windows and some even had a fold-down windshield. Power came from 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a manual transmission. With the basic formula in place, the 80's successor, the 800, was launched in 1965 and featured numerous improvements in both design and rider comfort. Bucket seats, upgraded instrumentation and dashboard layout were highlights along with an optional rear seat. The engine lineup also expanded to include a more powerful turbo four-cylinder as well six-cylinder and V8 options.
The Scout 800 continued to receive regular upgrades for the next several years with new features focusing on creature comforts. Despite high-option packages like the "Champagne Series", the Scout was still pretty bare bones but that's what the market dictated. Today's SUVs, just for comparison's sake, are packed with luxury features like full leather upholstery, premium sound systems and now infotainment systems with digital screens in the seatbacks. What has remained steadfast, however, are available V8 engines. The improved Scout 800A, for example, could be had with a solid 304 cu in 5.0-liter V8 for those who needed a true workhorse.
All full-size SUVs today still offer a V8 option but who knows for how much longer that'll last. Beginning in 1971 until production fully ended in 1980, the Scout II, replacing the older model with new bits like a redesigned front grille, chrome trim and more modern disc and power brakes. Later versions, called Terra and Traveler, included optional removable fiberglass tops. The Super Scout II, revealed in '77, was basically a stripped-down version with a soft top made for competition with the Jeep CJ-7. Sadly, the decision was made by the company to end all commercial vehicle production in 1980 in order to focus entirely on its commercial truck business as well as school buses.
Fortunately, the brand has a loyal following and there are plenty of IH Scouts still on the road today. One of those is this 1972 Scout II that's up for sale on eBay. Power comes from a 345 cu in 5.7-liter V8 mated to an automatic slushbox. Despite having nearly 85,000 miles on the clock, this particular example looks to be in excellent overall condition. The chrome trim and fiberglass top look good too. The highest bid so far is $6,600 but the reserve hadn't been met as of this writing but judging by similar models for sale we can't imagine this going for anything higher than $10k. Aforementioned activists need not apply.