Someone has Scout-ed out this treasure
If you'll pardon the pun, this hella unique International Scout has popped up on Craigslist.
It's me Drivetribe's reporter on all things classic, carburetted, and coveted (Ed; that's not your job, you don't even work here) and this evening I have a proper gem for you! Found on Craigslist it is a matching numbers 1971 International Scout 800B Comanche Edition.
For those of you who don't have the same concerningly encyclopaedic catalogue of rubbish knowledge on obscure cars that I do, let's break down what we've got here.
The International Harvester Scout was an SUV, first launched in 1960, predating Ford's Bronco by half a decade. It sprung about when a man called Ted Ornas noticed that the Willies Jeep was selling well as a fun off-roader, but it was a bit basic, so in the oh so adored manner of car design, a late-night sketch was made on a scrap of paper, and that became the bare bones for the car's design. Easy to produce, fit and replace panels formed entirely of plastics made by Goodyear, who'd learned a lot through the war about mass producing plastics. However the plastic panels proved to be expensive, and so steel was opted for and the design was moved into production in late 1959, with cars hitting the road in 1960.
Scout 80 w. TravelTop
The first out of the gate was the Scout 80. Still fairly basic in its design, it could be seen more as a rival to the early Land Rover, Land Cruiser and Suzuki SJ. It was introduced as a commercial pickup truck, with a variety of lift-off roofs available, so you could opt for a standard cab pick up, a fully enclosed cab, aka the travel top, or you could pull it off completely, drop the windscreen, lift out the windows, and have enjoyed the full flies in your face, wind in your hair experience. At the top of the windscreen, you got vacuum-operated wipers, on the grille an IH logo, and behind the grille a 2.5-litre petrol four-cylinder. Gutsy. Nothing much changed for the Scout until about midway through 1962 when they decided to just give it normal windows.
Soon enough the 100,000th Scout rolled off of the production line and to celebrate International rolled out the Red Carpet. Literally. They gave us a trim-line called The Red Carpet. And yes, the drapes match. 3000 of these crimson curiosities were created, they came with a red interior with a white exterior, full-length headliner, full floor mats, and a special medallion that was silver-plated to the door which read "Custom". The Red Carpet was supposedly a cut above the standard Scout and was a brilliant marketing tool to garner the attention of those with some extra dollar and those with ovaries. This was after all the 1960s and the world of car marketing was rife with sexism (Hurst would come along with a "his and hers" shifter, but that's a story for another day).
TikTok, eat your heart out!
Not content with selling their wares to weekend four-wheelers, IH spotted another growing market, the camper conversion. While it's all the rage on TikTok now, the Scout again lead the market. Before Ford even had the Bronco out in showrooms, International had put out a camper version of the Scout by 1963. You got a raised roof, practically doubled so you could stand upright in it, tented sleeping bunks folded out of the sides, and the rear of the body was lengthened. The tailgate was changed from a dropdown unit to a large ambulance style swing door, the sort that is horrendously inconvenient if you reverse park in a supermarket. Options on the camper top include just having it as a bare shell, so you can trick out your accommodation as you wish, or a deluxe which included a dinette, a stand-up galley, yes a full-height kitchen in the back of a jeep, but wait, there's more, you could also have a screened off chemical lav that could be retracted into the wall. This cost $1850 to be fitted. Unsurprisingly, these didn't sell in huge numbers, but the option was there.
What a fine looking machine.
And then we get closer to the subject of this week's missive. The 65.5 Scout. Built during the first half of 1965 these Scout 80s were effectively a parts run-out model of the outgoing 80 model and the incoming 800 model. According to their VIN tag, these models are 800s, but the parts fitted had been leftover items from the 80. Notable parts were the bonnet, which featured the tie-down hoop for the windscreen, despite the new windscreens being a fixed unit, not a folding one as seen on the 80. The result, a pointless little fixture. These also ran the older 80 grilles with a gold plated IH emblem on a black backing. The main thing that lead to the 80/800 hybrids standing out was the axles. The 80 used a Dana 27 whereas the new 800 used the far tougher Dana 44, and the hybrids used the 27s, which would soon become redundant and the 44s standard on all Scouts from '68 as all the models became four-wheel-drive as stock.
One of the half and half Scouts.
And that gets us to about halfway through 1965, when the 800 was launched. Over the 80, the 800 now featured sporty bucket seats, better instruments, a better dashboard, optional rear seats as this was now an SUV and needed to cater to a more civilian market, than just as a fun-loving two-seater throw about. Power was up too, the 152 CUI four-pot remained but was now joined by an enlarged 196 CUI four-cylinder (from 1966), that's 3.2 litres in Roman Catholic or if you were feeling hella sporty you could tick the box for a 232 straight-six or 3.8 litres. If you liked to go bwaaaaaaah-stu-stu-stu-stu on your way to the beach, you could now do that from the factory with the 152-T, a turbocharged version of the 152 Comanche engine. Although this was short-lived as an engine option as while it made as much power as the bigger 196, a staggering 111 bhp, it drank more fuel and was dropped from the engine line up in early 1968. 1967 finally saw a V8 added to the options list, a 266 CUI, 4.4-litre unit.
On the outside, changes were limited, with the IH badge now relocated to the bonnet, and the grille being a plainer style, featuring INTERNATIONAL, writ large across it. And there was the new button type door handle. That was pretty much it. If it ain't broke... and so on.
If you've ever wondered what on earth prompted Land Rover to make the Evoque Cabriolet, it was probably the latest change to make it to the Scout line, the Sport Top. You could have either a fibreglass hardtop or a folding ragtop, from 1966. Apeing the Red Carpet model before it, the 800 was blessed with a Champagne Series trim line, giving the owner fancy carpet and the like.
Why do I really like this?
The 800A was basically an 800 2.0, better this that and the other, a quieter transfer case and more strangely named trim lines, the Aristocrat and the SR-2, nothing to do with Sunderland I'm told. And yet another engine added to the options list, a 304 CUI, 5.0 V8. The inline-six was dropped partway through 1969.
And then there's the 800B. Available for less than 8 months, from August 1970 until March 1971 it saw the addition of chrome headlight bezels over the matte black units, and that was largely it. Apart from the Comanche package. Weirdly named after their smallest engine, the Comanche was the top-spec Scout you could order, including special paint and decals, chrome trim elements, sliding travel-top windows, and other high dollar options such as roof racks, chrome wheels, and upgraded interior pieces. The Comanche spec really was as good as the first generation Scout got. Unless you lived in the frozen north in which case the Sno-Star package was, which came only with the dropped straight-six oddly enough and also gave you snowplough preparation. No word on a "Mr Plow" jacket though...
Call Mr. Plow, That's my name, That name again is Mr. Plow.
But that's it. That is what we have before us, a special edition of the forerunner to the Bronco, featuring a trim line bearing the name of it's cheapest engine option. A bit of a weird creation, but this was after all the early 70s. This is a bit like Mercedes launching a top of the range G-Wagen and calling it the K9K (the 1.5 diesel 4-pot that you get in the B-Class, actually made by Renault). But still, limited numbers and a rise in the market value of these old trucks has seen this Scout earn a fairly credible name for itself. Hence why I've just dedicated an afternoon to writing nearly 1500 words on it.
Anyhow, this model was for sale, proving that these oddballs are still out there and like I'd mentioned it has all the Comanche 'pack' features, plus the rarely optioned headliner and the owner still has the original factory line setting ticket. It also has twin fuel tanks, which is just cool no matter how you look at it. So, would you buy this slice of obscure Americana? Or if you wanted a 60s/70s SUV would you just go mainstream and buy a Bronco?