Volkswagen confirmed to unlikely rumor when announced plans to dust off the long-dormant Scout dog tag and use it in a couple of electric SUVs. By “long dormant,” I mean the last International-Harvester Scout came when Blondie’s “Call Me” was at the top of the charts and before Apple went public. And yet, the Scout remains a well-respected off-roader in the enthusiast community.
Here’s a look at what wasn’t mummified in a Volkswagen boardroom.
the original explorer
Let’s dispel a myth before it becomes fact on social media: Scout has never been a brand. It was a dog tag, much like Golf either mustang, and the brand that marketed it was International-Harvester. While the company was best known for building farm equipment, it made an incredible selection of products, including freezers, lawn mowers, pickup trucks, and trucks. His pickups were never as popular as the Big Three, but they earned a reputation for being tough and innovative; In particular, International-Harvester is credited for making the first four-door crew cab pickup, which it called the Travelette and launched in 1957. It is with this experience that the company jumped into the SUV segment.
Released in 1961, the original Scout was a forward-thinking off-roader that was arguably the all terrain CJ’s first direct rival. Sure, he toyota land cruiser landed on our shores in 1958 but just an example it was sold that year and was still a relatively obscure truck when the Scout started hitting showrooms. Like the CJ, the Scout was envisioned as a simple go-anywhere truck that could be put to work on a farm or taken on a long fishing trip on Memorial Day. International-Harvester offered the first generation model (called the “80” internally) with several removable top options, including a vinyl cab top, steel cab top, and steel travel top. The first two turned the Scout into a pickup truck, while the last one turned it into a wagon. Regardless, the Scout came standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (which was essentially a V8 cut in half) rated at 93 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive came standard and four-wheel drive was optional.
With excellent off-road capability, a practical design and a friendly face, the Scout quickly won over buyers. Pricing in 1961 started at $1,771 for rear-wheel drive and $2,139 for four-wheel drive, numbers that today would be about $17,200 and $20,700, respectively. By comparison, Jeep buyers that year could drive home in a CJ-3B for $1,890 or a CJ-5 for $1,980 (about $18,300 and $19,200, respectively). Both came standard with four-wheel drive, but its 2.2-liter four-cylinder Hurricane engine made 70 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque.
International-Harvester made numerous updates to the Scout during the 1960s to keep it competitive. Drop-down windows became available as an option in 1962, while 1965 brought an internally upgraded model called the 800 (shown above) and featured a refreshed front end and a longer list of standard features, among other changes. Buyers who wanted more power got their wish in 1966, when the option list grew with the addition of a V8 and, believe it or not, a turbocharged (!) Comanche 2.2-liter four-cylinder with 111 horsepower.
These updates carried the original Scout and its derivatives through the 1971 model year, but much had changed in the automotive landscape since its introduction. SUVs were no longer an eccentric niche for farmers and hunters. Sales of the Jeep CJ remained strong, the Toyota Land Cruiser had established a secure foothold in the United States, and the ford bronco and the chevrolet jacket they were stealing the spotlight.
The explorer II
Released as a 1971 model and briefly sold alongside its predecessor, the second-generation Scout was aptly named the Scout II. It shared little more than a name with the original model: it was larger, less rudimentary, and available with larger V8 engines. Shown above, it is this version of the Scout that the sketch published by Volkswagen in May 2022 seems to allude to; the twist at the waist is unmistakable.
At launch, the Scout II came standard with a 3.2-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 93 horsepower and 143 pound-feet of torque and rear-wheel drive. Buyers can order a V8 (or straight-six) and four-wheel drive (with manual or automatic locking front hubs) at extra cost.
While the reborn Scout will have four doors, the Scout II was only available as a two door. Drivers who wanted a four-door International-Harvester were shown the huge Travelall, which was in direct competition with the Suburban Chevy. However, several offshoots of Scout II were made during the 1970s. 1976 brought the Scout II Terra, a truck launched largely to fill the void left by the company’s more work-oriented trucks that were phased out after 1975, and the Scout II Traveler, a roomier model that partially replaced the Travelall. Across the pond, Swiss firm Monteverdi even turned the Scout II into an incredibly luxurious SUV called safarithough that’s a different story for a different time.
New variants and option packages kept buyers interested in the Scout, but all was not well under the surface and several factors contributed to its demise. One is that demand for SUVs fell in the late 1970s. If you were, say, oldsmobile, it’s okay; could you get going cutlass production. International-Harvester did not have this option because the Scout II was their only entry into the US passenger car segment. Another is that a united auto workers The strike that lasted from November 1979 to April 1980 cost International-Harvester an enormous amount of money. Despite these hiccups, the company made one last round of updates to the Scout II for 1980. The two-wheel drive variant was retired, rectangular headlights appeared, rust protection was improved, and a turbodiesel engine from Nissan origin. .
Sales of the Scout II ended after the 1980 model year, and International-Harvester abandoned the light truck segment to devote all of its attention to its heavy duty models. He was short on money but not short on ideas: he tentatively planned to release a Scout III for the 1982 model year, experimented with fiberglass bodies, and even evaluated expanding its range with a buggy and a vanamong other body styles.
The other Scout of the Volkswagen Group
While the Scout nameplate has never appeared on a mass-produced Volkswagen model, we’ve seen it before on the Volkswagen Group’s portfolio. Czech Republic-based Škoda has used it to denote a beefier, four-wheel-drive version of the Octavia station wagon on and off since 2006. Scout is to Škoda what Alltrack and Allroad are to Volkswagen and Audi, respectively. Pictured above, the current-generation Octavia Scout sold in various global markets gains a slightly taller suspension system and a number of plastic cladding, among other features.