Look back on the special models and generations of the International Harvester Scout, the vehicle that paved the way for future off-roading SUVs.  

A Vehicle Ahead of Its Time 

scout_motors on Instagram
scout_motors on Instagram

A lot of companies owe a ‘thank you’ to the International Harvester Scout. The two-door, four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle was a precursor to many of today’s SUVs. Before every modern SUV had an off-road-capable trim level, International Harvester was developing the Scout to fill a void in the marketplace. The second-generation Jeep, dubbed the “CJ” or Civilian Jeep in 1945, provided an off-roading experience, but it had no competition. That’s where International Harvester saw an opening.

After starting in 1907 and building a strong reputation for putting out quality agricultural equipment, commercial vehicles, trucks, and even household equipment, International Harvester designers used the Scout to expand into new territory. The Scout only lasted for 20 years, but it was an important 20 years with long-lasting effects. Learn about the start, the success, and the impact of the innovative International Harvester Scout in this through-the-years look at the SUV.

The Scout (1961-1970) 

1961 Scout 80
1961 Scout 80
  • The Scout was just an idea in 1958, but by 1960 the 1961 International Harvester Scout, or Scout 80, became a reality. The entire duration of development time was just 24 months.
  • Unique features of the Scout 80 set it apart from the Jeep. Those features included a fold-down windshield, vacuum windshield wipers, and removable sliding side windows, though the sliding windows were discontinued starting with the 1962 Scout models. A removable hardtop turned the SUV into an open-air vehicle.
  • A 152 cu.-in. inline-four engine was standard on the 1961 Scout 80. It produced 93 horsepower and 137 lb.-ft. of torque.
  • 4WD versions of the Scout were priced at $2,128.84. Two-wheel drive Scouts had a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,771.
Scout Red Carpet Series - wisconsinhistory.org
Scout Red Carpet Series - wisconsinhistory.org
  • After the immediate success of the Scout, International got more creative, offering more and more body styles, including the Campermobile. With a camper permanently mounted to the back end of the vehicle, the camper version of the Scout 80 had a large, swinging rear door.
  • Along with a more basic version of the Campermobile, a deluxe unit could be purchased. It included a stand-up galley, a retractable chemical toilet, and a dinette set. Though a unique idea, the demand for this kind of Scout 80 wasn’t there. The production numbers for the Campermobile were limited.
  • A “Red Carpet” package was introduced to celebrate the 100,000th Scout that was manufactured and sold in July 1964. It came with a red interior, white exterior, a full-length headliner, and silver badging that read “Custom.” 3,400 of the Red Carpet models were produced.
  • The International Harvester Scout 800, replacing the Scout 80, was introduced as a 1965 model, the same year the Ford Bronco debuted. It included updates like bucket seats, a redesigned dashboard, an updated heating system, optional rear seats, and an optional, more powerful engine.
1968 International Scout - carsforsale.com
1968 International Scout - carsforsale.com
  • The 1966 Harvester Scout could be had with a 196 cu.-in. inline-four or the 232 cu.-in. inline-six. The 1967 Harvester Scout 800 added another option: a 266 cu.-in. V8 engine.
  • A 93-horsepower 152 cu.-in. inline-four Comanche engine became the base engine while a turbocharged version (making 111 horsepower) was also offered.
  • The fold-down windshield was still offered throughout the first generation of the Scout, well into the late 1960s, but fewer and fewer people were ordering Scouts with that feature.
  • The next International Harvester Scout was the 1969 Scout 800A. This version came with new front-end styling that divided the grille into three parts: the center grille and two headlights on either side.
1968 International Scout 266ci V8 - carsforsale.com
1968 International Scout 266ci V8 - carsforsale.com
  • New engine options were also offered on the Scout 800A: a 196 cu.-in. inline-six, a 232 cu.-in. inline-six, a 266 cu.-in. V8, and a 304 cu.-in. V8.
  • The 800A was available as a Sportop, with a SR-2 package, or as an Aristocrat. The Sportop had a fiberglass top and a slanted rear roof, the SR-2 package painted the Scout flame red and put Goodyear H70-15 Polyglas white-letter tires on all four wheels, and the Aristocrat came with a stainless-steel roof rack, two-tone paint, and rally wheels.
  • Following the 800A was the 1970 Scout 800B. It utilized chrome headlight bezels instead of matte black, but otherwise, it was mostly the same as the 800A.

The Scout II (1971-1980) 

1977 International Scout II - carsforsale.com
1977 International Scout II - carsforsale.com
  • The 1971 Scout II launched the second generation of the International Harvester Scout. The base was priced at $3,608.
  • Some updates on the 1971 Scout II included chrome trim and updated disc and power brakes. The 1973 Scout II was given a grille with 14 vertical bars. The previous models only had three horizontal bars between the headlights.
  • Starting with the 1976 Scout II were the Terra and the Traveler iterations. They each had fiberglass tops, but the Terra was a half-cab and the Traveler was a full top with a liftgate that resembled a hatchback. The Terra and Traveler were available until the end of the Scout II’s production run.
  • The Traveler also had an extra 18” in the wheelbase, giving it the size boost needed to carry some heavy cargo.
Spirit of ‘76 Scout - GR Auto Gallery on Youtube
Spirit of ‘76 Scout - GR Auto Gallery on Youtube
  • To celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial, International Harvester produced a special Spirit of ‘76 version of the Scout. It was white with red and blue stripes on the sides of the vehicle. The soft top and interior were also blue. The Spirit of ‘76 was only available on Scout II models.
  • The Patriot edition was a hardtop version but otherwise, it was virtually the same. The Patriot could be added to the Scout II, the Terra, or the Traveler, though.
  • A SSII was introduced for the 1977 models. It wasn’t specified at the time, but it was later assumed that the “SS” stood for Super Scout. This version came with removable fabric doors, a soft top, and a roll bar. The Super Scout was meant to directly compete with the Jeep CJ.
  • Proving its ability, the Scout finished first in the 1977 Baja 1000 within the 4×4 production vehicles category.
1979 International Scout II - carsforsale.com
1979 International Scout II - carsforsale.com
  • International Harvester continued offering more and more special editions of the Scout in the late 1970s. The Midas Edition, for example, was released in 1977 and featured shag carpet, swivel seats, sunroofs, and fender flares.
  • The Selective Edition was offered for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It featured gold accents, gold-spoke wheels, and customized seats.
  • A Shawnee Scout special package was made available for the 1979 Harvester Scout. This trim type and special feature package was produced by Hurst Performance. Paying homage to the Shawnee Tribe in Oklahoma, the Shawnee package added feather decals on the outside of the Scout. It also came with a black top, a bed cover, and a Hurst shifter. Just three Shawnee Scouts were produced.
  • Going into 1980, International Harvester was experimenting with minivans, station wagons, and dune buggies, all based on the Scout.
Last production Scout II - scout_motors on Instagram
Last production Scout II - scout_motors on Instagram
  • A strike at International Harvester plants in 1979 and 1980 hit the company hard and put all those plans on hold. The Scout wasn’t selling as well as it had before, so, facing financial problems, the company chose to focus on commercial vehicles instead of passenger vehicles.
  • The last International Harvester Scout, a 1980 model, was manufactured on October 21, 1980.

The Scout EV (2022-Current) 

Scout SUV - scoutmotors.com
Scout SUV - scoutmotors.com
  • After a few business divestments and transactions, Volkswagen ended up purchasing the remaining shares of Navistar in 2020. Navistar is the company that International Harvester was reorganized into.
  • With the Scout under the Volkswagen umbrella, Scout Motors was established in 2022. Along with introducing the world to Scout Motors, Volkswagen announced the idea of a brand-new Scout in the form of an electric vehicle (EV).
  • In 2023, Scout Motors gave more details about the new Scout EV with a research and development facility being built in Novi, Michigan. It also plans to build a $2 billion factory in Blythewood, South Carolina. The company intends to employ up to 4,000 people there, putting out a maximum of 200,000 Scout EVs a year.
1976 International Harvester Scout Terra - scout_motors on Instagram
1976 International Harvester Scout Terra - scout_motors on Instagram
  • After a restomod, an original 1976 International Harvester Scout Terra was entered into the 2023 NORRA Mexican 1000. It finished in 108th place out of 137 competitors.
  • Volkswagen’s Scout revival could gain steam in the summer of 2024, when we’re expected to get a first look at the progress on the new electric models. So far, we know they are working on a smaller off-roading Scout SUV and a pickup truck. Both are scheduled to launch in late 2026.

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Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson earned his journalism degree from South Dakota State University. No stranger to newsgathering and reporting, Jesse spent 13 years in TV news. 10 of those years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR. A highlight of his time there was being able to take a lap around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His interest in vehicles, starting with Matchbox cars, a Big Wheel, and the Transformers, evolved into taking photos of motocross events. Now, he puts his research skills to use on car culture, reviews, and comparisons.

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