The International Harvester Scout: Jeep’s Most Unsuccessful Rival
Question: what do Scientologists, Mac users, and Jeep owners all have in common? Answer: each has been accused of being in a cult at one time or another.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. For many of us, our vehicles are far more than simply a way to get around. They’re expressions of our values and personalities. In a very real sense they’re us. This helps to explain why so many rugged, outdoorsy types have been drawn to the Jeep brand, ever since the first surplus military vehicles appeared on the American market in the late 1940s.
But for every Apple there’s a Linux. Other manufacturers began to set their sights on the emerging market for proto-SUVs. One of the best-known pretenders to Jeep’s throne was the Scout, built by famed agricultural firm International Harvester from 1961 to 1980.
The first model was the Scout 80, which was sold from 1960 to 1965. Like the Jeep, the first units had fold-down windshields. The early models also had vacuum wipers and an IH logo in the grille’s center. A 153 cubic inch 4-cylinder engine served as the standard power plant.
The spartan 80 gave way to the slightly more uptown 800, which was built from 1956 to 1969. It had comfort and design upgrades like bucket seats, heaters, and a wider choice of engines. 1969 saw the introduction of the 800A, with a heavier rear axle, followed by the 800B, which was only sold for a few months during 1971.
Throughout the 1970s, International Harvester repackaged the Scout countless times, in an attempt to compete successfully with the far more popular Jeep. But, in the end it was a lost cause, and 1980 was the last model year for the scrappy, but ultimately unsuccessful Scout. It’s just as well. In some fields of human endeavor, there’s only room for one king on the throne.