Volkswagen has confirmed an improbable rumor when it announced plans to dust off the long-dormant scout nameplate and use it in a pair of electric off-roaders. By “long-dormant” I mean the last International-Harvester Scout was created when Blondie’s “Call Me” was at the top of the charts and before Apple went public. And yet, Scout remains a highly respected off-roader in the enthusiastic community.
See here what was just unmummified in the Volkswagen boardroom.
The original scout
Let’s dispel a myth before it becomes a reality on social media: Scout has never been a brand. It was a nameplate, much like the Golf or Mustang, and the brand that marketed it was International-Harvester. The firm was best known for making agricultural equipment, with a stunning selection of products including freezers, lawn mowers, vans and trucks. Its pickups were never as popular as the Big Three, but they gained a reputation for being tough and innovative; International-Harvester is credited with creating the first four-door crew-cab pickup, which it named Travelette, and launched in 1957. With this experience the firm jumped into the SUV category.
Released for 1961, the original scout was a pioneering thoughtful off-roader who was arguably the first direct competitor to the Jeep CJ. Of course, the Toyota Land Cruiser landed on our coast in 1958 but sold only one example that year and was a relatively obscure truck when scouts began to arrive in showrooms. Like CJ, the scout was conceived as a simple, tract to go anywhere that could be worked on a farm or taken on a long Memorial Day fishing trip. International-Harvester offers first generation models (internally known as “80”) with a number of removable top options, including a vinyl cab top, a steel cab top and a steel travel top. The first two turned the scout into a pickup, while the latter turned it into a wagon. However, the Scout rated a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (which was originally a V8 cut in half) with 93 horsepower and 135 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive came standard, and four-wheel drive was optional.
With excellent off-road capabilities, a practical design and a friendly appearance, Scout quickly wins the minds of buyers. Prices started at 1 1,771 for rear-wheel drive and $ 2,139 for four-wheel drive in 1961, which today represents about $ 17,200 and $ 20,700, respectively. By comparison, Jeep buyers that year could drive home C 1,890 on the CJ-3B or $ 1,980 on the CJ-5 (about $ 18,300 and $ 19,200, respectively). Both came standard with four-wheel drive, but their 2.2-liter Hurricane four-cylinder engine was rated at 70 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque.
International-Harvester made many updates in the 1960s to keep scouts competitive. Roll-down windows became available as an alternative in 1962, when 1965 internally introduced an improved model called the 800 (shown above), and among other changes marked by a long-sighted front-end and a long list of standard features. Buyers who wanted more power granted their wish in 1966, when the list of options continued to grow with the addition of a V8, and believe it or not, a turbocharged (!) 2.2-liter four-cylinder Komanche rated at 111 horsepower.
These updates carry the original Scout and its derivatives through the 1971 model year, but much has changed in the automotive landscape since its unveiling. SUVs were no longer a strange niche for farmers and hunters. Jeep CJ sales were strong, Toyota Land Cruiser has established a safe foothold in the United States and Ford Bronco and Chevrolet Blazer are stealing the spotlight.
Released as a 1971 model, and briefly sold alongside its predecessor, the second generation Scout was aptly named Scout II. It shares a little more than a name with the original model: it is available with larger, less primitive and larger V8 engines. As shown above, it is this version of the Scout that apparently hints at the sketch published by Volkswagen in May 2022; The hole in the beltline is blurred.
At launch, the Scout II came standard with a 3.2-liter four-cylinder engine with 93 horsepower and 143 lb-ft of torque and rear-wheel drive. Buyers can order a V8 (or a straight-six) and four-wheel-drive (including manual or automatic locking front hub) at extra cost.
The reborn Scout will have four doors, Scout II was only available as a two door. Drivers who wanted a four-door international-harvester were shown the huge travel, which competed directly against the Chevrolet suburbs. Although several Scout IIs were off-shoot in the 1970s. The 1976 Scout II Terra was brought in, a pickup to fill the void left by the firm’s more functional trucks after 1975, and the Scout II Traveler, a Rumier model that was partially filled for travel. Across the pond, the Swiss firm Montverdi has even turned the Scout II into a stunning luxury SUV called the Safari, though it’s a different story for a different time.
The new variants and alternative packages made buyers interested in scouts but not everything was fine under the surface, and a number of factors contributed to its demise. One is that demand for SUVs declined in the late 1970s. If you were, say, oldmobile, that’s fine; You can crank cutlass production. International-Harvester did not have this option because it was the only entry into the passenger-car division of Scout II America. Another is that the United Auto Workers’ Strike, which lasted from November 1979 to April 1980, cost the international harvesters a lot of money. Despite these obstacles, the company made a final round of scout II updates for the 1980s. The two-wheel-drive variant was retired, rectangular headlights were introduced, rust-proofing was improved, and a Nissan-sourced turbodiesel engine was optional. .
The Scout II sale ended after the 1980 model year, and International-Harvester left the light-duty truck division to devote all its attention to its heavy-duty models. It was short of money but not less than conceivable: it planned to release a Scout III for the 1982 model year, tested it with fiberglass bodies and even evaluated it to expand its range with a bogie and a minivan among other body styles.
Other scouts from the Volkswagen Group
Although the Scout nameplate never appeared in the series-produced Volkswagen model, we have seen it before in the Volkswagen Group portfolio. Czech Republic-based Skoda has used it since 2006 to mean a more rigorous, four-wheel-drive version of the Octavia Wagon on and off. The Scout is োkoda, which is close to Voltwagen and Audi, Ultrac and Allroad, respectively. As shown above, the current generation Octavia Scout, sold in various global markets, gains a slightly longer suspension system and an array of plastic cladding, among other features.