Cars We Remember: Remembering International Harvester, IH Scout and people mover Travelall
Q: Greg, I enjoy your column and want to know about the International Harvester (IH) Scout. I feel the IH Scout was ahead of its time and was a popular Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) back in the 1960s. They also produced pickup trucks and wagons, too. How about your opinion and memories of these IH vehicles?
— Richard B., Massachusetts
A: Richard, when I was selling newspaper advertising I used to stop weekly at a dealer called Brosius Motors in Dornsife, Pennsylvania. Brosius was an International Harvester IH Scout dealer and I have many fond memories of the business and IH vehicles. Brosius also sold the IH brand tractors and equipment.
Produced from 1960 to 1981, the Scout was a competitor of the early Jeep CJ models. The Scout and second-generation Scout II were built in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and came in a variety of models that featured removable hard tops, full-length roof, half-cab pickups and removable soft tops.
I agree the Scouts were ahead of the curve when it comes to SUVs, the latter a term that didn’t become popular until early 1990s. Available in either 2x4 or 4x4 in pickup and “SUV” design, the Scout was popular in many circles although the Jeep sales outnumbered IH models on a yearly basis.
As for some history, International Harvester started building trucks and pickups in 1907, way before any Scout model appeared on a designer’s drawing board. Then in 1953, IH introduced a unique truck-chassis people mover called the Travelall, which competed with the Jeep Station Wagon models of the same era. By 1966, the full-size Travelall not only competed with the re-named Jeep Wagoneer, it looked a bit similar, too.
Thanks to success with the Travelall and its pickup trucks, IH decided the time was right to better compete with the Jeep CJ. In late 1960, the 1961 Scout 80 arrived at dealerships to much fanfare and marketing publicity. It began a nice run of popular Scout vehicles that could off-road side-by-side with the Jeep CJ. A more modern Scout II arrived in 1971 and remained pretty much the same sheet metal wise right up to when IH stopped production of the Scout in late 1980. Overall, from 1960 to 1980, a total of 532,674 Scouts were sold.
Therefore, I’ll give the IH and the many Jeep products of the era a double pat on the back as the forerunners of today’s SUVs and enhanced people mover truck style wagons that sell more than cars nowadays.
Overall, my fond memories of the IH Travelalls and all those Scout and Scout II models lingers on, as I was surprised to learn in 1980 that the Scouts had been discontinued.
As for collectability, the IH Scout is now a big attraction at car and truck shows, mainly because not many are left of the half-million that were produced. Currently, a 1966 Scout 800 soft-top 4x4 is listed at a low of $7,600 to a high of $38,400 in perfect condition. Not bad for a 4x4 that cost $2,962 back then.
Sadly, the Scouts I remember suffered from the same rust problems as did the Ford Bronco that first appeared in 1966. Many were junked for this reason, but luckily, there are some really nice survivors. When you see a Scout or Travelall at a car show you are looking at one rare piece of history.
Following numerous business consolidations, IH reorganized on Feb. 20, 1986, as Navistar International Corporation. Today, the IH logo is still alive as part of the Case IH brand. Additionally, Navistar uses the “International” name in its big tractor trailer truck lines, most notable the Lone Star big rig. This International is very popular as many NASCAR teams utilize the Lone Star to deliver its race cars to speedways coast to coast.
Thanks much for your letter and bringing back memories of the IH Scout and Travelall.
— Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and GateHouse Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.