Category: Scout

A modern design didn’t save the 1969-1975 International Pickups from plummeting sales – Pat Foster @Hemmings

A modern design didn’t save the 1969-1975 International Pickups from plummeting sales – Pat Foster @Hemmings

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For 1969, there was big news in America’s truck market: the announcement by the International Harvester Company of a completely redesigned lineup of light-duty trucks, its first all-new pickups since 1957.

The new trucks were very attractive. Called the “D” series, its styling was clean, contemporary, and ruggedly handsome. Bodywork was straight and uncluttered, completely abandoning the bulbous styling of previous models. Roofs and hoods were flatter and fenders crisper, providing a family resemblance to the smaller Scout line, and body sculpting was much more subtle. A rectangular grille with a similarly shaped “International” nameplate floating inside was clean and simple, and encompassed the single headlamps. Larger window areas lent a bright, airy feel to the cabin. Taken as a whole, the new trucks had a look of modern, clean efficiency. International dubbed it the “Now” look, and it was the work of International Harvester styling director Ted Ornas and his small staff of designers

The D series being all-new inside and out meant the company could now integrate the optional air conditioning system into the instrument panel for a much neater look, while also substantially upgrading interior trim. Seats were more comfortable and instrument panels more car-like. Management belatedly realized that the light-truck market had evolved over the previous few years and the average light-truck buyer wasn’t necessarily a commercial user; he or she often was an ordinary suburbanite using a truck as a second, or even first, car. These buyers wanted a more car-like interior along with the comforts and conveniences they enjoyed in their personal vehicles. Automatic transmissions, power steering, power brakes, and AM/FM radios had become the rule rather than the exception. Even commercial buyers were looking for more comfort features, since they often spent their entire day in their trucks.

Chassis frames in 115-, 119-, 131-, 149-, and 164-inch wheelbases were all new, with improved shock absorbers and suspensions, and modern cross-flow radiators to allow a lower hood line. The popular Bonus Load bodies (i.e., straight side versus fender side) featured double-wall construction to keep shifting-cargo dings from showing on the outside. In addition to the regular two-door cabs, a Travelette four-door pickup was offered, as it had been since 1961. Available in 149- and 164-inch wheelbases, it was sort of like a Travelall with a pickup bed.

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Just before the axe fell, International wanted to try Scout-based coupes, minivans, campers, and luxury trucks – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings

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For International Harvester enthusiasts, the 1979 Supplemental Scout Vehicle represents what might have been, a missed opportunity to grab hold of the sudden surge in small SUV popularity in the 1980s. Indeed, as two International truck historians will detail in an upcoming presentation for the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, the SSV was just one of many proposals for new products to fit into new market segments that IH had on the drawing board at the time.”This was a company struggling for resources,” said John Glancy, one of the authors of the International Scout Encyclopedia.

“And they just weren’t making enough money on plain-jane Scouts.”In many ways, it was the Scout that advanced the small four-wheel-drive vehicle market when it debuted in 1961, not the later Ford Bronco. It offered several easily changed body styles on one platform and greater attention to creature comforts, even if it would still rattle grandpa’s dentures out of his gob both on and off road.

But International Harvester simply couldn’t put the same kind of resources behind the Scout that its competitors could put behind their four-wheel-drive vehicles.Medium- and heavy-duty trucks were International’s mainstay, according to Glancy, and the company still had divisions dedicated to agricultural equipment, to construction equipment, even to Cub Cadet lawn mowers. (It even had at least a couple of opportunities to explore the taxicab business after a proposal to merge with Checker in the Sixties and a proposal to take part in the Museum of Modern Art’s taxicab of the future exhibit.) Light trucks, on the other hand, were becoming more of a bother to the company.

It discontinued its Travelalls and pickups in 1975 in response to the 1973 oil crisis, had trouble meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy standards set to take effect in 1979, and faced a second oil crisis that year. Even worse, after the United Auto Workers began a company-wide strike against International in November 1979, then-CEO Archie McCardell tried to break the union, which caused the strike to extend all the way into April of the next year.

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Car of the Week: 1973 International Scout II – bearnest @OldCarsWeekly

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1973 International Scout II is as sweet as the memories it rekindles

One of Joe Kahn’s earliest memories of his late grandfather, Joe March, was riding on Grandpa Joe’s lap while he drove. “I was probably 3 or 4 years old at the time,” recalls Kahn with a chuckle. “He’d let me steer and he’d work the pedals and we’d be driving around the streets of Chicago — that’s where he lived. I can still remember it.”

And it wasn’t just the trips that Kahn remembers fondly. It’s also the vehicle that they were taken in — an International Scout. “I think my grandfather only had it for probably a couple years, then he got rid of it,” Kahn says.

But the truck made a lasting impression on Kahn, a Lindenhurst, Ill., resident. The happy memories led him to venture to a collector car auction three years ago in hopes of landing his own Scout, and he wound up coming home with a glorious baby blue 1973 Scout II Traveltop that fills his garage with nostalgia and happy vibes.

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