Unless you’ve been under the hood of a ’69 Chevelle for the past 10 years, you know that restoration vehicles tastes have changed. Older ford Broncos, Chevy Blazers, and early sport utes like the International Harvester Scout are now the coolest projects. The hottest of these early off-road tall wagons are, of course, the ones with removable roofs. Much like the 1978 Scout my friend Brian just took home. Brian is a mechanic who owns his own VW business. That sure helps if you are going to get elbows deep in an engine bay that is now thirty or forty years old. Brian’s wife Kristine bought the Scout for him to celebrate his turning 50. She’s a keeper.
When I dropped by to photograph and learn more about the Scout, Brian’s daughter Sarah (aka Yaya to brother Sam) wanted badly to be part of the discussion. She insisted “Daddy show him the thing the man talked about.” She was referring to the battery, which needed jumping when she and her dad went to pick up the Scout. She pointed directly at it and said “Right there.” Without a doubt, Brian will have a helper in the shop in a few years.
This ‘78 Scout was built in October 1977 by Chicago’s International Harvester with a V8, 340 CID engine and the 4WD which everyone wants. It came complete with locking front hubs (still working!), and an automatic transmission. Looking under the hood, I pointed at a huge compressor mounted up high on the engine and asked Brian what it was. He told me it was a dealer installed AC unit which takes about 12 hp to run. That is the most notable option besides the removable fiberglass top.
The idea is for the car to become a Maine beach vehicle for the family. Brian plans to remove the top and add a roll cage and some cargo netting “to keep the kids from falling out.” He also envisions re-mounting the rear seats laterally in the car so the kids and others can site facing each other in back. Brian’s wife asked for it to be orange, and Yaya wants yellow flames. Brian already has a Coast Guard life-ring he will mount to the back of the Scout. The plan is coming together.
Luckily, the Scout was a California car. The solid frame, relative lack of rust, and Dead Head and UCSC stickers attest to this fact. The Scout runs, but needs work from top to bottom before it will be hauling the kids, floaties and a hibachi out onto the sand. However, Brian is more than capable and with Sarah so psyched, how can this project not have a bright future? We hope to have a followup story in a year or so to share.