Historic Car Brands
The roots of International Harvester run to the 1830s, when Virginia inventor Cyrus Hall McCormick perfected his version of a horse-drawn reaper, which he field-demonstrated in 1831 and for which he received a patent in 1834.
1906 IHC Torpedo Coupe Florio – Kev22
Together with his brother Leander J McCormick, he moved to Chicago in 1847 to be closer to the Midwestern grain fields and founded the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company.
In 1902, the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company and Deering Harvester Company, along with three smaller agricultural equipment firms merged to create the International Harvester Company. Banker J P Morgan provided the financing and the new company was valued at $150 million
Although best known for its eponymous agricultural and heavy truck products, IH made relatively successful lighter vehicles, competing directly against the Big Three. The most common were pickup trucks.
1911 International Auto Wagon – Stephen Foskett
IH made light trucks from 1907 to 1975, beginning with the Model A Auto Wagon that was sometimes called the ‘Auto Buggy’, powered by a horizontally opposed, air-cooled twin of around 15bhp (11 kW). This right-hand-drive model proved popular in rural areas, thanks to its high ground clearance.
The rear seat was convertible to a cargo bed and the Auto Wagon was renamed IHC Motor Truck in 1910, making it a forerunner to the modern pickup truck.
The brand was ‘IHC’ until 1914, when the ‘International’ name was first applied.
1954 International R110 Truck – Vanfullin
Heavy equipment dominated the IH product lineup until the 1940s, when International released the K and KB series trucks that were more basic than their competitors.
The L Series followed in 1949, to be replaced by the R Series in 1952, followed by the S line – a name re-used later for IH’s larger trucks – in 1955.
1956 international pickup – Trekphiler
In 1957, to celebrate IH’s golden anniversary, the ’S’ was replaced by the new A line, with ‘A’ standing for ‘anniversary’. With modifications, this design continued in production until replaced by the 1100D in late 1969.
1965 International D1000 Travelette 4×4 – Accord14
The final light line truck was made on May 5, 1975.
International Scout history
One of the industry’s first SUVs, the boxy Scout became one of International Harvester’s most popular consumer vehicles of all time, during its 20-year production life.
1961 Scout pickup with removable hardtop – Dutchtower
The Scout was the smallest Inter’ made in the post-WWII era, slotting below pickup models that competed with the Big Three’s pickup trucks. The Scout was aimed at the post-War Jeep models that were picking up business from international Harvester’s traditional agricultural customers.
In Australia, at least, the Scout was preceded by an R-model-based ‘International Utility’ in 1953. This one-off was made in Melbourne, but our ancient Inter’ engineers – now long-retired – have no recollection of it inside the Dandenong factory.
1953 International_Utility – zanity.com.au
We made enquiries about its origins and current whereabouts in May 2022 and will report when we know more.
The Scout began in 1961 as a 4×2 or 4×4 two-door light pickup that was penned by IH designer, Ted Ornas, who was responsible for the A-Series truck range. His original idea was to use fibreglass reinforced plastic for the bodywork, but costs sidelined that in favour of steel.
The original engine was a petrol four-cylinder, derived by ‘cutting a bank off’ the IH 304 cubic-inch V8. The engine offerings increased after 1965, when the 232 cubic-inch, in-line six and the IH 266 V8 – later 304 – were available. The four was briefly turbocharged, but replaced by a larger, 196 cubic-inch four-cylinder.
1978 International Harvester Scout II – Jeremy
A longer-wheelbase, slightly restyled Scout II was released in 1971 and continued in production until 1980. The upgraded model wasn’t received with much enthusiasm by International Harvester Australia, but that view changed when the Terra and Traveller up-market versions were released in 1976.
In the Australian market the V8-powered Scout II had a performance advantage over the then-new 4WDs from Nissan and Toyota, but it was considerably more expensive, despite dubious build quality.
Other issues were a suspension that proved hard to adapt to Australia’s rough gravel roads and doors that were heavy enough to do damage when opened in steep terrain. Allan Whiting can remember doing an on and off road test in a Scout II back in early 1980 and was nearly dragged out of the vehicle by the weight of the door, when he opened it on a side slope!
That same vehicle needed fencing-wire repair work a few hours later, when the ‘RHD-engineered’ pedal assembly broke away from the firewall. All the spot welds lacked penetration and simply tore out of the sheet metal. It needed bush-repair it to get it back to the IH dealership.
1976-80 IH Scout II Traveller – Mr Choppers
The Scout II sold in small numbers Down Under.
By 1980, International Harvester was in financial distress and ended Scout production, despite a half-million sales to date in the USA and the existence of a Scout III SSV prototype.
IH abandoned sales of passenger vehicles in 1980 to concentrate on commercial trucks and school buses, but by late 1984, the breakup of the IH empire began.
The Scout and light truck parts business was sold by IH successor company, Navistar, to Scout/Light Line Distributors, Inc in 1991.
The Scout brand to return under the VW aegis
Volkswagen Group plans to revive the Scout off-road badge, to create a share of the booming US light-truck market. VW Group inherited the Scout brand name when its Traton truck unit acquired Navistar International Corp in 2020. Navistar was created in 1985 when International Harvester, which kicked off the Scout brand in 1961, folded.
VW, one of the biggest global automakers, but with a relatively small US sales footprint, plans to introduce a new Scout electric SUV and electric pickup, The Wall Street Journal reported In May, 2022.
VW is targeting sales of up to 250,000 Scout-branded models annually in the USA, the Journal reported, with output slated to begin in 2026. VW is prepared to invest US$1 billion initially in the Scout project, the Journal said and would later seek other investors.
Scout will operate as a separate unit of VW Group in the UA, alongside the company’s other brands, the paper said.