Unob­tainium: The Hurst Shawnee Scout

IN 1979, IN­TER­NA­TIONAL HAR­VESTER (IH) WAS on the de­cline but still fight­ing. The IH board had fi­nally be­gun to re­al­ize that man­ag­ing the Scout brand was go­ing to take some out­side auto in­dus­try ex­per­tise, not just lat­er­ally pro­moted com­mer­cial truck or agri­cul­tural sales guys. To that end, they hired Jim Bos­tic (1940-1996), who had been a sales exec with AMC. There be­gan some marked changes in the way things got done, and by the sum­mer of 1979, the Scout Divi­sion, later to be called the Sports/util­ity Divi­sion, had been cre­ated, and it gave them a lit­tle more au­ton­omy as a group.

Among the many things Bos­tic did was to push for a deal­er­ship ex­pan­sion to bring Scouts onto “main street” and not just at truck or ag deal­ers. He also pushed to move the Scout line up­mar­ket. Know­ing the Scout would never be a high-vol­ume seller, he wanted to in­crease the profit mar­gin per ve­hi­cle by pro­duc­ing fewer low-end “farm Scouts” and more high-end or sporty rigs. One of those ideas in­volved a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hurst for a sporty Scout. Bos­tic’s ex­act his­tory at AMC is un­clear, but ac­cord­ing to sources in the Bos­tic fam­ily, Jim was in­volved with Hurst in the cre­ation of some of the very suc­cess­ful Amc/hurst col­lab­o­ra­tions, and it’s likely he used those con­nec­tions to help cre­ate what be­came the Hurst Shawnee Scout.

Much re­mains to be dis­cov­ered about the ac­tual be­gin­nings of the project. Some­time as early as the mid­dle of 1979, or as late as the fall, a Scout was sent to Hurst’s Michi­gan fa­cil­ity to be­gin a makeover. Doc­u­ments and im­ages hint at some back and forth on the de­sign. The only known re­main­ing im­age of the Shawnee at the Hurst fa­cil­ity shows sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween it and later it­er­a­tions of the same Scout, as well as the two other rigs that came later. This first Scout was com­pleted some­time in the win­ter, but the ex­act date is un­clear.

On Oc­to­ber 4, 1979, two ’80 model year Scouts were or­dered for con­ver­sion us­ing the Hurst pack­age de­vel­oped ear­lier. They rolled off the line on Oc­to­ber 9 with a lot of spe­cial ad­di­tions, and their Line Set­ting Tick­ets (Ih­s­peak for “build sheet”) make in­ter­est­ing read­ing. They had se­quen­tial se­rial and line se­quence num­bers, so they rolled down the line at the same time. They were de­liv­ered to the

Truck Sales Pro­cess­ing Cen­ter (TSPC, a place where spe­cial assem­bly or mod­i­fi­ca­tions were done) so the Hurst parts could be in­stalled and the ve­hi­cles com­pleted. Oc­to­ber 9 was well into ’80 model year pro­duc­tion, but the SSII had been dis­con­tin­ued for ’80 so a num­ber of spe­cial steps had to be taken. These Scouts car­ried the K0062 model code for the stan­dard Trav­el­top Scout, not the K0052 the SSII had car­ried dur­ing its 1977-1979 pro­duc­tion.

Not much pa­per has been found regarding the three Shawnee Scouts from Oc­to­ber 1979 to Fe­bru­ary 1980. That could be be­cause noth­ing much was hap­pen­ing. In Novem­ber of 1979, af­ter IH CEO Archie Mc­cardell de­cided to take on the UAW to re­duce op­er­at­ing costs, work­ers went on a strike that lasted to late April of 1980. Dur­ing that pe­riod the pro­duc­tion line stopped, as well as a great deal of prod­uct de­vel­op­ment. The salaried guys at sales and mar­ket­ing were still work­ing and IH had paid for spots at the Chicago Auto Show, which be­gan on Fe­bru­ary 23. The first Shawnee was there with press kits de­scrib­ing them as an ’80 model. They even had a ten­ta­tive stan­dard and op­tional equip­ment and price list avail­able, with the MSRP set at $12,998.50. A later price sheet gave them a Gold Star model code and a higher ten­ta­tive price of $13,272.50, with three op­tions: a roof-mounted light pod ($275), an

AM/FM stereo cas­sette ($1,014), and Cal­i­for­nia emis­sions ($105). The Shawnee pack­age alone was priced at $4,510, which is about $14,000 in today’s money.

In early March, shortly af­ter the show, the first Shawnee was given an eval­u­a­tion by en­gi­neer­ing and they found a lot of op­er­a­tional prob­lems. These kinds of prob­lems were and are typ­i­cal with show trucks. The other two Scouts were bet­ter as­sem­bled and likely close to what would have been of­fered for sale. Both of those later trucks got a fair bit of driv­ing time and few flaws were ex­posed. At some point, the idea emerged to give them in­di­vid­u­ally num­bered dash plaques. The first was “#1,” of course, but of the other two, the first pro­duced was mis­tak­enly given a “#3” plate and the last “#2”.

By the time the strike ended on April 21, 1980, the writ­ing was on the wall for the Scout. Though it wouldn’t be an­nounced un­til May 13, it had been de­cided some time ear­lier to ei­ther sell the Scout line or shut it down. From May 13, un­til the last Scout was pro­duced on Oc­to­ber 21, the Scout was a dead SUV walk­ing. New model de­vel­op­ment wound down to almost a stand­still. A few new mod­els, es­sen­tially fully de­vel­oped and planned for 1980 or 1981were can­celled, in­clud­ing the Shawnee. Early on, it looked like there might be a buyer for the Scout line, but that fell through and the Scout died.

Be­fore pro­duc­tion ended and af­ter, IH be­gan sell­ing off as­sets from the Fort Wayne, In­di­ana, Scout plant, and those as­sets in­cluded the Shawnees—two of them, any­way. Shawnee #2 and #3 were sold to Don Painter and Steve Bos­tic (brother of Jim Bos­tic). Steve and Don were bud­dies in Ari­zona, and Jim Bos­tic bro­kered the deal just as he was leav­ing the com­pany. They picked up the two Shawnees at Fort Wayne in early spring and drove them back to Ari­zona. More on that later. The fi­nal dis­po­si­tion of Shawnee #1 is lost to time. The ru­mor mill has run ram­pant on its fate, but ev­ery lead fol­lowed up by the au­thors of In­ter­na­tional Scout En­cy­clo­pe­dia (Oc­tane Press— oc­tane­ came up a dead end. The ru­mors run the gamut of it be­ing hidden in a pri­vate col­lec­tion some­where to it hav­ing been scrapped.

Go­ing back to Shawnee #2 and #3, Bos­tic and Painter soon put them up for sale, and by 1982 they had found new homes. From there, both Scouts re­ceded to vir­tual ob­scu­rity, and it wasn’t un­til decades later when in­ter­est in the rare Scout had grown that peo­ple be­gan try­ing to find them.

Shawnee #2 had sold quickly and went to a buyer in Cal­i­for­nia. It’s still there in the hands of that same fam­ily. It’s pris­tine and orig­i­nal, show­ing a mere 3,700 miles, re­port­edly not hav­ing been driven much af­ter pur­chase. It was re­cently of­fered for sale at $175,000 but didn’t sell.

Bos­tic had more trou­ble sell­ing the #3 Shawnee, and it even­tu­ally ended up at a Phoenix car bro­ker. Alan Mun­son bought it from a Prescott, Ari­zona, dealer in May 1984, and it’s pos­si­ble there was one other short-term owner in be­tween. In the mid’90s, Alan moved to Iowa and put the Shawnee into long-term stor­age with about 52,000 miles on it. Sadly, Alan passed in 2013, never re­ally know­ing how much the Scout com­mu­nity had come to re­vere the Shawnee. Last year, the Mun­son fam­ily be­gan won­der­ing about the Scout, and when they dis­cov­ered its pedi­gree, they spent con­sid­er­able time and money res­ur­rect­ing it. Shawnee #3 had its first pub­lic show­ing in decades at the 2016 Scout and All Truck Na­tion­als (mid­nites­ It was warmly re­ceived and with no small amount of awe.

Af­ter its long pe­riod asleep, Shawnee #3 re­quired some trans­mis­sion work and a lot of clean­ing up. It’s in good con­di­tion but not pris­tine. Alan was a four-wheeler, and he wheeled it. It ac­quired some bat­tle scars along the way but re­tains all its orig­i­nal, vir­tu­ally ir­re­place­able spe­cial parts. The Mun­sons re­gard it as a mon­u­ment to Alan but also as a piece of In­ter­na­tional and Scout his­tory wor­thy of preser­va­tion.

|>The Shawnee was con­fig­ured as a short pickup us­ing the bulk­head from the 118-inch wheel­base Terra pickup. The rear step bumper was in­tended to be chrome for the pro­duc­tion mod­els and was on #1, but #2 and #3 had black painted ones. IH had not of­fered...

<|->The Shawnee of­fered cov­ered, lock­able bed space—use­ful to an out­door sports type of per­son. Pe­riod im­ages of #3 show no jer­rycan or tire rack, so these were added by Mun­son. The last Shawnee pack­age list men­tions a tire car­rier and cover, which...

<|In­ter­na­tional was per­pet­u­ally look­ing for sporty pro­mo­tional mod­els. From 1977-1979, that place was filled by the SSII, which came in sev­eral trim lev­els. The Hurst Shawnee built upon that pedi­gree, cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the Hurst name and the SSII’S Baja...

|>The Shawnee de­cals were quite at­trac­tive, and this is a re­pro­duc­tion of the big one on the hood. The orig­i­nal had de­te­ri­o­rated badly from its time in the Ari­zona sun, so the Mun­sons had one re­pro­duced based on pic­tures. It was hastily done so the...

|>The in­side was sig­nif­i­cantly up­dated, fea­tur­ing Co­bra seats, a Hurst steer­ing wheel, Hurst au­to­matic trans­mis­sion shifter and trans­fer case shifter, plus a switch panel and that all-im­por­tant num­bered badge. Shawnee #1 was orig­i­nally equipped with a...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.