Scout-hearted: 1961 Cab-top
WHEN THE INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER Scout was introduced on November 21, 1960, International was operating on a set of assumptions that proved woefully incorrect. The first was that the Scout was going to be a minor addendum to the company’s light-truck line—maybe 6,00010,000 units per year. The second assumption was that people mostly wanted a pickup version of the Scout. Finally, they figured people only wanted bare-bones Scouts.
So, let’s talk about flawed assumptions and how International came out smelling like roses anyway. Almost immediately, International had more Scout orders than they could handle. A second shift was added on January 23, 1961, the first time for a second shift since the Fort Wayne plant opened in 1923. Production rose to 164 units per day, a gobsmacking statistic for the normally slow-paced company, but it still took six months to work through the backlog. By May 1961, the 10,000th Scout was celebrat- ed, and total production would rise to 28,031 for the year, more than double their best-case estimate.
The Scout was conceived as a pickup, which International called the Cab-top, but late in the design process, a full-length top was developed. This top stemmed from a comment by VP of the Motor Truck Division Ralph Buzzard. He noted that liquor-store owners using the Scout for deliveries might want a lockable bed cover. A bed cover was developed but also a
full-length top, which was the more generally useful idea adopted for production. The full-length top, called the Travel-top, proved extremely popular even though it didn’t make the Scout a “true” station wagon.
How do you define “station wagon”? It starts with an easily accessible rear seat. Because of a permanently installed bulkhead between the front and rear, and a pickup-style rear tailgate, the cargo area wasn’t easily accessible by any stretch of the imagination. International toyed with a rear-facing seat but very quickly realized the lameness of that idea. Yeah, the bulkhead had to go, but it took a while. It happened first with an interim special conversion done on the assembly line (or via a dealer-installed kit) starting in the middle of the ’62 model year, and finally with a removable bulkhead starting with the ’63s. Without a bulkhead the rear seat could be accessed from the front, and the Scout could become a true station wagon.
Initial production had a high percentage of 4x2s by design, but buyers left them sitting on the lot in favor of 4x4s. International adjusted production very quickly, but 1961 would have the highest percentage of 4x2 Scout production in its 19-year history—33 percent. After 1961, it averaged about 12 percent, occasionally falling below 10 percent, and the last year it dropped to 0 percent.
Almost immediately, dealers were inundated with comments like, “If only you made Scouts with a few comfort features.” Early on, “comfort” consisted of an optional heater, left- and righthand door armrests, and a few dealer-installed goodies like a radio. A good number of the comfort requests related to the Travel-top/fixed bulkhead combo and lack of a rear seat option, and they were addressed starting in July of 1962 with the interim Walkthru conversion. Bit by bit, International added bling, and 1964 began the era of the “Doll-up,” an internal moniker for a highlevel-trim Scout. Later that year the plush
<|Eric did the sheetmetal work himself, with Crouse Body Shop in Warsaw, Indiana, applying the paint. Harvester Red was a color that appeared on all International Harvester equipment of the era. Scout tops were all Whitecap White, unless you paid extra to have it painted body color. By removing 10 bolts, the top came off and the windshield folded down. The sliding side-window assemblies came off the door tops. Roll-up windows didn’t come until late ’62. The doors were removable by taking out two pins per side. In 10 minutes, you could drop 118 pounds and go topless and doorless! The 6.00-16 non-directional tires were the standard Scout tire for many years. |>The “IH” on the tailgate was phased out starting in February of 1962 and replaced by “International” in block letters and “Scout” in script. IH marketing gurus decided they wanted to maintain a more separate identity from the agricultural divisions. The rear bumper was a separate option, though a common one. You might be interested to know the amount of filler on this body is about as much as you can hold in your hand. Instead of welding and filler, Eric installed used, repro, and several N.O.S. panels and spent a lot of time with the hammer and the dolly.
|>The Scout 4x4 had a 5-foot bed and a 900-pound payload, including people. In Scouts with single fuel tanks, the lid on the right covers a toolbox. If dual tanks were ordered, that toolbox was eliminated. Interestingly, the first dual-tank setups had no switching valve; the tanks were cross-connected with a sending unit only in the left tank.