The reception to the Bronco and the general swing in interest for rugged SUVs has America’s first SUV maker’s attention. That would be International, and the SUV it once made is the Scout. Five years before the Bronco made its debut the International Scout 4×4 made headlines as the first dedicated off-road SUV. Back in 1961, the only thing close was the Jeep CJ which is now the Wrangler. With 2020 Bronco preorders hitting 230,000, and Wrangler sales in that vicinity the past few years International can’t ignore it. Could International be looking at bringing back the Scout?
The Scout was discontinued in 1980
The Scout was discontinued in 1980. International became Navistar and has been committed to commercial trucks only. But it still has all of the elements needed to produce a new Scout. That’s why it made so much sense to make them for almost 20 years.
In the past Bre Whalen, a Navistar International spokesperson told Automotive News that the company’s focus is on commercial trucks and that there are no plans to reenter the consumer market. Since then there has been a huge change.
Earlier this year Volkswagen offered to buy out Navistar International
Volkswagen currently owns 17% of Navistar International. Earlier this year it offered to buy out the remaining 83%. For a company that has taken two steps forward and three back, Navistar International is seriously considering the offer. It is already in development with Volkswagen on a new engine to rival the Cummins diesel. Unfortunately, their last attempt at engine development caused hundreds of millions in warranty claims and lawsuits. Basically it was junk.
So now Navistar International has an opportunity to both get a solid financial footing and hop into the hot SUV market it created in 1961. In case you forgot, Volkswagen owns Bentley, Porsche, Bugatti, and Lamborghini. All car-based exotics that are scrambling to get or maintain an SUV presence. Volkswagen knows how to nurture boutique car makers while maintaining their uniqueness in the marketplace. The International Scout would be a perfect addition.
The Scout has the same type of following as Jeep and Ford Bronco
The Scout has the same type of following as Jeep and the Ford Bronco have. After 10 years of production, International brought out the Scout II in 1971. On an extended wheelbase, a pickup and Suburban-like variation were also produced. After a crippling strike (at the time the longest in UAW history) and facing a financial crisis it dropped the Scout.
At the time International was in talks with Nissan to use their four-cylinder engine for an all-new 96-inch wheelbase Scout. International’s financial situation left that stillborn. And that was it. International changed its name to Navistar in 1985 and pressed on with big semis and medium-duty trucks.
It’s an iconic name in off-roading that is authentic and truly American
Today there are still many Scout clubs with off-road functions happening almost every weekend pre-coronavirus. Just like Bronco, and Wrangler. It’s an iconic name in off-roading that is authentic and truly American. Just as Lamborghini is truly Italian and Bentley is truly British.
Navistar International can’t keep pace with the demand for its trucks. If everything stays the same it will never change. But watch for the Volkswagen deal. If that happens a new Scout could truly be something to look forward to.