How Volkswagen Got the Rights to the International Scout Name

The Scout is one of the most hallowed names in the SUV world. Today, however, Volkswagen says it’s reviving the Scout name for a new electric off-road vehicle. But, wait a second …  Volkswagen? Scouts were made by International, right? International is the company that also made tractors and some work trucks, as well as 18-wheelers. But today, VW owns the company that was once the company that made the International Scout.

Since July of 2021, Volkswagen has owned Navistar, the successor company to International, and thus the rights to the Scout name.

How did VW come to own International and the Scout?

The original Scout was built by International Harvester, which is now owned by Volkswagen.
A 1960s International Scout | International Scout | VW-3

According to the Navistar site: In 2017, Navistar and what was then called Volkswagen Truck and Bus entered into an agreement. That company, now called TRATON SE, took a minority stake in Navistar. Then, in 2021, Navistar became a wholly-owned subsidiary of TRATON. So, Navistar trucks are VW trucks.

Of course, that doesn’t make it clear. Navistar has a long and complicated history that goes back to 1831. Cyrus McCormick started the company by making grain reapers, or wooden threshers that were pulled behind horses to cut grain. His company became McCormick Harvesting Machine Co. In 1902 McCormick merged with Deering Harvester and some other companies to form International Harvester.

International became one of the best-known truck brands

A customized 1960s International truck
International Harvester truck | Bring a Trailer
International Scouts were great for the outdoorsman, but the company made its mark selling heavy-duty trucks.
A 1960s International Lodestar truck | BringaTrailer.com

By 1904 IH was building its first commercial gasoline tractors. Then the company noticed that farmers were removing seats in their cars to carry stuff. So, in 1909 it launched the Auto Wagen, one of the first pickup trucks. By the 1930s, the company was making larger and larger trucks that, among other things, supported building the Hoover Dam and carried troops in World War II.

IH continued building tractors and combines through the 1980s before selling off the agricultural side of its business. But it has gone on to produce school buses, Ford engines and trucks, General Motors Class 4/5 trucks, and more.

Today its brands include International Trucks and IC Bus, it also owns Fleetrite truck parts, and MWM Motores in Brazil.

TRATON is a subsidiary of Volkswagen, and it makes MAN trucks and busses in Germany. It owns Scania which was once a part of the Saab brand, as well as Volkswagen’s trucks and busses division, and Navistar. The idea that VW would build a new a Scout was brought up long before the recent announcement.

There would be no Ford Bronco without the International Scout

The first Scouts were International-branded vehicles.

In 1961 International released the first Scout. It was an all-terrain family vehicle that was one of the first SUVs, though they weren’t called that then. It was a hit. Ford then launched the Bronco and Chevy gave us the Blazer. There were two versions of the Scout the original and the Scout II update, which was released in 1971.

Scouts came in several flavors. The 800B is probably the most common International Scout. It’s the Scout with a truck-like body and removable roof. But, IH also made a truck version and the Traveler, which was fully enclosed.

By the time disco music was disappearing, so was the Scout. After 19 years International stopped selling the Scout. But it has lived on as a cult vehicle that today commands a premium on auction sites.

There was a brief moment last year where it looked like electric-truck producer Rivian would revive the name Scout for an SUV, but now. But, maybe that’s why it’s calling its new SUV the R1S?

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