Chances are, if you spend any time outdoors, especially during the summer, a watchful eye is usually kept open for any potentially dangerous insects that could inflict serious bites and subsequent hours of pain and agony. One of the insects at the top of everyone's list is the fearsome Yellow Jacket. This small, social wasp with a bright-yellow body nests in the ground and is as fierce as they come. It's also very similar to Robert G. Luke III's bright-yellow '79 International Scout II. Much like a Yellow Jacket, this Scout II inflicts a serious bite on anything around it, especially other four-wheel drives. When Robert's first Scout II was involved in a roll-over accident, he vowed to locate another one and rebuild it. One year later, his promise can be seen at numerous shows and jamborees all over the greater Austinburg, Ohio, area.
To accommodate the 18x39.5x15 tires mounted on 15x14-inch custom wheels, the front and rear Dana 44 axles fitted with 4.56 gears were trussed and then treated to a spring-over-axle conversion, which would allow for a substantial increase in height and ground clearance once the 4-inch Trail Master lift kit was installed. Strengthening and providing a firmer foundation for the suspension system is Robert's expertise, given the fact that he owns a fabrication shop in Austinburg. Robert trussed the frame in key areas so that custom-fabricated 48-inch-long link bars could be installed in the rear. Custom dual shock mounts were tacked into place up front and in the rear to accommodate the corresponding Trail Master shocks.
The stock 345-cid International V-8 is as equally impressive as the suspension and wheel combination. Being more than satisfied with the power output, Robert chose to add only a few additional items to kick the horsepower number up a few notches. The 600-cfm Edelbrock carburetor provided with fuel via a new 19-gallon fuel tank mounted between the rear framerails was first on the list, followed by a set of custom-made chromed headers mated to a 3-inch SuperTrapp exhaust system. As a final touch to the powerplant, a fresh coat of International Harvester Red paint was applied to the block to make it look as good as new.
With such a drastic increase of the driveshaft angles over stock, custom-built units, care of Custom Clutch and Joint of Cleveland, were fitted with the mandatory CV joints at the transfer case for the front and rear. The 727 International transmission was kept stock so that it could continue to interact with the stock V-8 without any problems. Stainless steel brake lines were installed to ensure manageable stops.
After countless hours preparing the steel Midas Conversion Scout II body, Robert and his father proceeded with the application of the PPG Industries Bright Yellow paintjob. As if the color and height of the rig wasn't intimidating enough, a Super Sport Midas grille insert replaced the factory unit. Robert also fabricated the front and rear custom double-tube bumpers.
In true Yellow Jacket form, the stock interior was reupholstered by Burt Fontain of Austinburg in complementing yellow and black material. For comfort, the seats were upgraded with more supportive foam inserts, while the carpet has the feel associated more with that of a luxury sedan rather than a four-wheel drive. For safety concerns, a 2-inch custom-bent steel rollbar was added. Some of the sound system's highlights include a 500-watt Majestic amplifier, a Pioneer CD head unit, and a variety of ROAR speakers in assorted sizes and shapes, installed in strategic locations to ensure the best possible sound.
Yellow, ground nesting, and fearsome are just a few words that spectators, fellow drivers, and 'wheelers may use to describe this incredible piece of machinery. Just a word to the wise: If you ever look in your rearview mirror and see Robert and his Yellow Jacket coming your way, just pull aside and let them go -- that is, if you don't want to get stung.
Owner/hometown: Robert G. Luke III/Austinburg, Ohio
Make/model: '79 International Harvester Scout II
Engine: 345ci Stock International V-8
Aspiration: 600-cfm Edelbrock Carburetor; custom chromed headers; SuperTrapp exhaust
Transmission: Stock 727 International automatic
Axles/differentials: 4:56 gears (front/rear)
Suspension: 4-inch Trail Master lift; spring-over-axle conversion; Trail Master shocks; custom trussed frame; 48-inch link bars; custom-built axle trusses
Wheels/tires: 15x14-inch custom/18x39.5x15