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March 2012 Trail's End

Posted in Features on March 1, 2012
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We were thumbing through the July ’97 issue of Four Wheeler, and tucked in between the sixth installment of The Turtle Expedition’s trip to Russia and a Ford F-350 show truck was this fascinating story about a “junkyard-dog ugly” ’76 International Scout II.

Reading about the Scout got us thinking. Today’s off-highway technology is truly astonishing, from what we can drive right off the showroom floor to the trail-ready parts available in the aftermarket. But there’s a lot to be said for low-buck creativity and simplicity.

For example, this Scout exhibits simplicity beginning with its transplanted 6.9L Ford/Navistar diesel. This basic, non-turbo engine was sourced from an ’85 Ford and it made 170hp and 315 lb-ft of torque. It’s not a barn-burner by today’s diesel standards, but certainly enough to do the job. Power was sent through the Scout’s BorgWarner T-19 four-speed manual transmission and it was split to the axles via the stock Dana 20 transfer case coupled to an NP205, which generated a 4:1 crawl ratio. Nothing fancy here, just good, functional parts.

Creativity is displayed in the Scouts custom swing-arm shackle suspension. The basis for the suspension is a simple leaf spring setup in a spring-over configuration, but the shackles are mounted on a swing arm with a removable pin. When extreme articulation is desired, the pin on each swing arm is removed, which allows the shackle to drop eight inches. It’s affordable long-travel on demand. Results? With only the rear swing arm pins removed the Scout maxed out a 25-degree RTI ramp.

The take away here is that four-wheeling technology has clearly changed in the 15 years since this Scout feature published. Some of the rigs from that era cause a snicker nowadays, like those with four shocks at each wheel and 44-inch tires on Dana 44 axles. But low-buck, mega-functional, home-brewed rigs that are reliable on the trail are timeless and never go out of style.

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