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1967 International Scout 800 Sportop Convertible - Backward Glances

Posted in Features on October 22, 2014
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Photographers: Jim Allen Collection

From its introduction in 1960, the Scout brought International Harvester (IH) more mainstream attention and single model sales volume than it had seen to that time. IH reeled in a sizable chunk of the SUV market early on but soon learned the market was in a constant state of change that required them to change with it.

International was both flattered and frightened that their Scout had inspired the almighty Ford to begin development of an SUV. As they learned more about it, worry overrode the flattery. Not only was Ford going to up the ante in terms of civilized comfort with their new ’66 Bronco, they were going to out-power the competition by offering a standard Six and an optional V-8. The four-cylinder Scout was lagging in both areas.

That wasn’t all. For ’66, Jeep was introducing a V-6 option in the CJ, as well as producing a more civilized SUV model to be called the Jeepster Commando. Corporate intelligence also yielded Chrysler was working on a new short SUV and General Motors was working on a truck-based two-door SUV platform as well. All this was happening as IH created dolled-up versions of its Scout 80 to carry them to the intro of their much delayed heavy facelift, the 800. The 800 itself was a step towards a totally new Scout known then as the X-Scout and slated for a debut around 1968.

The tailgate-mounted spare and special bumpers gave the 800 Sportop a continental look. The lower body was the same as the regular 800, but the new tops were installed on a separate assembly line. Besides the Sportop and V-8, this Scout was ordered with dual fuel tanks and Warn hubs.

It was crystal clear the public wanted a more civilized Scout, and International had plans. The dolled-up Red Carpet and Champagne Series Scouts of late ’64 and early ’65 had been well received and inspired the IH crew to further develop a Sport Scout idea. As it became more developed, it included all the refinements found in the Red Carpet and Champagne specials with stylish and sporty top treatments that soon became known as the Sportops.

The Sportops debuted in late ’65 in the form of a slantback fiberglass hardtop and a convertible, but production delays with the special top parts delayed volume deliveries until early in ’66. The Sportops featured the carpeted and padded “plushness” (the term is relative) of the Champagne Scout but with a new dash and body improvements to make the Scout quieter, more weathertight, and more ergonomic than ever before. The optional tops added to the style quotient, and all in all, the new models equaled what the competition was doing in all but one area—power.

When the 800 development began in 1963, IH had one engine for the Scout: a 152ci, 93hp four-cylinder built from half of its 304 V-8. The 4-152 had been adequate for a time and certainly out-powered the Jeep Four, but one of the biggest customer complaints about Scout was lack of power. When IH learned Jeep was planning to introduce a V-6 in late 1965, the sense of inadequacy deepened. IH had in-house alternatives, including 220ci and 241ci inline-sixes, as well as 266ci and 304ci V-8s. Both options required significant development, and management really wanted to save the “thunder” for the X-Scout, due at that time to be a ’68 offering. In the end, they opted for a turbocharged version of the 152 to carry them through.

The Scout four-cylinder was half an IH V-8, and you’d expect a V-8 install to be a breeze. It wasn’t. They had hoped for a ’66 intro, but it was delayed until the early part of 1967. The 266ci two-barrel V8 was the smallest V-8 in the International line. It had debuted for ’59 as a part of a “small” V-8 line for the light and medium-duty trucks. It debuted with the 304ci and 345ci V-8s. By ’67, the 392ci V-8 had joined the lineup. All four engines shared similar architecture, with the 266 and 304 being the “short” blocks with a 3.2-inch stroke and the 345 and 392 being the “tall” blocks with a 3.6-inch stroke. The 266 was deemed redundant and by 1969 had been replaced by the 304 in the Scout line.

The 4-152T, first built in December of 1964 for the ’65 model year, developed 111 hp, and that was thought to be enough to carry the Scout through the 800 models to the X-Scout (later called the Scout II). By the time the 4-152T was developed, it was too little and too late. On top of that, it had some teething issues that weren’t endearing to customers. The power subject was brought back to the forefront, and after mulling over everything, the product planning team put their money on the 266ci V-8. It was money well spent, because the X-Scout was eventually delayed until 1971.

It was a lot more difficult than you might think to stuff the IH V-8 into the Scout. Significant front axle, suspension, and steering issues were encountered. They had hoped for a ’66-model-year intro. but it wasn’t announced until February 1967, and deliveries weren’t made until March. The wait was worth it! Not only could International crow about the V-8, a new 196ci four-cylinder (half of the new 392ci IH V-8) had taken the place of the problematic turbo Four and soon replaced the 4-152 as the base engine. Combined with the Sportops and other available civilized improvements, International was no longer under the SUV gun—or at least not as much—and could be said to be keeping up with the Joneses.

Kevin Coulter is the third owner of this ’67 Sportop Convertible V-8. The first owner sold it to a fellow in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1969, and he used it to snowplow his way through college. When he settled down with a place of his own, he used it to plow his own driveway. Needless to say, it was a rust bucket when Coulter acquired it in late 2003, but at least it retained most of the special and unique parts. It took Kevin three years to do all but the top and upholstery work himself. It was restored back to original condition and has been a consistent trophy winner since it was first shown in 2007. It’s won awards in 13 shows since then, including the once-in-a-lifetime Ted Ornas Best Original Scout Award at the IH Scout & Light Truck Nationals in 2013.

The interior was inspired by the doll-up (IH’s term) Scouts of ’65, the Red Carpet and the Champagne Series. Better seats, upholstered door panels, padded dash, soundproofing, carpets, a better dash layout, and nicer trim all contributed to a vast improvement in the daily driving capability of the Scout, and that widened the market for buyers. A safety program in 1966 made the padded dash, seat belts, inside rearview mirror, padded visors, backup lights, windshield washers, and a hazard flasher standard equipment for 1967.

The Details
Vehicle: 1967 International Scout 800 Convertible V-8
Owner: Kevin Coulter
Estimated value: $28,000
Engine: 266ci V-8 (IH V266)
Power (hp): 154.5 hp @ 4,400 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 227 lb-ft @ 2,800
Bore & stroke (in): 3.625 x 3.22
Comp. ratio: 8.4:1
Transmission: Three-speed manual (Warner T-90)
Transfer case: Two-speed (Dana 20)
Front axle: Dana 30 hybrid
Rear axle: Dana 44, open diff, tapered axles
Axle ratio: 3.73:1 (4.27, 4.88:1 opt.)
Tires: 8.45-15
L x W x H (in): 152.5x68.6x68
Wheelbase (in): 100
GVW (lbs): 4,200 (4,700 opt.)
Curb weight (lbs): 3,615
Fuel capacity (gal): 20 (10x2)
Min. grd. clearance (in): 7.75
Approach angle (deg): 49
Departure angle (deg): 41
Ramp breakover (deg): NA

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IH Scout and Light Truck Nationals

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