If you didn’t live the Cold War, you probably have seen the campy old movies depicting everything from do-it-yourself bomb shelters to teaching kids to duck and cover under their school desks during a nuclear blast. It may seem a bit silly now, but people took that stuff pretty seriously back then and the U.S. Government had civil defense assets all over the USA, ready for use in the event of nuclear war.
The heart of Civil Defense took place on the local level where village, city, county, and state governments maintained a certain level of preparedness. When the Cold War ended, or maybe warmed up a little, many of the assets allocated to Civil Defense took on another role, disaster preparedness. Most of the gear associated with all that trickled down from the U.S. Government, including one ’63 International Scout Cab-Top that ended up with the Sumner Volunteer Fire Department in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, for about 40 years.
This ’63 Scout 80 was built in June of 1963 for the U.S. Government and was assigned to Fort McPherson in Georgia. It was ordered in Red with a rotating red light on top, so was likely used in some capacity by the post fire department. The Line Setting Ticket has some unusual additions with special part numbers we are unfamiliar with but also some of the typically seen government options, including magnetic drain plugs and 7.00-15 non-directional tires. The final checks were completed on July 8, 1963, and it was shipped forthwith.
It was a good year to buy a Scout. Big changes had come for the ’63 models. Among the most popular were optional roll-up windows replacing the sliders. The other big change was the removable bulkhead (called the "Walk-Thru" option) that allowed International Harvester (or the owner) to easily configure a Scout as a station wagon with bucket seats and a usable rear seat, a fully open roadster with buckets, or a pickup. The roof was raised 1 1/2 inches on both the Cab-Top and Travel-Top, and the windows were enlarged. The ’63s got larger brakes, and they were self-energizing to reduce pedal effort. International made its first efforts at body-rust prevention for the ’63s and drastically improved body sealing.
The bones of this ’63 are a pretty standard Cab-Top (pickup) Scout 80. It has the 4-152 four-cylinder engine but with the “big” 52-amp alternator and battery. It has the T-90 Warner Gear three-speed, Spicer 18 transfer case, and front and rear Dana 27 axles. The heavy-duty Dana 44 axle was not ordered; instead, the rear Dana 27A has a Powr-Lok limited-slip. The Ramsey PTO winch was installed at the factory, along with the front brush guard and tow hooks.
We know nothing about it’s time at Fort McPherson, but it went from there to the Forestry Service and possibly had a short stay with the National Guard. By the early ’70s, it was offered up as intergovernmental surplus, and the Sumner, Mississippi, volunteer fire department (VFD) bought it for use as a rescue rig and to fulfill their requirement for civil defense. More than once, it rolled on Tornado emergencies, storms and so on, but gradually it got parked farther and farther back in the garage, used less and less and finally not at all. Five years ago, the department decided to sell it, and Phil Kerkhoff bought it, got it running, and added it to his collection of IH products. The ’63 Scout is showing a bit over 42,000 miles, most of those coming before the Sumner VFD got it. It remains as used by the fire department as a testament to civil defense and public service. Duck and cover!
The Details: ’63 International Scout 80 Cab-Top
Owner: Phil Kerkhoff
Estimated value: $10,000
Engine: 152ci 4-cylinder
Power (hp): 93 @ 4,400
Torque (lb-ft): 143 @ 2,400 rpm
Bore & stroke (in): 3.88 x 3.22
Comp. ratio: 8.19:1
Transmission: 3-spd, Warner T-90 (IH T-14)
Transfer case: 2-spd, Dana 18 (IH TC-144
Front axle: Dana 27AF (IH FA-14)
Rear axle: Dana 27A (IH RA-14), semifloat w/ Powr-Lok
Axle ratio: 4.27:1
Wheelbase (in): 100
GVW (lbs): 3,900
Curb weight (lbs): 3,200
Fuel capacity (gal): 11
Min. grd. clearance (in): 9.75
Approach angle (deg): 47
Departure angle (deg): 35
Still willing to serve and the old uniform fits. The original red was painted over by the Sumner VFD when they got the Scout in the mid-’70s. The Civil Defense decals are the type used in the ’70s.
The Scout Cab-Top was designed as a light pickup with about an 800-pound load capacity in the 5-foot bed. This Scout was ordered with an external spare tire mount that attached to the tailgate, though it is no longer installed. The rack and lights were built and installed by the Sumner VFD boys. The rear bumper is not original, the OE piece being an optional two-piece diamond-plate affair.
The interior is much as it was stock, and as the Sumner VFD left it…less the radio gear. The bench seat was standard but buckets were optional. The heater and defroster were improved for the 1963 models and seat belts were available. The PTO is operated by the red knob by the driver's right knee.
The 152ci IH slant-four is the engine that made the Scout. It was essentially half a medium-duty 304ci V-8. It could be made on the same tooling as the V-8 and used many of the same parts. It cranked out a respectable 93 hp, which beat their main competitor, the Jeep CJ, all to heck. The 4-152 was replaced after 1968 by the 4-196, which was half a 392ci V-8 and made 111 hp. A 111hp turbocharged version of the 152 was offered in ’65-’67 Scouts, but it was problematic to say the least and bordered on a disaster for IH.
The front Ramsey Model 200 PTO winch was factory installed, as was the brush guard, tow hooks and the chain on the end of the winch cable. Yeah, that cable could use a little attention, and it may even be the original. The Model 200 was rated at 8,000 pounds and carried 150 feet of 5/16-inch wire rope. The PTO was Ramsey's PT1-S, which had outputs facing front and rear. The winch, bumper, PTO, and hardware cost about $375 installed at the factory. The front hooks were about $5. The brush guard was normally a $68 dealer installation, but because this was a government contract rig, it was installed at the Fort Wayne TSPC (Truck Sales Processing Center).