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2002 Top Truck Challengers 1978 International Scout II

Drivers Side View
Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted October 1, 2002
Photographers: Craig Perronne

From Chainsaw To TTC

Unbelievable. That's what you'll say. Equipment mechanic Abelardo "Abba" Ramirez, 37, traded a chainsaw for this '78 International Scout, which he's nicknamed Terra Cotta, for its earthy hue. With the help of his friend Bob Pontarolo, Abba turned junk into jewels over the course of 4 1/2 years.

"It's been a long journey," he says.

The earliest improvements made to the Scout were born of rusty necessity. Explains Abba, "We began by installing new floorboards because the kids were throwing candy wrappers out of the bottom." Once the new floorboards were in, he and Bob really went to work.

Upgrading the Scout's tired old drivetrain was at the top of Abba's list. His first order of business was installing a balanced Chevy 454 big-block with a 10:1 compression ratio, Hypertec pistons and square-port ST heads. A four-barrel Holley Quadra-Jet breathes life into the big-block through an aluminum Weiand intake manifold. A High Energy camshaft bumps the valves, while ST springs and Crane rocker arms help keep the valves open and closed. Abba turns to his nitrous oxide injection system whenever the mud gets too thick or the hill looks too steep.

Crawling power is created by an NP203 mated to an NP205. Abba and Bob used Extreme Duty driveshafts with 1350 U-joints.

Abba's driveline features a floor-shifted TH350 with a complete B&M kit, including a Holeshot torque converter and B&M cooler. For the transfer case, Abba and Bob doubled up an NP203 and an NP205. The Scout features a beefy 35-spline Dana 60 up front and a Dana 60 at the rear. The guys narrowed each axle by 5 inches and fit each diff with Richmond gears, yielding a 5.13:1 axle ratio. With a Detroit Locker in the front and an ARB Air Locker at the rear, Scouts don't get much tougher than this.

Abba's Scout rides on 44-inch Super Swampers wrapped onto a set of 15x10 Rockcrawler wheels with bead locks that Abba built, and includes two Les Schwab shocks and leaf springs at each corner. A pitman arm sourced from a Camaro was adjoined to an AGR steering box.

Any 'wheeler that wants to ride on 44-inch tires requires mucho clearance, so Abba and Bob custom-built a 3-inch body lift and 6-inch suspension lift, which they got by building two seven-leaf spring packs for the front and two six-leaf packs for the rear.

The guys also fabbed nerf bars, a rear bumper and a 32-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. The two did all the metal work on the Scout too. Consummate car guys, they even applied the rig's basecoat.

For sounds, Abba's Scout features a Sony head unit with Pioneer speakers. Communication is accomplished through a Cobra CB. Finally, a complete underbody floodlight system, great for night 'wheeling, offers evidence of the rig's long journey. A Grant steering wheel, a front seat from a Jeep and Stewart Warner gauges complete the interior package. A Warn 8,000-pound winch was attached to the front bumper just in case Terra Cotta gets stuck in the terra firma.

It's been a long road from chainsaw to Top Truck Challenge for this '78 Scout. Asked how he felt about making it this far, Abba responded with a smile and just one word, "Unbelievable."
-G.S.

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SPECIFICATIONS


GENERAL
Owner Abba Ramirez, Corning, California
Vehicle/Model 1978 International Scout II


ENGINE
Type Chevy 454 OHV V-8
Aspiration Holley Quadra-Jet, Big Shot NOS


DRIVETRAIN
Transmission TH350
Transfer Case NP203 mated to NP205


SUSPENSION
Front Custom leaf springs
Rear Custom leaf springs
Shocks {{{Eight}}} Les Schwab shocks


AXLES/DIFFERENTIALS
Front Dana 60 with Detroit Locker
Rear Dana 60 with ARB Air Locker
Ring-and-Pinion 5.13:1


WHEELS/TIRES
Wheels 15x10 Rockcrawlers
Tires 44-inch Super Swampers

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