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Trail’s End: A Look Back to June 1989, Bigger ’Binder

Trail’s End

If you have stayed current with Firing Order, you know that Editor Brubaker has lauded the glory days of his “ugly ’77 International Scout II.” His $1,000, multicolor, rust-scourged machine attracted heaps of attention in its day. If we skip forward one model year, we see how Jeff Clouse and his ’78 Scout II attracted attention in a much different—and bigger—way.

“It started out as just a paintjob,” Jeff told us in the June 1989 edition, “then things went crazy.” What began as a simple application of GM Classic White Imron led to the Scout’s body being removed from the frame, and a slow, arduous process of replacing and detailing weathered parts. In natural gearhead fashion, Jeff dove into the engine bay and treated the 304ci IH V-8 to a Holley two-barrel carb, recurved ignition, Hooker headers, and a litany of stainless steel and chrome parts—just for show.

Leaving the tranny and transfer case as they were, Jeff focused his attention on the stock suspension. Trail Master 4-inch springs went in over the axles, combined with a Trail Master 2-inch traction lift and a homebuilt 2-inch body lift, putting the total inches of lift at a baker’s dozen. Accompanying the big lift was a quartet of 40-inch Ground Hawgs and a set of Bushwacker fender flares.

To keep the driveline angle within bounds, Jeff cut the knuckles from the axletubes, rotated the tube, and rejoined the knuckles, thus correcting the otherwise atrocious angle. With help of a lengthened driveshaft, adjustable drag link, and dual American Suspension steering dampers, Jeff claimed that after “gobs of highway miles,” the Scout had no handling problems whatsoever.

Instead of simply replacing the carpet and reupholstering the interior, Jeff opted to glitz the entire cabin with swiveling van seats, Auto Meter gauges, and a custom headliner to house the showy 450-watt audio system. The only thing shouting louder than the tunes was the paintjob. Onlookers’ attention would move from the Warn 8,000-pound winch on the front, up to the Dick Cepek lightbar atop the Scout, and eventually to the body panels, where Mike Shirley, of Continental, Ohio, created his masterpiece. Hand-painted graphics reminiscent of those found on waxed-paper Solo cups are found on each side of the Scout, brushed on in pink. Jeff told us that some scoundrel keyed the custom paintjob down to bare metal, forcing a $600 trip to the paint shop; however, this did not keep Jeff and his Scout from entering (and winning) their first ISCA trophy.

To the disbelief of his peers, Jeff has only trailered the Scout once to a show, and to our delight, he was eager to whomp on the skinny pedal before our camera lenses. Whether your Scout is big, lifted, and shiny or rusting to pieces while still (somehow) pulling plow duty, we want to hear about it. Snap some high-res pictures, send ’em to editor@fourwheeler.com, and tell us about your ride.