Perfect Pitch—A 1979 IH Scout Restomod That Hits All The Right Notes
Defining "restoration" and "restomod" is difficult for some, but not Joe Torres. He knew exactly what he wanted in a "Day 2" Scout—lots of pure '70s sex appeal and a buildup that offered technological upgrades with a retro flavor.
Despite being a Ford Research and Advanced Products Development Engineer working on the most cutting-edge new developments (can you say "electrification?"), Torres' mind often wanders back to the thrilling days of International Harvester yesteryear. He credits his grandfather for this, a man who had an IH dealership for about 10 years and drove International trucks all his life. Joe believes the quality gearhead time spent with his grandfather planted the seeds of his engineering career. This Scout is as much a tribute as a toy.
The build started in 2014 with a '79 Scout in California. Found on eBay, it had spent all its life in the California desert, and thus it avoided the rust problems that typically plague Scouts. Still, it had been sitting for the better part of 14 years and was the proverbial diamond in the rough. Joe immediately saw through the dirt and dereliction and envisioned a shining Scout on the hill.
The first agonizing decisions involved choosing a path to the final result. The Scout was originally Lexington Blue with a Highland Blue Plaid interior. A nice combo but a common one. Torres decided upon the very uncommon Mint Green exterior and a Winter White top with a Russet Plaid interior (an available combo) and Rallye appliqu s. The Rallye package was one of the more popular ones for Scouts that has reached almost iconic status. It normally included a few functional goodies with the appliqu s, such as upgraded tires, wheels, and shocks, but those aspects were already taken care of in the build.
Joe toyed with the idea of building a nice daily driver/four-wheeling truck for places like the Michigan sand dunes. He also briefly considered a stock restoration, but since it already had some suspension mods and sat nicely on 33s, he decided to engineer it a bit better in a retro way. Pretty soon he discovered a vein of perfectionism in himself and tackled every tiny part of the work as if it were the rarest and most valuable vehicle in the world.
The overall theme evolved into what he calls a "Day 2 Restomod." He defines that as building it in a way similar to how a new owner might have done in 1979. Along the way, he wanted to maintain that '70s look, so the appearance is '79 Scout II almost all the way, with a few tasteful, relatively minor exceptions. The project finished up in 2018 and the Scout debuted in March at the Detroit Autorama, winning two awards. Later that year it won five awards at the IH Scout and All Truck Nationals (midnitestar.org).
We had the chance to meet up with Joe and his Scout at a very special place, the old International Proving Grounds at Fort Wayne, Indiana. It hasn't been used much in the past decade, but every product from the Motor Truck Division of International Harvester and Navistar built from the early 1920s into the late 2000s was tested here. When we shot it, the Harvester Homecoming (harvesterhomecoming.com), the first big event in Fort Wayne celebrating International, was just weeks away. After 41 years, this Scout finally came home for a visit. Talk about the hometown boy making good!
Vehicle: '79 International Scout II
Owner: Joe Torres
Estimated Value: $135,000
Engine: IH 392ci V-8
Bore & stroke (in): 4.18x3.66
Comp. ratio: 8.02:1
Transmission: TorqueFlite 727 (IH T407) 3-spd auto
Axle ratio: 4.10:1
Tires: 33x12.50-15 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2