Driving the 1968 International Harvester Scout From Fast Five, With Video
Exclusive First Drive of the 1968 International Harvester Scout From Fast Five
From 1902 until the mid-'80s, International Harvester (IH) was one of the great names in farm machinery. Incidentally, the company also built some pickups and SUVs. After all, why not give farmers the chance to pick up a new truck while shopping for a combine? And IH's trucks and SUVs famously drove about as well as a combine, too. But what they lacked in sophistication, they made up for in sheer toughness. So, of course, there's an IH Scout in Fast Five.
"The idea was that the Brazilian military should be driving in something that looks tough," explains Fast Five's Picture Car Coordinator Dennis McCarthy, "but not necessarily something you'd see every day in the U.S. So I came up with the idea of building some first-generation Scouts. When was the last time anyone had even seen one?"
There was, however, one hitch in that plan. "The production designer absolutely hated the Scouts," reports McCarthy. "We had already built five and were getting ready to build seven more, but he didn't want them anywhere near the film. So they were relegated to background duty. Blink and you'll miss them."
So what replaced the Scouts? Some VW Touaregs. Ugh. Maybe they will stop at Starbucks and then drop the kids off at school before the action begins.
IH introduced the Scout in 1961, intending it to be a direct competitor to the Jeep CJ. Riding on a 100-inch wheelbase, the Scout is by no means a small vehicle. It's a substantial hunk of folded metal with solid axles riding on leaf springs at either end. The available four-wheel-drive system was rudimentary by today's standards, with locking hubs in front and a two-speed transfer case. The only available engine that first year was a 2.5-liter OHV four generously rated at 93.4 horsepower. Even by 1961 standards it was primitive.
The Fast Five Scout on hand for Edmunds.com's cram session was a 1968 model. Since it was anticipated that the Scout would be subject to intense action during filming, the first order of business for McCarthy's crew was reinforcing it with a steel roll cage that runs throughout the vehicle. After that, the inadequate standard powertrain was pulled in favor of a 5.7-liter GM small-block V8 crate engine rated at 300 horsepower and backed by a Turbo 400 three-speed automatic transmission. Forget four-wheel drive: Only the rear wheels are driven through a Ford 9-inch rear end.
Lookswise, the big changes are a fabricated front bumper and grille guard and a particularly gnarly-looking winch. That post rising up behind the driver is there to mount a machine gun. That gun would have made our afternoon.
If the Scout were any more primitive, it would be horse-drawn. The huge steering wheel is necessary to get some leverage on the manual steering; the exhaust sounds like the 101st Airborne invading the island of Grenada; and the doors close with the sound of a coffee can full of screws being dropped off the roof of a mobile home. But the OMP seats are comfortable and the brakes seem to work well.
Riding tall on 33-inch General Grabber tires and 17-inch Summit Racing wheels, the Scout's center of gravity is inside the International Space Station. About the only comfort available is that the brakes have been updated to four-wheel discs, with a second set of calipers in back controlled by their own master cylinder and hand brake. This thing was expected to hang its tail out frequently.
By conventional standards, this Scout is awful in every way. But it roars as if dipped in a manly effluvium. It has the road presence of a dozen quarter-ton bombs dropped along the center stripe. And it always feels as if it's about to turn turtle. Or tortoise. Or both. In sum, it's terrifying.
Everyone here wants one.
NBC Universal loaned Edmunds.com this vehicle for evaluation.