Everything Classic Car Enthusiasts Should Know About The Scout SR-2

The International Harvester Scout was in production from 1961 to 1980, and it remains the essence of a hardcore off-road SUV and competes with the CJ Jeeps and Ford Broncos of yore. In 1970, International Harvester unveiled the Scout SR-2, a limited-edition variant of a standard Scout 800A.

The SR-2 is one of the most sought-after Scouts by classic car enthusiasts due to its unique and optional soft-top roof, commemorative paint colors, and burly V8 engine. According to Octane Press, production for the Scout 800A SR-2 began on April 1970, and International Harvester listed 1,975 SR-2 units built until the end of July 1970.

Considering over half a million Scouts of any kind left the International Harvester factory in Fort Wayne, Indiana, until its final 1980 production run, it's not hard to see why the very limited SR-2 remains an elusive find for starstruck classic car enthusiasts. However, if you fancy a Scout SR-2, here are bits of information you'll find helpful in your search.

Promotional special

The first-gen Scout was in production from 1960 to 1971. The SR-2 package appeared in 1970 for the Scout 800A, an updated Scout 800 with a redesigned front end, fortified drivetrains, and an optional 4.4-liter (266 cubic inches) or 5.0-liter (304 cubic-inch) V8 engine. Even though the Scout SR-2 arrived at dealerships as a promotional special with a Traveltop (hard roof) from the factory, International Harvester originally intended the SR-2 as a V8 roadster with a white Whitco soft-top roof.

Moreover, the SR-2 package includes Flame Red paint, white racing stripes on the rocker panels, and chrome Rally-style wheels wrapped in Goodyear tires with white letters on the sidewalls. It looked as sharp as vintage trucks could get, but the marketing department had other plans in mind. 

Octane Press adds that the International Harvester marketing department thought that 1,000 Scout roadsters could be a tough sell, so they decided to make the Whitco soft top an optional feature at dealerships.

Two colors only

The Scout SR-2 was available in two factory paint colors: Flame Red and Burnished Gold. Both colors look fabulous with the optional white soft-top roof. The Scout 800A was initially available with either a 2.5 or 3.2-liter four-cylinder engine, but the engineering team was kind enough to make the 3.8-liter inline-six and V8 motors available for SR-2 buyers. Moreover, clients could specify any transmission or combination of gear ratios for the drivetrain.

By the 1980s, rivals like Jeep and Land Rover were shedding their hardcore countenance, but the Scout remains an agricultural, no-nonsense off-road machine. Eventually, International Harvester had to abandon its production vehicle facility due to fund shortages, and the company shifted back its focus to making commercial vehicles. The company rebranded itself to Navistar International in 1986, and German auto giant Volkswagen acquired the rights to Navistar in 2021, a deal that includes the Scout branding.

VW has since announced its intent to revive the Scout as an all-electric SUV and pickup truck. We're confident VW will give it more power and tech features than ever before, but the allure of an analog, no-frills, and V8-powered off-road machine like the original Scout SR-2 is hard to resist.