Diesel-Powered 1980 International Scout

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This International Harvester Scout is a late production model I haven’t seen in a while and it’s powered by a Nissan-sourced diesel engine. Listed by its original owner here on eBay, it has significant rust and may be best-suited as a parts vehicle. Given this was the swan-song for one of the country’s best-known off-roaders, I can’t help but wish this one could be saved. 

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As a 1980 model, this Scout likely has the SD33T Nissan turbo diesel installed. The seller says it runs and drives, but given the severity of the rust and rotten brake lines, it will need to be trailered home. As a one-year only engine option and final year of production for the Scout, I find it likely that there aren’t too many of these left on the road today.

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Here you can see the severity of the rust. In another photo, it looks like the driver’s door is hanging on by sheer will and some luck, but gravity isn’t helping. The seller pulls no punches in stating that the tub, floors, and overall body is quite rusty. It looks like this Scout was parked over a pile of wet leaves, snow, and who knows what else for the many years it was off the road in its home state of Connecticut.

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It’s rare to find a final-year model in any form, especially with its original owner. I can appreciate the nostalgia he or she likely had for the Scout and their desire to restore it back to running condition, but its long slumber has done it no favors. The realists in the crowd likely know this Scout is only good for parting, but does anyone think it should be brought back from the brink?

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Comments

  1. Chris in WNC

    I love diesels!

    if one had or could find a solid Scout body, this would be an opportunity to get all the diesel-specific components and put them in the solid body.

    not an easy project but maybe worthwhile for the right buyer…..

  2. Tom Hall

    “……given the severity of rust…………I find it likely that there aren’t too many of these left on the road today”
    Heck, “given the severity of rust”, there weren’t too many left in 1981 :)

    • grant

      You win, Tom!

    • Russ

      I bought a turbo diesel Scout II, I was told it was one of the very last ones made – certainly within the last dozen or so. It was about 8 years old at the time and it had already had rust repairs in several places. Absolute top speed on level highway was 74 mph. On the highway you had to start building speed on the downhill for the next uphill or you might crest an interstate upgrade doing 45 in 3rd gear wide open. 101 hp is not enough for a vehicle this heavy. Then the alternator conked out and good luck finding one equipped with a vacuum pump setup on the back of it for the power brakes – probably a lot easier today with the Internet than it was in ’92 or so. I know one more thing – after getting diesel fuel on my hands from the pump at the fuel station, getting it on my shoes and then tracking the stinky stuff into the truck, and the fun of dealing with diesel fuel in a cold climate, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever buy another diesel-engine vehicle. Ever.

      • geomechs geomechs Member

        Hi Russ. Having worked in the auto/diesel service trade for going onto 45 years I’ve seen almost everything from both sides. Back in ’78 Oldsmobile brought out the 350 diesel and everyone bought one, but it wasn’t long before people realized that diesel power wasn’t what they thought. Even though I worked on diesel engines as much as I worked on gas pots, I could never justify owning a diesel because I didn’t think I’d put enough miles on one. But you’re right; they’re stinky and the fuel gets on your hands and feet. I guess I’ve worked on enough of them to know what to expect, should I decide to buy one. As far as this unit is concerned, I’d have no illusions as to what to expect from that engine. Therefore I’d be ready.

      • Dave Wright

        I have a lot of Diesel Vehicles and love them but they are not for everyone and the Nissan engine was not good. I cut a boat years ago that had a set of them installed…….took a year to sell them cheep because of there reputation. Parts availability was poor and few people,knew how to work on them. They were sold by retail outlets that had no trained mechanics or parts inventory. Many of the foreign diesels suffered from the same malities, Renault, Peugeot, some pretty poor stuff. But I love my Mercedes, Perkins, and other American engines. I find the common oriental marketing plans lacking. They want to sell you a new one, not fix the old one. I have dealt with many Yanmar marine diesels and they run good…….but if you have a problem, they will tell you “it is under warranty, bring it in and we will trade you for a new one” well, the engine is 2 decks down and you have to cut a hole in the side the hull to get it out…….if it is a Cummins, they will send a tech down to fix it. My dad hated Diesel cars because of the obnoxious oders particularly if started in a garage. Off course, gas engines are eiser to start when cold so there are trade offs. But I do lots of miles and my Duramax is wonderful whether towing or running light. Smooth powerful and economical.

  3. Redriley

    I worked on the assembly line when the last of these were built. If the frame isn’t shot, you could probably find body parts and maybe replace the whole tub. I think there are a couple of outfits that are making new steel for them.

  4. Dave Wright

    It off course, could be restored. I am an IHC guy, when these were new a movie production company bought half a dozen of them to use for there production utility vehicles. I saw them sitting on a used equipment yard near Salt Lake. Of the 6, one would run. The others had very few miles but all had engine problems. I drove the runner but it was really bad. I had a Scout with a 345 at the time. The diesel would hardly pull itself down the road where my 345 had a ton of power. These would have been better with a Perkins diesel that IHC had used in there pickups for a long time. The parts availability was terrible for the engine and they were hard on the automatic transmission. This is a similar engine to the one Chrysler put in Dodge darts, another failed attempt.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Dave. I agree that it could be restored, and should be restored. These were low in numbers and it would nice to see a few of these out among the ranks. I saw a slightly different version of this motor in the Dodge D100 about the same time as this.

    • Russ

      Totally agree! I had both a Scout II turbodiesel and another with a 345. The 345 was a joy to drive, smooth, reliable, and the power was great. I drove mine home 1000 miles with a Wheel Horse tractor inside it, air conditioner blasting, and sometimes doing 80mph across Ohio interstates. Meanwhile… that cursed, blasted, stinking, grossly underpowered diesel was 180 degrees the opposite. It had all it could do to eventually top out at 74mph but 62-65 was really ‘cruising speed’ on that thing and ‘acceleration’ was virtually nonexistent. I hated it. No more diesels, ever, for me.

  5. DENIS

    I love old Scouts but never had a diesel….hopefully the frame could be saved….I would throw the remaining body away a make a hill climber/boondocker out of it….

    • Russ

      Not enough power to climb hills with that 101 hp engine. The idea must have been a 4wd utility vehicle (forget the ‘sport’ part) that got some semblance of fuel mileage. Mine did get 20mpg no matter how I drove it, but it was so under-powered it was a bad idea from the start. I had a buddy with a full sized Bronco with a 6 and stick and he could get it into the low 20 mpg’s, and it didn’t feel like it was towing a trash truck all the time.

  6. Brian

    Yeah. I like diesels also but probably not in this thing. A nice standard gasoline v8 would be the best.

  7. JW

    Parts only vehicle IMO, from the doors forward seems a slight upward trend, slightly bent frame or rust thru happening. Otherwise I really like the Scouts just not this one.

  8. Larry Member

    I have a International Scout 2dr Traveler with the diesel engine, but I am not sure of the year. Maybe someone here could give me the approximate year.

    • Dave Wright

      It is the same year or very close to this one. 1980

  9. Larry Member

    what year

  10. Larry Member

    1976?

    • Dave Wright

      It is also a Traveler…….it has a longer wheelbase. They didn’t make them until the later years. I had a 1979 for a long time. Order a line setting sheet from one of the suppliers. I just got a couple of them for my trucks, 20.00 each. It will tell everything about it. There should be a data plate on the passenger door below the latch. It will tell the exact build date

  11. Larry Member

    does anyone know the exact year?

  12. Larry Member

    ?

  13. Larry Member

    Thank you Dave

  14. Steve

    Sad

  15. James

    Larry, your Traveler along with it’s pickup version, Terra, both 118″ wheelbases as compared with standard Scout at 100″, were built from ’76 through model discontinuance in ’80. By the look of the rectangular headlights and plastic grille, I would say yours is a 1980, however the grille could be changed out on older models if one were to invest in all the headlight hardware to do it. If this is a diesel and it’s turbocharged, I recall that the only year that was used was the last, 1980. Another way would be to analyze the VIN – I recall that there was a check digit in it that told the year. Finally there might be remnants of the Lineset ticket that would be affixed to inside of the glove box door – believe that told the assembly date as well as assembly components.

    If you were to query the internet, I know there are various places still in existence that could help you with your quest..

    • Dave Wright

      The data plate on the passenger door frame clearly shows the date it was built. The Smog sticker on the core support shows the model year as well.

  16. geomechs geomechs Member

    I like this unit and would entertain a restoration were it not for other projects. The SD 33 engine is essentially the same as the SD22 that powered the Datsun/Nissan pickups only with (2) more cylinders. It was also used in Industrial applications. Parts are getting harder to find but not impossible. The biggest problem I’ve seen with these motors is the timing device/advance mechanism. It is a centrifugal device consisting of flyweights, springs and ramps incorporated into the injection pump drive gear. When it doesn’t work right the motor smokes like Biejing on a clear day–the ultimate mosquito killer. It seizes up after getting fouled up with sludge from the engine oil. If it hasn’t ground itself to powder, it can be removed and thoroughly cleaned. If you don’t want a repeat performance I highly recommend changing engine oil every 2K miles, and keeping the temperature up. I get fuel systems from these engines from time to time and parts for them aren’t too bad to come by. They are made under license from Bosch.

  17. Gary I

    Maybe I am a little jaded because I live where these were built, but if your looking for a good scout, much better versions can be had for ten grand +. If you think you could restore this for less than $9,000 and come out ahead, then you have probably not restored a vehicle before. Parts truck!

  18. Larry Member

    I will sell it for $1750 or sell parts off of it if anyone is interested. I can be reached at 573-541-1970

    • Dave Wright

      Is yours the one that just came on eBay the last couple of days?

  19. Larry Member

    No

  20. Russ

    Looking at this diesel clunker, the first thing that pops into my head is from an old movie where WC Fields’ bottle of whiskey got broken. He said, “What a catastrophe….”

  21. Chris

    Does anyone know what one of these things is worth in decent condition? My buddy’s neighbor has one parked outside his house that hasn’t moved in a couple of years. The body is straight with no visible rust, and the interior looks stock and in good shape. I did a little research and simply can’t find another for sale with the stock turbo diesel. I’m thinking about leaving a note asking if he wants to sell it but I don’t know what I would even offer.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Hi Chris. I’d tend to come in low on a diesel Scout. Reason being: parts availability for the engine. I’d like to have a diesel Scout as well but I’d sure keep it low because the diesel will set you back considerably more than the gas version. Case in point: it doesn’t take much to spend a couple thousand on the fuel system alone.Throw a couple grand at the motor and you’ll wonder where the money went and that you’re still in the beginning stages. When it’s on the road it’s going to be a good running machine that will take you a lot of places for very little cost but take into consideration that the diesel will cost close to double what it would take for a gas. Start dealing from there…

    • Dave Wright

      Most of them were long wheelbase “travelers” they are softer on the market than a standard wheelbase Scout 2, you would need to buy it cheep enough to replace the drivetrain with a conventional gas……..then it would be a labor of love. If it is a short wheelbase with a good body it has some value to someone looking for one to modify. The Nissan Diesel was god awful wherever it was used,

      • Dick

        I have a 1980 IH Scout Traveler, sd33t modified with duel tanks
        and electric mirrors and electric locks. It has a 727 with taxi low ,1st gear.
        It requires an inter-cooler; Hood scoop.
        Hydro-boost brakes. 2 independent A/C units. Original gauges converted
        to solid state CVR. The glow plugs work with the key.
        4sp stereo.
        Cruse control.

        I would rather drive this truck than a new one.

        Good paint, RUST FREE

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