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Government Surplus: 1963 International Scout

The origins of the Federal Civil Defense Authority can be traced back to the panic that emerged at the height of the Cold War. It’s not hard to see why the  government felt towns and cities should have resources close at hand to respond to an attack, whether delivering supplies post-fallout or having portable communications equipment ready to deploy if critical infrastructure failed. This 1963 International Scout pickup here on eBay is likely one of the most original examples left of a vehicle outfitted for Civil Defense, after initially being equipped for firefighting duties. It is listed with a Buy-It-Now of $12K. 

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Matt Williams for the find. The Scout has a fascinating history, beginning its civic career as a firefighting rig for Fort McPherson in Georgia. It was a government vehicle from the start, ordered up with red paint and a strobe light on top. The red paint is still visible in the engine bay, and the siren on top survived even after the Scout retired from fire patrols. From Ft. McPherson, it went on to the Forest Service and the National Guard, before entering the Civil Defense following its acquisition by the Sumner, Mississippi volunteer fire department.

The seller notes that because of its colorful history, a number of unusual options are noted: “….with special part numbers we are unfamiliar with and some that include magnetic drain plugs, 7.00-15 non-directional tires. It has the 4 cylinder 152 engine, 52 amp alternator, T-90 Warner Gear three speed, Spicer 18 transfer case, Dana 27AF front axle, Dana 27A semi-float Powr-Lok rear axle and Ramsey model 200 PTO winch.” This Scout was built to the hilt, which you’d expect for a vehicle designed to respond to disaster and make it across any terrain necessary.

If I have my U.S. history correct, the Civil Defense Authority would guide communities on how to equip their appropriated vehicles with the necessary equipment to respond to disaster. So while the federal government would provide guidance, communities like Sumner would order the specific equipment that they felt would serve their community best and outfit trucks accordingly (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). This Scout is a fascinating piece of history and ironically relevant in a world where chest-thumping about nukes has become far too normal.


  1. kuzspike

    I really like this. Not $12K worth of like though. Lose the grille guard in front and the pipe rack in back and drive the heck out of it.

    • Steve R

      It’s cool as it sits. It represents a point in time and is unique for that reason. If stripped of its work related hardware it becomes a generic, well used old truck without the any visual evidence of its back story.

      It’s history doesn’t make it worth $12,000.

      Steve R

  2. Kevin Lee

    Wonder if this little Scout was on the scene when Billy Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie bridge.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      That was the 3rd of June, 1953, a few years before the Scout was a gleam in its designer’s eye….

  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    Cool piece of US history that goes along with the Conelrad markings on radios. It should appeal to military history buffs, but I’m not sure if the price is realistic,

    Like 1
  4. Madmatt

    An old Scout that is not rotted to death,is a very rare specimen..!
    Dad had one years ago,in N/Ca..,it was from the “sierra’s”,and
    boy was it rusty.It ran great though,and was a great 4wd vehicle.
    These are getting hard to find in rebuildable/decent shape,although
    12G seems pretty excessive,it is in amazing shape considering its 5 years older than me…!….probably worth more too…LOL..!

  5. Evan Allen

    I want that. Touch up the paint, bolt on only upgrades, it should drive just fine

  6. geomechs geomechs Member

    I like it very much. But if I got something like this I would tend to ditch the nomenclature and just use it as it was originally built for. Scouts were good rugged vehicles. Our local IH agent sold a lot of them back in the 60s; the majority of them went to ranchers who beat them almost to death but they always came back for more….

  7. fish56

    That grill guard looks like it’s hinged, probably can be lowered and used to haul supplies, equipment, bales of hay, etc..
    Very cool vehicle.

  8. Rube Goldberg Member

    So much has been said about the Scout, so no need repeating. Another great find of an outstanding vehicle. I’m with geomechs, remove the lights, and use it as intended, even though, there’s probably modern ATV’s that will do a better job.
    A few notes about the “Civil Defense”. As a kid, that scared the heck out of us more than anything. Kind of what like terrorism is today. We, as a country freaked out, “CD” was huge. We had “air raid attack” drills in school, signs everywhere pointing to shelters, there were 8 Nike missile sites around Milwaukee ( some still exist, just in case, I imagine) and I remember the old man tuning the AM radio to that “CD” symbol once in a while, just to see if anything was happening. ( we always were relieved to just hear static) As kids, we knew nothing of what was going on, but I bet it had our folks pretty worried.

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Rube, I don’t think a lot of the younger folk on this site would understand the levels fear that ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ gave the American population.

      After the Cuban Missile Crisis, my friends and I would time the monthly air raid siren tests to see if they were real alerts or just a trial run. Sonic booms from fighters traveling from Edwards AFB would have kids panicking.

      Interestingly, exactly the same things were happening on the other side of the Iron Curtain, back then. I have friends of similar age to me who lived through the Cold War in Warsaw Pact countries.

      Anyone who has visited Prague and seen the metro station in Wencelas Square might notice that it goes down quite deeply and there are a lot of right-angle turns. It’s because it was also a bomb shelter for the city’s population who believed a nuclear attack by the USA was imminent.

      They were crazy times…

      • Gregory J Mason

        Shure was crazy times. I remember them well. The Teacher telling us to get under our desks and put our hands on the back of our heads. (Like that was going to save us from a nuke). Everyone was glued to our black & white TV listening to President Kennedy and hoping there would be a tomorrow.

    • Pete

      This is a test of the emergency broadcast system. They made us hunker down in the hallways. I even knew of one family who had an actual fallout shelter stocked with provisions. Yeah it was serious business. CD was created during WWII with various rolls for the defense of the nation. CAP being one of the first. Fall out shelters coming later around the 1950’s. Cool vehicle though. It is a veteran like many an old soldier.

  9. Tenspeed

    I lived in Tallahatchie county MS for 2.5 years in the early mid 80’s while working as a County Forester for the Miss. Forestry Commission. It is a very rural county where 60 Minutes would go to show the poorest county in the nation. I watched a scrapper come in a crush a junkyard full of muscle cars in Sumner in 1984. It made me cry because he couldn’t/wouldn’t sell anything (he set aside a 65 Thunderbird for a friend though). There were so many… GTX’s, Road Runners, A pair of 1970 GTO’s (one a 455, the other a 400, both gold, only a valve cover missing off of one), a 65 Impala convertible with a rotten interior with a 65 Impala sport coupe right next to it, this is what I remember.

  10. George Soffa

    Beatnik , you know I wondered about the circuitous escalater and dive to the bottom of the Wenceslas square metro station but didn’t correlate it to their civil defense ! I was in Prague twenty years ago, so it was still pretty untampered with Soviet influence , or so it seemed ! Scouts do nothing for me!

  11. britcarguy

    The company I worked for bought a factory building about 3 hours from Prague. It was build in the late 1980s and we found a bomb shelter in the basement. Shows they hadn’t given up the fear of an attack long after we got over it. We sealed up the shelter and used it as water storage for the plant sprinkler system.

  12. Russ

    If it was red from the factory for fire service, wouldn’t the interior paintwork be red, too? Or was that the generic interior paint job regardless of exterior? If so, wouldn’t that apply to the engine bay, too? Can’t believe they would repaint the interior and door shuts on a government work vehicle to match up with any exterior colour changes..,

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