Rare Turbo-Diesel: 1980 International Scout II

This 1980 International Scout II was the end of the line for International Harvester’s notable SUV. While all the rage today, International, along with Ford and its Bronco, were ahead of the curve with their rugged, go-anywhere vehicles. This example, however, has a bit more going for it and will be an interesting study. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, this Scout II is available, here on Barn Finds Classifieds for $15,000, OBO.

I haven’t seen an International Scout in the steel in years, and honestly, other than an occasional glimpse, don’t recall spying one very often way back when. Nevertheless, they make regular appearances on Barn Finds. The total production run from 1961 through 1980 was a bit over 500K copies, and this example, being a 1980 model, is technically a Scout II, first offered in ’71.

Though for some of us, 1980 seems like yesterday, it wasn’t, and sometimes it’s hard to imagine how much things have changed with the passage of 42 years. One of those things is automotive amenities, the spartan and austere nature of utility vehicles and pickup trucks from this bygone era wouldn’t cut it today. And in this case, once you look beyond the tattered seat upholstery, you’ll find a steel and rubber/vinyl environment that engages the driver with the bare minimum. If you think about it, it makes sense for a vehicle that ostensibly is used for muddy and impeded road access, adventures like hunting, or maybe just ingress and egress of one’s rural property. Suburban cruisers these weren’t, and suburbia was a shadow of what it has become since the ’70s.

The surprise here, however, is what’s under the hood as that surreptitiously described SD33-T engine is actually a 101 HP, 198 CI Nissan sourced inline, six-cylinder, turbo diesel. No AMC six or an International six/ V8 here, this engine option is considered to be pretty rare this late in the Scout II’s production cycle. As a result of a recent rebuild, the seller describes this engine as “essentially brand new“. Further added is, “The motor also has a better (than stock) intake layout, to include an intercooler, which would become functional after using a hood scoop“. The drive train includes a four-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel drive. Here’s an operational video for your consideration.

Externally, this Scout II looks worn but solid. There are some dents, scrapes, and contusions, along with faded paint and a bit of surface rust, but there is no evidence of lurking rot. The quarter panel end caps will need to be replaced but the seller has new ones. Obviously, the taillight housings are missing but the seller has the shells and a host of other parts. The body of this Scout is far from poor but will require some time and effort to return to its original state. Oh, and if the grill doesn’t look correct that’s because it’s not, it’s a sturdier metal piece from a ’70s model.

There you have it, it’s a Scout II with an unusual engine but lots of potential. Considering the interest in older SUVs like the Bronco, and newer SUVs, like the Bronco, the time for International’s Scout may be upon us, wouldn’t you agree?


  1. William Spiegel

    This is actually a Scout II “Traveler,” with a longer wheelbase and therefore better ride than the shorter Scout II.
    Cool tricks, and the diesel is pretty rare.

    Like 5
    • TC Oztralia

      William, not to be ‘picky’ but this is just a Scout Traveler, the II was only the short wheel base, I owned a Traveler and it was a great vehicle, it ran on LPG but diesel would have been better.

      Like 1
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    Quite a few diesel powered Scouts right at the end. I heard that International ordered more Diesel engines than were needed so lots of them at the end of the line. Some of these can be very expensive to rebuild, especially if you need to get into the turbocharger or injection system. The rest of the truck isn’t much different than anything running a gas pot. Personally I would prefer a basic Scout instead of a longer Traveller but some like this just fine. I often wonder what if International had stayed in the light truck business?

    Like 2
    • Stan

      Nissan / Yanmar diesel ?

      Like 1
      • aaron7

        The SD33T was all Nissan. Used only in the Scout and in the Nissan Patrol 80-83 in the N/A form & then 83-87 as the turbo.

        Like 2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        The SD33 was (to my knowledge) the same as the SD22 that was used in the Nissan trucks, only with 2 more cylinders. Injection pump governors were more complex on the 33 but the pump elements and the transfer pump were the same. The injection pump drive gear incorporated a flywheel-type advance unit that had a tendency to foul with sludge, a problem that could get really bad in typical stop-and-go traffic. You knew you were in trouble when your truck became a mosquito-killer, especially when cold…

        Like 2
  3. Howard A Member

    I could go either way here. Like the Scout, not crazy about diesel powered passenger vehicles, unless they have a “Buzzin Dozen” in the back seat. There’s no question how superior a PROPERLY maintained diesel is over a gas job. Fuel oil is a lubricant, gasoline is a solvent. Big difference, “oil motors” typically go 3 to 5 times longer than the gas jobs,,however, diesels require a certain understanding and don’t like the cold. They are hard starting, smoke( smells like money to me, but incredibly offensive today) low on power, causing impatient drivers to abuse them, a gas motor is just more user friendly.
    Naturally, I’m astounded at what these go for today, possibly justified, there were literally fields of these, in rusty condition, nobody wanted, so very few remain in this condition. The guy I bought my GoldWing from in central Wis. several years ago, had 5 of these, “out back”. they were all pretty far gone, doors hanging, fenders missing, but he said everyone would run. A junkyard near Ladysmith, Wis. on Hy.8, for years literally had a field full, had to be 30 or more. Before I left I went by, and only a few remained. Changing this to a gas motor probably wouldn’t be worth it, and like my Jeep, just be happy at 35 mph on the hills,,,oh oh, still dropping, might run out of gears and have to go to the “low side” of the transfer case,,,

    Like 5
  4. Car Nut Tacoma

    Nice looking International Scout. It’s a crying shame that it was discontinued when it was. It’s even more sad that more SUVs weren’t made available with turbo diesel engines. Assuming service centres were ever available to maintain the Nissan Turbo Diesel engine, I would’ve willingly bought one.

  5. David Rankin

    Had 2 1980 Scout Tara’s’ with the Nissan diesels. Those engines would “scream”. They need bigger fuel lines from the tank to engine, froze up easily. You can run straight kerosene in them if needed to keep from freezing up.

    Like 1
  6. dogwater


    Like 3
    • Howard A Member

      Ah, there’s always one, what’s junk about it? For the 97th time, these were built with all off the shelf parts, Dana, Warn, Timkin, Bendix, all “war proven” stuff and the gas motors got a lot of kids to school, wishing they would break down, they rarely did. Now if it’s the diesel you say is junk,,maybe, that depends greatly on how it’s used, but the Scout itself was not junk. Jeep Wagoneer, yes, that was junk( I know, what did he say?) and you’ll get a thousand different views on what someone considered junk, but just about everyone can agree, while it always lived in the shadow of the CJ, the Scout was one of the best vehicles made.

      Like 5
  7. chrlsful

    I thought it wuz Isuzzu (cant spell in american, never mind Japanese) aahahahaa
    The ’79 had SD32, the ’80 SD33 which got the turbo the SD32 did not have?

    Above: too short for Traveler, too long for Scout II?
    My eyes still work, age musta caught up to my brain, yeah, Altzhimers~

  8. FordFixer Member

    Agree with Howard A. Northwest Colorado growing up, the ranchers really jumped on the scouts ( especially the Scout II with V8 ) after driving the short wheelbase jeeps. Tough trucks, and parts available at your local tractor dealer. Lots of Binders in those days.

    Like 1
  9. Kevin Wells

    I owned a 1977 Scout Traveler with the 345 V8. It had great heat and ac, and the turning diameter was just crazy. It could make the tightest u turns imaginable, lol.

  10. Richard Ardrey

    I have a 1980 Traveler. Very good condition. sd33T with inter-cooler. Automatic 727 with low taxi 1st gear. The stock radiator has been replaced with a large 4 core radiator. The transmission has its own cooler.
    The large radiator cools the head much better than stock. My pyromometer
    is set to alarm at 875deg F. The ‘T’ case is dana 20. Auto hubs.
    Two A/C units.Coldweather starting system with after glow .
    Original gauges have an electronic CVR.
    It lives indoors and is driven every chance I get, when it is not raining.
    The stock brakes are hydroboost assisted.
    Electric door locks and electric mirrors.
    Without A/C it can get 22mpg. More on the highway at double nickel.
    The old fuel would get 27mpg.

  11. Marty Madden

    I have a 1980 scout with the SD 33T and I cracked the head not sure where to find one, any help would be appreciated, thanks

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