Continuing our illicit and misunderstood affair with all things rusty and loud, Mr. Scout called me yesterday to tell me about a pair of 800 B’s he needed to check out in Elkridge, not far from here, and asked if I’d like to play hooky with him. He used his most sultry meet-me-in-the-junkyard voice, which he knows I can’t resist, and picked me up after lunchtime. We turned off Rt. 1 through town and onto a side road parallel to the railroad tracks, snaking up into a wooded community where two trucks sat rusting mere feet from the tracks.
The 800 B was the final variant of the original Scout model, produced for a short while in late 1971 before the rollout of the Scout II. It came with a choice of a 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder gas engine and multiple transmission options, and little other creature comforts. Designed in the late 1950s as a competitor to the Willys Jeep, it was a wildly successful utility vehicle produced by a manufacturer of agricultural equipment, which meant it was a bulletproof way to get from field to town and back again when one needed to fetch a part for the tractor from the dealership. I was a little excited when he told me about them, because the only trucks I find more appealing than the Scout II are the Scout 80-800 series.
The two examples we looked at were in pretty rough shape from sitting for an extended period of time. The “runner” had a 6-cylinder 266 cubic inch engine and a 3-speed stick (most likely a Borg Warner T-18), and it was painted a bright blue. The color couldn’t hide the fact that several of the body panels were laced with rust, and the interior floor was gone in several places. We were told the transmission was shot, which was the reason for its retirement, and apparently it had been sitting for several years waiting for a donor.
The second truck had a V-8 of indeterminate size (because of their similar body mounts and identical bellhousing setups, IH engines were very easy swapouts) and the same transmission, but it was in much worse shape. An advanced state of cancer had taken the body tub and most of the panels, although the top was in reasonably good condition.
After an extended viewing, we both agreed these two trucks were well beyond our help, even though they contained a wealth of rare parts. I think they add up to 2/3 of a decent Scout for a man with lots of spare time and a tolerance for pain—but not this man. It’s gotten to the point now where I’ll hear about a Scout for sale and set my expectations purposely low because of the condition I usually find them in, and these were no exception.