Manhattan Beach, Transportation

International Harvester Scouts…A Cub Scout’s Dream

As you can probably tell, it’s the introduction to the things that I love that are as important as the things themselves.  I love the surf mats, because of the memories that the smell brings, or the feel of my father’s shell cordovan wallet.

The late 60’s IH Scouts have the same appeal, not because we had one—we didn’t, but because of my relentless and unsuccessful pursuit to get my dad to buy one.  The same can be said of the 1968 Mustang California Special that I really thought my mom should drive, and the near breakdown I had a couple of years later in a Santa Monica Ford Dealer, where I felt I was making progress to get my dad to spring for a 1972 DeTomaso Pantera as his daily driver… I was so close…

The Scout infatuation was really about the dealer experience.  Bob Hansen in Hawthorne, CA, just east of Manhattan Beach.  Hansen was a big game hunter, and the dealership was full of his trophies.  The most impressive of which was a giant polar bear, up on his rear legs in full attack mode.  There were many diversions by Bob Hansen’s to see his latest conquests, and we always found some reason to get our moms/dads to stop by and the way to/from a Cub Scout meeting/outing.

The IH Scouts were our favorites on the dealer lot.  Simple and functional, they reminded me of a more civilized army jeep, or the Revell half track models that I used to build.  I like that they were modular—some were hard tops, others were soft tops, or pickups.  The most romantic version was the topless Scout with the windshield folded forward—the perfect surf wagon.

One day we were driving down Rosecrans and my dad stopped without any whining from me.  On the marquee out front was a notice about the new Subarus that had just arrived.  The Subaru wagon was available for just over $1,500, and my dad bought one on the spot.  While not particularly cool, the fact that it came from the home of Polar Bears and Scouts is what made them okay.

In the last 35 years I’ve gone through different IH phases, looking for IH Travelalls, and always keeping an eye out for a Scout project.  For the last few years, I’ve been eying a rust-free, desert project.  I’ve penciled out what needs to be done, and even began the conversation with Hot Rod builder and Chip Foose alum, Rob Phillips on what it would take.  I talked to the owner, a proud lover of Scouts, and maybe we’ll figure something out.  What I don’t need is another impractical ride, but I’ve got to get one.

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