In the basement of an apartment building in Nürnberg, Germany sits an old International Scout II. The vehicle features a ridiculously thirsty 345 cubic-inch V8 mated to a three-speed automatic and has aerodynamic properties similar to the Fort Wayne, Indiana factory in which it was built. For these reasons, whoever owns this machine in Germany is a hero in my book.
In a world of apathetic car owners, anyone who has even a passing interest in cars has my respect. But to reach hero status in my eyes, you’ve got to go through hardship to own the car of their dreams. And hardship is clearly what the owner of this International Harvester Scout II has been dealing with.
Owning a V8, body-on-frame, solid-axle workhorse like this in the U.S. is no big deal. Slap some cheap fuel in the tank, make an occasional stop at O’Reilly Auto Parts for some fluids and maybe a carburetor rebuild kit every now and then, and enjoy that epic old truck on America’s wide roadways. But in Germany, owning a Scout isn’t so simple.
This is one of those vehicles whose fuel economy nobody really asks about. If you were to head onto an online International Harvester messaging board and ask about gas mileage, chances are, responses would be “LOL” and “If you’re worried about fuel economy, don’t buy this.”
And it’s no surprise. Under the hood is a 1970s smog-era iron-block 345 cubic-inch (5.6-liters) V8 mated to a Chrysler 727 three-speed automatic transmission, sending power to giant tires tucked under an extremely rectangular, unaerodynamic body.
This is the same formula that makes my 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle such a thirsty beast, except my truck adds a full-time four-wheel-drive system (Smartly, my Jeep’s previous owner installed a second fuel tank to deal with the drinking problem). I’d never dream of driving it in Germany, where fuel costs right now sit at around $6 per gallon.
Seriously, imagine driving from Nürnberg to Munich—that’s about 215 miles round trip (or a little more than the distance from Dallas to Austin). Let’s say you averaged about 13 mpg at $6 a gallon. That’s $100 for that relatively short trip, which could have cost you $30 had you taken the train. And if you did that, you wouldn’t have had to park this enormous behemoth in crowded city streets.
Clearly, this person is a Jalopnik hero. He or she clearly puts up with a significant amount of bullshit to own what is, if we’re honest, a pretty obscure dream-car. Parking this big rig is probably rough, as is filling up its tank, but what about inspection? Sure, this Scout looks good, but check out all of those leaks in the photo above! I could see that eventually becoming a problem in Germany.
Not even the speedometer makes this Scout-owner’s life easy:
This person simply Sharpied over the glass to indicate speed in kilometers, since the actual gauge is in mph. That works, I guess?
I may never understand why this person owns this particular machine in Germany, but that’s the beauty of car culture: It highlights the irrational nature of human beings. People drive what they want to drive, often to their own detriment. And I’m glad they do because if they didn’t, I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of seeing these old Lincoln Continentals just a few meters away from the Scout:
I officially grant these people (or perhaps it’s a single person) the keys to the Jalopnik city.