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Friday, November 21, 2014

Johnny Lightning International Scout II

When it comes to the original SUV's, you know the ones with two-doors and mandatory four-wheel drive, and a top that comes off, you get names like Chevy K-5 Blazer, Ford Bronco, Dodge Ramcharger, Jeep CJ5, even the likes of Land Rover and Toyota Land Cruiser.  One that seems to get lost in the mix is the International Scout, one of the first SUV to go after the Jeep in a unique way long before the Bronco or K-5 Blazer was even though of.  Johnny Lightning is the only company by far to make a decent version of the Scout II

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Yea they make light trucks too!

International-Harvester is well-known for making farm equipment and medium to heavy duty trucks in the U.S., but for about half a century they also made light duty trucks, mostly as pickup trucks.  The Scout was designed to challenge the Jeep CJ when it was introduced in 1964 with the same open-top look, removable doors and fold-down windshield, but used plastic body panels and offered more practical models.  The Scout II was introduced in 1971 and improved on the boxy styling with round headlights, egg-crate grille, signal lights below the headlights, The back has vertical taillights, INTERNATIONAL on the tailgate and IH badges on the front fenders.  There was a choice of open-top or a hard top with a d-pillar that curves forward toward the bottom.  The hood opens forward like the Corvette to show off the 304 CID V8 through a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic..  The chassis has live front and rear axles supported by leaf springs and a two-speed transfer case.  The interior has a car-like setup with front bucket seats, center console, rear bench, and a flat dash that featured the speedometer to the right of the 3-spoke steering wheel, while all other gauges are to the left.  All shift levers are located on the floor for easy access.  The Rallye package featured side stripes, aluminum rallye wheels, and a stiffer suspension.  The last of the light-duty International truck line arrived in 1980.

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When and When not to do it right

The first When Not is the first release of the Scout II by Johnny Lightning:  Chrome body.  This was an ill-advised attempt to get the attention to consumers that the chrome JL's are the first release of a new casting for the year.  Collectors would rather prefer a normal paint job instead.  The first release features metal base, rubber tires with deep threads, an a soft top that has a different texture to later models, and yes the top does come off on certain models.  The hood shows off the V8 in detailed format.  Next up was the introduction of the raised version (not shown).  It sounded good...until you saw the end result that was weak with the regular tires and what appears to be off-centered from the body of the vehicle.  Again what NOT to do.

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Then JL gets it right with the normal stock Scouts with regular ride height and stock paint for the Forever 64 line, as this black Rallye version shows.  The Chevy rallye wheels look good here, as does the side stripes and the new hardtop with curved D-pillar.  Then again you get what you pay for as the later Forever 64 models have a plastic base, plastic tires, and lack any detailing of the engine.  It took me a long time to get this version despite the many attempts to get it a few years ago.  Why the wait?  I was hoping Matchbox would do better and they didn't, so back to the regular stock Scout from JL I go!

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Update 5-27-17:  Just when Johnny Lightning was good for dead, it returns with magnitude.  Just take a look at the recent International Scout II in this gorgeous copper color.  It has the hardtop like before but adds a roof rack on top (my tester's rack was a bit warped), side billboard stripes in white, additional badging on the sides and the rear tailgate.  The metal base returns, so does the forward-opening hood, a nice tan interior where the shifters in black are visible even more, and top it off with those cool white rally wheels (from the 1975 Corvette) on rubber tires with white lettering.  This is by far one of the best variations of the Scout casting and a big favorite among collectors right now.

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  1. That roof rack is totally wrong. Matchbox is now putting out some decent ones... finally.

    See ebay #222645366943

  2. https://www.ebay.com/itm/222645366943