He has learned that the rarest of the rare International Scouts were the 25 Baja Scout SSII models with the special Midas option.
Smolinski says International Harvester built the vehicles in a Ft. Wayne, Ind., plant and then they were taken to an Elkhart, Ind., facility where Midas completed the vehicle.
One of those 25 Scouts was manufactured April 19, 1979 and eventually was shipped to California where it was sold to a customer in Palm Desert, Calif. That is where it stayed until 2009 when a broker offered it for sale on the Internet last October.
Smolinski was in his Vienna, Va., home that autumn morning on his computer when he spotted the ad offering the rare Scout for sale. Cognizant of the three-hour time difference, Smolinski nevertheless telephoned the broker. He was surprised when the broker answered the call before normal business hours. He agreed to send Smolinski more information about the Scout as well as photographs.
It was so rare and in such good condition that Smolinski promptly wired money to California. He arranged to have an enclosed truck deliver the Scout to his Virginia home. The odometer had recorded only 33,400 miles and after carefully inspecting the vehicle, Smolinski says, “There is no question the mileage figure is accurate.”
Only a few seals needed attention in order to eliminate a few leaks, otherwise the Scout was ready to be driven.
Some of the 25 Midas Scouts had manual transmissions, but this one is equipped with a floor shift automatic. To the right of the gear selector is the transfer case and a second shifter for selecting two- or four-wheel drive.
The Midas option includes a brush guard and running lights, a double racing seat in the rear and an outrageous paint scheme. Smolinski’s Scout is painted dark brown metallic with air brushed sunburst accent panels outlined in white.
The six-pack sized ice chest under the padded center armrest has a drain hole to handle any melting ice. In front of the ice chest are two cupholders. The driver has a three-spoke steering wheel to direct the stock 15-inch white spoke wheels. The rough and ready Scout has a leaf spring at each corner that supports the 3,600-pound vehicle.
While the 19-gallon gasoline tank is protected by a skid plate the front seat occupants have only canvas doors. Traditional steel doors have been replaced with plastic inserts. Smolinski prefers door-less motoring.
“It’s pretty bare bones,” Smolinski says regarding his Scout. It does have an AM/FM radio and a heater in the way of creature comforts.
Steering is power-assisted and braking duties are handled by front disc brakes with drums in the rear. The 345-cubic-inch V-8 engine delivers 148 horsepower fed by a Carter Thermoguard four-barrel carburetor. “It gets around 10 mph,” Smolinski says.
When new the special Midas Scout cost about the same as a Cadillac according to Smolinski. He surmises that was the reason only 25 were manufactured. “Why spend all that money on a bare bones truck?” In the 10 months he has owned the Scout, Smolinski has added 4,000 miles to the odometer. He admits that his Scout is not a boulevard cruiser. It will go anywhere, he says, but 20 to 30 minutes of highway speed driving is his limit. “The wind will beat you up,” he says. “I knew what it was when I bought it.”
Outings in the Scout are enjoyed by the entire family. The vehicle is equipped with a catalytic converter, which, Smolinski says, pleases his wife Vicky. “It’s not loud and doesn’t smell,” is what she tells her husband. The couple buckle their five-year-old daughter Ava into the back seat and drive off in search of adventure.
“I’ve had so much fun with that Scout,” Smolinski says. — Vern Parker
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010