- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2010

During the mid-1970s, Tim Smolinski was a carrier delivering the Washington Star. The frugal boy saved every nickel and dime and in 1979 practiced his salesmanship by convincing his parents that buying a car was a good idea, even though he was not yet of driving age.

His first vehicle was a used 1974 four-cylinder International Scout II. He became well versed in all the options available for Scouts and, more importantly, which ones he would want if he had the chance to order a new Scout.

He sold his Scout before leaving for college in 1982, but he never forgot his first car.

Mr. Smolinski later learned of an incredible deal on a rust-free 1977 International Scout II. It was in such good condition, Mr. Smolinski explained, because after it was built by International Harvester in Ft. Wayne, Ind., on May 25, 1977, it was shipped to Milne International Sales and Service in Alamogordo, N.M. - a climate where nothing rusts.

Records indicate the original owner kept the 4x4 vehicle until 2000, when he sold it to another Alamogordo resident, who kept it for four years.

That owner put it up for sale on the Internet, where Mr. Smolinski saw the car and persuaded his brother, Scott, to buy the vehicle with him, something they did on July 31, 2004, after having it appraised.

The brothers then had the Scout trucked to Tysons Corner in Virginia, where Mr. Smolinski was finally able to climb behind the three-spoke steering wheel and drive it to his Vienna, Va., home.

Once there, Mr. Smolinski’s first task was to remove the Scout’s ragtop and fabric military-style doors. In the next year, he drove the vehicle across town, making mental notes on what needed to be restored. He was pleased to learn that mechanical parts for his Scout are both inexpensive and easy to find.

The disassembly of the Scout began in 2005. During its restoration, Mr. Smolinski is proud to say, “it was on the road the whole time.”

With a base price of $5,168, the Scout SSII was delivered with optional equipment including:

- Off-road package

- Auto transmission

- V-8/dual exhausts

- Power steering

- Auto locking hubs

- Folding rear seat

- Passenger seat/visor

- Trac-Lok rear axle

- Fender extensions

- Modulated fan

- Rear springs/shocks

- Front springs/shocks

- Optional axle ratio

The window sticker price was $6,960, which included standard equipment such as electronic ignition, front disc brakes, 19-gallon fuel tank with skid plate, front bumper and driver bucket seat.

The roll bar was also part of the standard equipment, but Mr. Smolinski had it padded and covered.

A four-barrel Edlebrock carburetor replaced the stock two-barrel, Mr. Smolinski says, “for more punch.”

The vehicle was repainted the original fire orange, and Mr. Smolinski had the distinctive decals exclusive to the Scout SSII applied professionally. All of the small items that are black, such as the windshield wiper arms, underwent powder coating.

With the doors removed, the Scout looks like, well, a Scout without doors. That’s why the International Harverster Scout now sports black reproduction fiberglass inserts in lieu of doors for a more finished appearance. Adding to that finished appearance are the two covers that snap into place to prevent foreign objects from falling into the defroster slots.

The only thing that disappointed, as far as Mr. Smolinski was concerned, was the automatic transmission that came with the Scout.

He remedied that by purchasing a barely used four-speed manual transmission in Libertytown, Md.

After a few alterations and the addition of a clutch, he had the transmission he wanted with a floor shift. “As soon as the manual transmission was in,” he said, “it was so much more fun to drive.”

To Mr. Smolinski, a V-8 engine under the hood and a four-speed manual transmission beneath a short convertible body with dual exhausts spells summer fun.

His Scout SSII is now approaching 92,000 miles, and Mr. Smolinski says he agrees with the message in a magazine ad for the International Scout SSII from 1977 that states: “Owning one isn’t a spectator sport.”

Reinforcing that sentiment, this weekend he and his Scout are in Springfield, Ohio, to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Harvester.

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