A restorer’s love for an old breed melts the hearts of aficionados nationwide.
In 1980, what Danny Glover really wanted was a pickup truck.
Three years into running his own trucking company, GTL Transport in Suffolk, he was a regular customer of Suffolk Equipment Company. He bought tractor-trailers there, ones manufactured by International Harvester.
That dealership also sold IH Scouts, blocky four-wheel-drive vehicles with interchangeable roofs and few creature comforts. International Harvester had introduced Scouts in 1961 to compete in the Jeep market, and made about a half-million of them before hard times led the company to discontinue the line in 1980.
Glover, a Ford pickup guy, had no particular urge to own one of a dying breed. But when a salesman offered him a dealer-demo for a rock-bottom $7,000, he took it.
So began the Glover family’s long adventure in Scouting.
Danny Glover, now 70, is known as one of the best restorers of Scouts in the country. He’s completed seven partial or full Scout restorations in the past 20 years, all still in his family – including the original ’80 model, driven now by his son Charles.
Like most owners of the quirky curiosities, Charles says he routinely draws stares, waves and honks when he’s out in his Scout Rallye edition. People stop to tell him tales of Scouts they once owned. One overcome fellow even asked Glover if he could kiss his car – then planted one right there, outside a Norfolk pizza place.
If that seems a bit much, insiders say Scout fascination is only growing, with rising resale prices and demand for them in TV and movies. Danny’s brother Butch, in fact, supplied his ’70s-era Scout for an Izod commercial last year.
Danny’s son-in-law in Raleigh, North Carolina, has two of the restorations, a late ’60s model and a mid-’70s. Butch’s son owns another ’70s Scout.
And Danny himself keeps a pair of pristine classics in his Suffolk garage. One is a flashy orange 1977 Super Scout II. The other is a Bahama blue 1964 Scout 80 with less than 32,000 miles.
The latter, once a rusted hull languishing in a North Carolina farm field, a few years ago won Glover a coveted national showcase award named for the late Ted Ornas, Scout’s original designer.
“That truck is absolutely beautiful,” says Eason Lilley, an International Harvester historian from Williamston, North Carolina. He is also co-founder of the Southern Scouts collector’s club, of which Danny is an original member.
International Harvester began making farm equipment and trucks in the early 1900s in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When military-style Jeeps entered the utility-vehicle marketplace after World War II, IH countered with its austere truck-hybrid.
Those Scouts featured early four-wheel-drive technology and rumbling engines also found in the company’s trucks and tractors. But Scouts also were made with a variety of hard and soft tops that could be removed and swapped out, albeit with substantial effort, among models.
Gradually improved comfort, durability and features including air conditioning, power steering and power brakes led to a peak of Scout popularity in 1979, according to the 384-page International Scout Encyclopedia published last year.
The end of Scouts heralded the doom of International Harvester, which sold off its divisions in the mid-’80s. What emerged, Navistar International Corporation, still produces International-brand trucks, engines and school buses.
Danny Glover is acquainted with all of that mostly by his accidental hobby, which started when he restored a ’75 Scout for Charles to drive in high school. The handy son of a top-notch tinkerer – “My dad could build a boat at home in the garage from scratch”– Danny found he enjoyed the entire process.
Thereafter, Scout club members regularly alerted him to models for sale or that they’d spied abandoned on farms and in junkyards. Danny picked up Scouts on the cheap and, in his spare time, set to his meticulous task, usually spending two to three years per vehicle.
Obtaining parts wasn’t always easy. Danny says he regrets not buying up a trove of them when Scouts were discontinued. Nonetheless, he still has shelves full of carburetors, windshield wipers, armrests, dial radios, sun visors and such at his trucking warehouse. Outside sits a trailer crammed with larger items such as fenders, windshields, tires and camper shells.
He doesn’t sell any of it. He gives it away. “I want somebody to use it,” he says.
There are plenty of Scout aficionados who call him or drop by for parts. They also gather annually at showcases throughout the country to talk shop and gaze upon the latest prize restorations.
Southern Scouts puts on its Dixie Regionals each spring at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Danny usually brings a car to display. He also routinely attends an annual show in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as well as the national convention held in Ohio.
“It’s very competitive,” he says. “I’ve seen guys put $50,000 and $100,000 into them to show.”
That is partly because Scouts have taken on “American icon” status, says Rick Glancy, who owns the Super Scout Specialists parts store in Springfield, Ohio, with his brother John, co-author of the Scout encyclopedia. “I see a lot of people buying them now for their kids and restoring them together as a project.”
Danny doesn’t have a restoration underway, although he says he would fly into action if he ever stumbles across his holy grail – an unrestored ’30s-era International Harvester pickup truck.
But, Charles Glover says of his dad, “He still goes to fields looking for Scouts.”
“Everything is always in a field,” Danny Glover says, laughing at what for him is a proud mission.
“I’ve never been in the business of buying and selling. My goal is to keep restoring them, and to keep people enjoying them, for as long as I can.”