1 August 2013

Scout Master’s Legacy

1964 International Harvester Scout

Betsy Blume didn’t learn that her grandfather had designed the International Harvester Scout until after he’d passed away in March 2009. She knew the industrial designer had been with the firm almost 30 years, but the many condolences that poured in launched her on a journey of discovery. Most of them were from Scout owners who mourned the designer of their beloved small trucks.

A graduate of the Cleveland Art Institute, Ted Ornas was a partner in a Detroit industrial design firm when he was recruited to join the International Harvester Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He founded the firm’s first industrial design department and tackled projects including truck cabs and farm implements, as well as a small truck that he drew up on his kitchen table. Introduced in 1960, the four-cylinder Scout helped spawn the modern SUV and changed the way America viewed four-wheel-drive vehicles.

As Betsy began to dig into her grandfather’s career, she discovered that she “didn’t know the enormity of what he was doing. It was never about his input, but always about the overall input of his team.” She found correspondence, photos and the original sketch that evolved into the Scout.

In September 2009, Blume and her mother attended the International Scout and Light Truck Nationals. “My main fear was that we’d go and people wouldn’t care,” she says. “But they gave my grandfather an award.” Blume was touched by the outpouring and the way they honored her grandfather. “People immediately brought us into the group.” She hasn’t missed a Nationals since.

Then there’s the matter of the 1964 Scout 80 “Red Carpet Edition” she found in 2011. It was one of 3,000 built to celebrate the 100,000th Scout, and the owner was reluctant to sell it. However, the fact that she was Ted Ornas’ granddaughter made a difference. The owner even delivered it all the way from Kansas.

Like all other Red Carpet Editions, it is finished in white with a red interior, uses a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine and three-speed manual transmission. Although cosmetically excellent, it was mechanically tired, so Betsy sent it to a Scout specialist in California. Sadly, it was finished a month after the 2012 Nationals. Her goal is to have it at the 2013 event.

Betsy knows she was meant to have her Scout: The day her title was issued — October 31, 2011— was exactly 50 years after the first Scout patent was issued, and the original Arizona title for her Scout was issued within days of her birth.

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