Stranger things have happened, right? Probably, but this one caught us off guard. Back in 2015 a tech at Hurst was perusing Craigslist during one of his breaks and came across an intriguing ad; something that you don’t see every day. A 1980 Hurst Shawnee Scout was up for grabs in the “For Sale by Owner” section of the site. One of three ever produced in a joint venture with International Harvester, this was a rare opportunity indeed. The cost of entry, $175,000 green backs. Yeah, that wasn’t a typo. It may sound like a stretch, and it may have been, but there are certainly collectors out there willing to pay top dollar for an ultra-rare Hurst built vehicle. The seller was local, only about an hour and a half drive from our Northern California headquarters, and many of us considered making the trek to catch a glimpse of this unique 4×4. Of course, none of us were in the position to take the Scout off of the owner’s hands at that price, but it would have been cool to actually see it in person. Well, that never happened, but the ad did circulate through the automotive community, catching the attention of online gearhead destinations like Jalopnik.com.
At that time, and to the best of our knowledge despite reports stating otherwise, all three Hurst Shawnee Scouts were said to be alive and well. According to Mark Fletcher and Richard Truesdell’s book “Hurst-Equipped,” one of the 345 ci 4-barrel carbed V8 Scouts was housed at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum in Indiana, while the other two were in the hands of collectors in California. That said, this pristine factory original example and the museum piece were the only two that we were aware of. So, where was the third? Was it still in California? There were rumors that the #1 Scout was returned to International long ago and we assumed that this was the vehicle sitting in the Indiana museum. Other accounts had mentioned that the #2 Shawnee Scout had been torn apart and scrapped. So this CL find had to be the #3 Hurst International, right? We thought so.
Fast forward one year to a more or less unremarkable Thursday afternoon. An inbox notification from a gentleman by the name of Michael Stolfus popped up on the Hurst Performance Facebook account so we, of course, opened up the message. To our surprise, this is what we saw:
“I will be showing a great International Harvester Hurst prototype special limited edition #3 of 3 Shawnee Scout Aug 11-14 in Troy, Ohio at the 27th International Scout and Light Truck Nationals. Then the following weekend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at POW Pandemonium on Wheels, Hawkeye Downs Speedway. There is Hurst all over this vehicle: Hurst Shifters, Hurst logo in center of the steering wheel and Hurst decals behind each soft door, driver and passenger side. I am in the process of cleaning it up and doing a little restoration. It has been in storage since 1996 because the transmission went out and I also recently discovered the fuel sending unit in the fuel tank was disintegrated and the Scout would not get fuel if it wanted to. I am still cleaning it up for better pictures of this vehicle to show its true Hurst legendary appearance. It won’t be perfect as I am not doing a frame-off, but just a good going through with polish and wash ‘n rub. Leaving it in original condition.”
Wait, what? Our minds were blown. Everything we thought that we knew just went right out the window. This had to be the third Scout. We excitedly replied to the random message, providing Stolfus with all of the info that we had on the other 2 Internationals. Michael shared some of his early resto photos with us and we went back and forth for a few days discussing his plans for the vehicle.
Michael’s first course of action was getting the Scout back on the road. To do so, he had the original transmission and carb rebuilt. After installing them and wrenching on a few other odds and ends that required attention, he hoped to focus his efforts on the Scout’s exterior. The large Shawnee Scout decal that emblazoned the International’s OE hood had almost completely disintegrated thanks to years of baking away in the scorching Arizona heat. The Scout’s paint was also in need of a major polish job if Stolfus intended to bring back its original luster. He had some work to do, but because the International had been in his family for years, the labor was meaningful and enjoyed.
Word must have been spreading because Jim Allen, a writer for Four Wheeler Magazine, got in touch with Stolfus and lined up a photo shoot for a future article. Michael’s Scout was also going to take part in a book signing for Jim Allen and John Glancy’s “International Scout Encyclopedia.” Stolfus felt the pressure of upcoming media attention and decided to pull the Shawnee together as tightly as possible. He took his restoration a bit further by touching up interior pieces and repairing the original seats.
Michael relayed to Jim the info that we shared with him about the other two Scouts. Now remember, Allen co-wrote an encyclopedia of Scout history. He knows his stuff and was aware of a prototype International at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum. But, Allen also knew that it wasn’t a Shawnee. When Michael told us this, we knew that it was time to go back to the drawing board. We thought that we had it all sorted out, but apparently only two Scouts are accounted for and Michael’s dash plaque confirms that three were produced.
So where is it? Stolfus passed as much info as was available about the three Shawnee Scouts to others in the International community and they took it very seriously. This is a niche group of passionate owners and enthusiasts and no one seems to be able to find any verifiable info on the missing International. Apparently, there are several stories floating around as to the whereabouts or supposed destruction of the unique Hurst-labeled 4×4. “I have since heard a story of one being rolled on a ranch somewhere and Linda Vaughn was present when this supposedly happened. The tales and stories really get interesting. It seems for a long time people fabricated several and some made it around the International Scout community for several years,” said Michael.
At this point, your guess is as good as ours. Michael’s Hurst International Shawnee Scout has been fully accounted for. He has restored it as far as he plans to for the time being. To the best of our knowledge, the mint, high-dollar Shawnee is, or was, still in the hands of a California collector as of a year or two ago. So we know that there are two, but we also know that there were 3. What really happened? Mechanical minds want to know. If you have any information on the location, previous owner, or final resting place of the missing Hurst Shawnee Scout, give us a shout. Share this article and help us get to the bottom of the ongoing mystery that surrounds this historic piece of Hurst and International Harvester history.
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