Cut-Down Engine of the Week: IHC Comanche

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The cost of developing an all-new new engine from a blank sheet of paper ranges from tremendous to bankrupting, so many vehicle manufacturers have taken a shortcut by turning a big engine into a smaller one. Some have created straight-fours by slicing off two cylinders from a straight-six (e.g., the Ford HSC or Chevrolet 153), or a V6 using three-fourths of a V8 (e.g., the Buick V6, Chrysler 3.9 Magnum or Chevrolet 90° V6). Our favorite type of cut-down engine might just be the four-cylinder made using one bank of a V8, as seen in the GM Iron Duke and Pontiac Trophy-4. That’s the route taken by the International Harvester Corp. when the Scout needed a four-cylinder powerplant: the Comanche.

1978 IHC Scout brochure cover

These are some very manly Scout-driving fishermen. Photo by International Harvester Corporation via Old Car Brochures

IHC built 304-cubic-inch versions of its sturdy pushrod V8 for stationary industrial use during the late 1950s, when the Scout was being developed, so the Scout designers crafted an engine block based on a single bank from this engine. This resulted in a big 152-cubic-inch (2.5-liter) four-cylinder that used most of the components from its V8 ancestor and made good torque for a geared-down off-roader. The Comanche four-cylinder became the base engine in the Scout, from its sales debut in 1961 all the way through the final Scout model year of 1980.

For 1968, a bigger version of the Comanche appeared, made from half of the 392-cubic-inch truck V8; this rig achieved a monstrous-for-a-four-cylinder displacement of 196 cubic inches (3.2 liters). There was even a turbocharged Comanche 152 available during the mid- to late 1960s, rated at 111 hp.

A V8 option became available for the Scout in 1966, with American Motors I6s coming later; nearly all later Scouts rolled off the showroom floor with six or eight cylinders instead of four. I see plenty of discarded Scouts in wrecking yards and I have yet to spot a four-cylinder example.


Murilee Martin


Murilee Martin

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