I Fear the Volkswagen Scout Will Be a Cowardly Joke

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No, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Volkswagen plans to revive the Scout nameplate with electric pickup trucks and SUVs. We live in a world where the Ford Mustang is a V8 sports car and yet, somehow, a five-door, four-wheel drive EV† Words mean nothing and we live on the worst timeline. There are no more graves to piss on.

Full disclosure: I am an international man. My father and his father before him had Scout II keys in their pockets. I ever bought a full-size D-series pickup of an outlaw biker and built a Scout Terra from the remains of 14 other trucks. I proposed to my wife on the tailgate of that same machine. To be hood is still hanging in my shop and the decal of the fender on my Christmas tree. Me and people like me have been waiting for the return of the Scout for 42 years.

Be careful what you wish for.

Car and driver editor Ezra Dyer say Ford originally wanted the Scout name for the new Bronco II, er, Square Escape – sorry, Bronco Sports† Navistar, maker of big trucks and owner of all the dusty stuff left in the attic of International Harvester when that company stopped selling passenger cars in 1980, apparently charged an exorbitant amount, presumably because internet cesspools like Bring a trailer to have driven Scout II prizes to the moon† Someone at Volkswagen Group heard about this and walked into Navistar headquarters with one of those giant Ed McMahon checks and… bought the whole outfitso VW could claim the Scout name for itself.

Ten years ago, that paragraph would have read like Jalop fanfiction. Today is no more alarming than when the heavens open and bear poo comes raining down.

‘Ah,’ I would think. “A Tuesday.”

So the Scout is coming back† And it is built by Volkswagen. Finally someone will marry the legendary reliability from the company that brought us “never buy a German car out of warranty” with the American nameplate that made rust a factory hallmark. I see the whole scene in my head: a generic unibody blob, heavy with batteries and motors, lifting a wheel on a manicured off-road track in a dead flat Texas. An army of motoring journalists excitedly snapping iPhone photos, as if lack of articulation were the definition of all-terrain capability, rambling on about “heritage” and “capability.”

My grandfather is lucky he didn’t experience this.

VW's vision for the future of the Scout includes an electric four-door pickup truck that is like all electric four-door pickup trucks.

The whole thing smells of cowardice. As if the people at VW don’t trust themselves to build a product that people will actually buy without dredging the 70s for some sentimental play. God forbid they try to cash in on that sweet, sweet Wrangler money with its own off-road concept.

This is us debt. We make it happen, each of us. When Mercedes started calling sedans ‘coupes’ we chuckled into our sleeves and let them get away with it. When BMW stuck a bike pump in the Mini Cooper’s ass and headed for town, we called it the inevitable march of progress. When Chevrolet gave the legendary Blazer name to… this thingwe shrugged. When Ford slapped the name Bronco on it… a lifted Focus, neither of us blinked an eye. That same company claimed the original Bronco was “America’s first SUV” (it wasn’t; that honor belongs to the Scout) and went out of their way to claim how proud they were of the heritage and design of the first Bronco, despite killing that machine before most of today’s autowriters were born. And no one spoke a word to them.

We missed our chance. If we’d locked up the first person to call a black bean bun a “hamburger,” this might not have happened.

Original Scout sales brochure, 1963.

We collectively agree that nothing matters. That any manufacturer can corrupt any nameplate without worry or slack. No wonder nobody cares about cars. They don’t mean anything now. With a few diminishing exceptions, every product from every manufacturer is essentially interchangeable. Pry the badges off today’s typical cars and even dedicated enthusiasts will struggle to tell them apart.

Volkswagen has never produced an off-road SUV worth a penny, including Touareg and Cayenne. Why not let them build a new Scout? Why not add to the jaded EV SUV money grab? Hummer, Cybertruck, VW Scout. The three horsemen of all we deserve.

It happens for the same reason the last three Star Wars movies sucked ass. Because no one involved in their production cared about anything but getting paid. They couldn’t tell you why Star Wars just like, I promise you, no one involved in VW’s Scout resurrection ever owned one before they became rich-boy fetish objects and Instagram porn. No VW honcho has propped a Scout II against a tree or pinched a rear brake hose with Vise-Grips to get home. They weren’t surprised when the machine squeezed itself out of a stream with four punctures and broke the body in half, with the doors hanging open. They have not stood in awe as a corn binder started right away after being in a field for 20 years, eager to keep pedaling.

This new Scout won’t be. It will be a disposable item for disposable people. A Starbucks shopping cart. The shit show is coming, and it’s just another Tuesday.

Zach Bowman is Editor-in-Chief of UTV Drivera former Senior editor at Road & Track Magazinea contributor to Motorcyclistand a supplier of all kinds of punishing off-road trucks that shun modernity. Find him on Instagram

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