Automobiles New Legend Gives Tired Old 4x4s A New Lease On LifeThe Iowa-based shop flipping the script on the International Harvester Scout restomod game.
- Words Gray Van Dyke
- Images New Legend 4x4
In spite of all of their charm, classic Broncos, Defenders, FJs, Scouts, and the like are really not equipped for 21st-century driving. Sure, their body-on-frame designs offer a seemingly endless amount of rugged capability. However, this also means that such trucks are typically heavy, rough, and a little too eager to go rubber-side up. Add to that an underpowered drivetrain and some worn-out suspension components, and you’re left with rides that can be… troublesome come time to navigate the throngs of rush-hour traffic.
Of course, with enough time and money, even old clunkers can be built up enough for daily driver duty. Accordingly, many customizers have taken to restomodding vintage 4x4s with modern creature comforts like fuel injection, disc brakes, and even air conditioning. Just take New Legend, for instance.
Founder Sean Barber first caught the International Harvester itch when he drove a ’78 Scout II some 20-odd years ago. Hooked on the size, the steering feel, and the honesty of the experience, he proceeded to buy up example after example wherever he could find them. Once he’d accumulated a small fleet of his own, it was then that he decided to try his hand at restoration. Naturally, he chose a Scout II — but into this one he packed a Chevy 400, an NV4500 tranny, an Atlas transfer case, and a pair of Dynatrac axles. In other words, what resulted was a markedly different beast.
Come 2003, Sean convinced his wife Heather to take the plunge, at which point the two bought an IH parts company based in the Bay Area. For the next three years, the two would source quality parts for Scout owners looking to keep their vehicles chugging along.
As their operation continued to establish itself, Sean and Heather realized that they would need more room to grow. Thus, they packed up and shipped out to America’s heartland: Iowa. In addition to being rich with International Harvester heritage, it’s also a much more logistically-convenient location.
Each build begins with a donor sourced from around the country. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a runner; however the New Legend crew is very particular about rust when it comes to choosing a starting point – “not just any old truck in a corn field has the potential to be a Legend.”
From there, the vehicle is stripped-down in its entirety and the body is restored to factory freshness. Every truck needs to “ride better than the day it rolled off the line,” so, rather than putting everything back together as it was, New Legend instead mates the body to a new frame, overhauls the suspension, and finishes it off with a modern drivetrain.
Not just any old truck in a corn field has the potential to be a Legend.
When speccing a New Legend build for yourself, you have the choice of three options:
The first is the brand’s Legend Series. With a price point starting at $285,000, the restoration includes everything from a fresh chassis to an upgraded engine to an all-new interior. Moreover, customers have the option of outfitting their vehicle with unique personal touches.
In the case of the L80-Two build, for instance, New Legend spared no expense. Based on a 1963 Scout 80, it features a coat of grayish olive paint, a beautiful buffalo leather interior, and a heap of modern conveniences like AC and Bluetooth. Under the hood, it’s powered by a 430hp LS3 engine, with a six-speed auto box driving power to the wheels through a set of Atlas II transfer cases and Tom Woods drivelines. Top it all off with extras like a Workman bumper and Warn winch, a Front Runner roof rack, and a six-point roll-cage, and the result is a vehicle that’s ready to take you pretty much anywhere you’d want to go.
Should your tastes be a bit more traditional, however, New Legend also offers “Retro Series” builds. Built on the original frame and restored inside and out, this option is ideal for the classic enthusiast who wants vintage feel with modern reliability. Because the work isn’t quite as extensive, these trucks come in a bit more affordable — $195,000 and up.
With its RT-One, New Legend kept things fairly conservative — at least compared to the aforementioned L80-Two. Around the outside, they treated the 1976 Scout Terra XL to a fresh coat of IH Terracotta paint and some new orange decals. For the interior, New Legend opted for a combination of buffalo leather and original patterned fabric, with subtle but tasteful upgrades like heated seats, a Retro Sound stereo, and a Tuffy center console. Mechanically, it’s a far sight different than it was when it left the factory, now driven by a 161 HP Cummins R2.8 Turbo Diesel engine mated to a Tremec 5-speed, an Atlas II transfer case, and a set of Tom Woods drive shafts.
Last — but certainly not least — New Legend offers a “Runner Series” aimed at those who want to keep things classic on the outside whilst giving their vehicle some serious performance under the hood. Accordingly, the body, chassis, interior, and paint are all restored as little as possible (so as not to compromise that prized patina, of course). By contrast, the suspension, engine, and drivetrain are gutted to make room for the industry’s latest and greatest. These trucks are built and sold as they are available, so prices can vary depending on what tickles your fancy.
You can’t go wrong with any of New Legend’s Runner Series examples, but we particularly liked the 1974 Scout II. After the team discharged it from its duty as a logging management truck, they brought it up to speed with a new 360hp GM L96 engine, a two-inch lift, some locking hubs, and a set of adventure-ready 33’s. Original paint still intact, it looks every part its namesake— albeit slightly taller, meaner, and boasting real-deal off-road chops.
Restomods are a dime a dozen nowadays, but it takes a certain knack to know how to pull one off successfully. By finding its niche and staying true to its roots, New Legend has managed to corner an — admittedly — overcrowded sector of the ever-growing classics market. The only question we have now is: which one will you choose?