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Fort Wayne Newspapers - March 17, 2009

Visit Guest Book for Theodore Ornas...

Theodore Ornas 1918-2009

...our Kitchen Table Creator!

This rough sketch was the "father" of the International Scout. The market potential for a 4 wheel drive recreational vehicle was an unknown quantity in the early 1950s. The only such vehicle offered in the post-war period was the Willys Jeep, a version of the military jeep produced for World War II. It was a flat-sided bare-bones product, and American military personal learned to appreciate its ability to maneuver over rough terrain. Sales volume was very low.

In early 1958 we were directed to develop a concept proposal to enter this small market of that time. So help me, Mr.Reese manager of engineering, said "design something to replace the horse." There was no product definition to use as a guide. It was even proposed to use the defunct Henry J body tooling. Compound body surfaces was considered too far out for this type of vehicle. The military jeep was thought to have the correct appearance. Our design sketches with the flat-side, no contour look never excited the executive committee. The program began to die.

One night while sitting at our kitchen table (full of frustration and desperation). I dashed off this rough sketch on a piece of scrap mat board (shown above). It had contoured sides and was designed for plastic tooling. The next morning it was shown to a committee member. He reviewed it with controlled enthusiasm, but revived interest in the program. We were off and running.

Goodyear produced many plastic parts for WWII and had formed a large plastic engineering group. We entered a program with them, a scale model was vacuum formed to simulate body assembly. this model received executive approval for appearance. By July 1959, Goodyear completed their costing and, because of the high costs, the plastic program was cancelled. By this time the contoured design met with executive approval and a decision was made to convert the body design to steel. Starting in late July 1959 a full size clay model was completed and, in November 1959, it was approved.

Looking back, it was a remarkable program with fast paced engineering and manufacturing developments. the total development time of 24 months was a heroic achievement considering the concept was unique and no in-house engine or manufacturing was available or even considered when the program started.

The first Scout was introduced in 1960. A concept for its replacement was initiated in 1964 and approved for production in mid 1965. The Scout II was introduced in 1971. The basic sheet metal remained the unchanged until production stopped in October 1980.

During the 20 year period (1960-1980) 532,674 Scouts were produced. The Scout, introduced as a commercial utility pickup in 1960, set the stage for future 4 wheel recreational vehicles of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Hatching the Scout

Words from Ted Ornas Chief Designer of the Scout

THEODORE ORNAS, 91, died Saturday, March 14, 2009, at Coventry Meadows Assisted Living, Fort Wayne. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he retired in 1980 from International Harvester as Head of Styling and was the visionary creator of the Scout. He was a graduate of Garfield Heights High School, Cleveland, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He loved his family and grandchildren and had a passion for the guitar and Industrial Design. Survivors include his wife, Esther Ornas of Fort Wayne; sons, Eric (Jennifer Joslin) Ornas of Santa Cruz, Calif., Theodore B. (Jill Brothen) Ornas of Sioux Falls, S.D.; daughters, Donna Bloom of Asheville, N.C., Diana (Dwight) Nissen of Harrisburg, Pa.; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, Theodore and Mary Ornas. Service is 2 p.m. Thursday at D.O. McComb & Sons Lakeside Park Funeral Home, 1140 Lake Ave. Burial in Lindenwood Cemetery. Memorials to Alzheimer's Association.

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