Wrangler Hemi Coluld Be Factory Option
While nothing is official, Jeep may be exploring a second engine option for the Jeep Wrangler. The Hemi V-8, which is a very popular engine swap in the aftermarket, may not be all that far away from becoming a showroom reality. Mike Manley, CEO of the Jeep brand, recently received a Hemi-powered JK for his daily use and evaluation, built by American Expedition Vehicles. His particular example utilizes the new 392ci Hemi from the upcoming Grand Cherokee SRT-8. With approximately 470 horsepower being channeled through a six-speed automatic, we can only hope that Manley is so overcome by adrenalin-induced irrationality that he forgets the meaning of “business case” and greenlights this project immediately.
Ocotillo WellsTraining Area
California State Parks, through a partnership with the Tierra Del Sol 4x4 Club (TDS), unveiled their long awaited project—a world-class 4x4 training area at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA). Ocotillo Wells SVRA has dedicated over thirty acres to this park, and with the help of TDS and the W.E. Rock rock-racing association, has built obstacle courses that will challenge vehicles ranging from mild to wild, including an on-site competition course. All of this is open to the general public at no charge. We hope that this partnership sets an example for future collaborations between wheelers and custodians of public lands in the future.
Jeep and Mopar have teamed up again, producing a selection of Moparized Jeep vehicles for the 45th annual Easter Jeep Safari. The Jeep Wrangler “Renegade” and the Jeep Wrangler “Pork Chop” are two of six new vehicles that were shown to enthusiasts attending the event in Moab, Utah, held during the week of April 16-24. Look for more on these cool Jeeps in next month’s issue.
44th Annual Sierra Trek
This August near Truckee, California, the California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs will host the 44th annual Sierra Trek. New trail rides for 2011 are Rock’n into the Night, a night run on the Fordyce Creek Trail, a two-day SUV Tour near Lake Tahoe, and for the first time, an ATV trip. Sierra Trek offers some of the best four wheeling in the country and has a longstanding reputation for great family fun. Nine trail rides ranging from entry-level to hardcore guide participants through California’s Gold Country. All trips include country-style meals, live entertainment, kids and adult games, a vendor show and the famous Summit City Saloon. For information on attending, go to www.cal4wheel.com or call the CA4WDC office at 800/4x4-FUNN.
Automotive journalism icon David E. Davis, Jr. passed away on March 27 following cancer surgery. Mr. Davis had a distinguished career in automotive journalism, including the founding of our sister publication Automobile. He was 80 years old.
Jeep has become the first domestic automaker to surpass one million fans on its Facebook page.
General Tire Crowns Miss Mint
The 2011 General Tire Miss Mint 400 competition has come to an exciting finish. After a fierce online voting competition and rounds of interviews, General Tire crowned Keli Snyder, a University of Southern California journalism student and a television host for Lucas Oil, as this year’s Miss Mint on Las Vegas’ Fremont Street. Girls from across the country competed for this year’s Miss Mint crown, which saw a record number of voters and entrants on www.generaltire.com. The title brings with it the prestigious Miss Mint title, a prize package, national exposure and a General Tire photo shoot, but only one girl can earn the title. Snyder accompanied Team GT as they unleashed their fury at this year’s legendary Mint 400, held last March 25-27 in Las Vegas. Synder officially started each race vehicle at the start line with the dropping of the green flag. In the race’s heyday, the Mint was famous for its celebrity drivers and the Mint 400 Girls. Throughout the competition’s history, the title has been given to a number of famous women, including Lynda Carter and “Wheel of Fortune” letter-turner Vanna White. For more information on the Mint 400, “The Great American Desert Race,” check out www.snoreracing.net.
Utah Vintage Vehicles Bill Signed Into Law
Utah legislation (H.B. 221) to allow vehicles 30 years old and older to be classified as “vintage vehicles” was signed into law by Governor Gary Herbert. Under previous law, Utah reserved the “vintage vehicle” class only to vehicles 40 years old and older. Under the new law, “vintage vehicles” 30 to 40 years old would be charged a $45 annual registration fee. When the vehicle reaches 40 years of age, the registrant would pay a one-time $40 fee. Vintage vehicles in Utah are exempted from annual emissions and safety inspections, and in the case of vehicles manufactured prior to 1968, exempted from all emissions inspections. Vehicles manufactured after that date must be registered as “vintage vehicles” or “customs” to qualify for this exemption.
Oregon Reintroduces Bill To Limit Suspension/Tire Alterations
SEMA is opposing a bill in the Oregon legislature that would severely limit vehicle suspension, body lift, and wheel/tire alterations. Specifically, the measure would ban vehicles whose bumpers are elevated more than three inches over the original manufactured bumper clearance. Identical legislation was last introduced in Oregon in 2001. Among other things, the bill discriminates against hobbyists and aftermarket parts makers by leaving it solely to the vehicle manufacturers to choose bumper heights; would force owners of modified vehicles to spend large sums of money to reinstall original components; and would ban useful alterations that provide adequate clearance for on/off-road capability and accommodate heavy loads, larger tires, improved suspension and water-fording capability. The bill would also impose a fine of up to $360 per offense for vehicles that exceed the 3-inch clearance requirement.