See What Everyone Else MissedEvery fall the automotive aftermarket, retailers, and OEMs converge on Las Vegas for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show. It's an incredible experience with $100,000 vehicles, scantily clad models signing posters, and every cool component you could imagine-and even some you couldn't. For five days the 4-Wheel & Off-Road staff scours the convention center, dodging booths filled with 28-inch wheels and rice-burner exhaust tips to search out the best new products and the latest technology for the off-road market.
It's a lot of work and since most of you can't get into SEMA we do our best to find all the things we know you'd want to see if you could go. This year we found a ton of great stuff, but since we can't sneak all of you in with us, here is your backstage pass to the best from the '02 SEMA show.
Double JointedOf all the new technology we expected to see at the SEMA show this year, we never anticipated finding something that could replace the 100-year-old cardan style U-joint. But we think we have. What you see here is an entirely new universal joint designed by Paul Cornay to handle high-angle and high-torque loads simultaneously. This new Cornay joint can replace conventional U-joints, ball type CV-joints, and even double-cardan joints as shown on this driveshaft. Initial reports suggest operating angles in the neighborhood of 90 degrees with longer life, higher torque capabilities, better lubrication, and less vibration. We'll find out everything there is to know about this new joint and tell all in next month's issue. In the meantime you can contact Mark Byford at Universal Technical Services (864/421-0900), or visit www.drivetechnologies.com for more information.
720 Horsepower!We don't know how much it will cost, what the part number is, or when exactly in 2003 it will be available, but come on, the new ZZ572 has got 720 hp and 685 lb-ft of torque. That's enough power to make a Cummins owner not want to play tug-of-war with you! What more do you need to know? Here's what we do know: The 572ci engine uses a Gen 6 Bow Tie block with a taller deck height (10.2 vs. 9.8 inches), a 0.714-inch lift, a solid roller cam, aluminum heads, and 12:1 compression. A milder (if you can call it that) 620hp version with 9:1 compression is also in the GM Performance Parts (800/GM-USE-US, www.goodwrench.com) playbook. We even got word that GMPP will offer short- and long-block versions of this engine.
The Rock SpiderThis one caught us off guard. We had heard rumors for months now that Goodyear was working on a larger MT/R, but we didn't expect to see it at SEMA. This new 40x13.50R17 light truck tire nicknamed the Rock Spider will no doubt overshadow the 37-inch size MT/R in competitive rockcrawling. But it may also be the hot setup for someone who wants to run 40-inch tires on the street, thanks to its radial construction and 3,195-pound load capacity. No word yet what the retail price will be, but we expect it to be more than $400 a tire until manufacturing meets the demand. But don't let that stop you from contacting your local Goodyear tire distributor, or bookmarking www.goodyeartires.com.
Hate Stopping for Fuel?Do you like driving far away from civilization? Is your favorite fuel stop 500 miles from your house? Would your life be easier if you could triple your vehicle's range before refueling? If you own a '90-'03 Dodge, Ford, or GM diesel truck then Transfer Flow (800/442-0065, www.transferflow.com) has a 70-gallon auxiliary fuel tank for you. This new-for-2003 Express-UFS auxiliary tank will automatically fill your main fuel tank whenever it dips below half. At $1,056 for the aluminum diamond-plate tank and $754 for aluminized steel, the Express-UFS system from Transfer Flow represents a significant savings over its Trax-UFS system that comes with all the bells and whistles. Just think of all the extra fuel you can afford with the leftover cash.
It's Finally Here!In Mar. '01 we gave you a sneak peak at Tractech's new Detroit Electrac locker and promised you it was coming. And you waited. Now two years later it's finally here and available for Dana 44 and Dana 60 axles with other applications to follow. We think this locker will have been worth the wait because even when it's in the unlocked position, the Electrac is a helical-gear type (Truetrac) limited slip. When activated, the electric actuator mounted on the cover will engage the internal locking mechanism to convert this street-friendly differential into a spool. How does it work? How well will it hold up? Well, by the time you read this we will have already installed and tested a production unit so we'll fill you in on just what we think in the April issue. For now you'll just have to contact Tractech directly at 800/328-3850 or www.tractech.com.
Perfect Air PressureCentral tire inflation systems (CTIS) are hardly new. The military and commercial industries have been using them since WWII to give the traction capabilities of tracked tanks to conventional wheeled trucks by manipulating tire air pressure on the fly. What is new is that this technology is trickling its way down to the recreational off-road user-and we don't just mean for Hummers! Thanks to Island City (715/241-6700) of Schofield, Wisconsin, it is now possible to retrofit the latest generation CTIS components to light-duty 4x4s with just a 4mm airline. Applications are currently limited to custom installation in most cases, but with its patented sealing technology, Island City tells us that it is working on CTIS kits for most AAM and Dana axles. The price? It's still up there. Plan on spending around $2,000 for the Sport system, plus the compressor and installation.
No Hassle RequiredHave you ever noticed how the four electrical wires that give you the most trouble aren't on your 4x4-they're on your trailer? If you're like us then you've spent hours troubleshooting your-or even worse, someone else's-trailer wiring just so you can get to your destination without an accident or moving violation. But it doesn't have to be that way anymore thanks to these Wireless Tow-Lights by Tow Brite (800/687-4940, www.wirelesstowlights.com). These remote-controlled taillights use highly visible LEDs and have their own AA battery power source. They receive signals from the transmitter that plugs into a standard four-wire trailer plug on the tow vehicle to operate the blinkers, flashers, running, and brake lights. Now no matter what you tow you'll be visible and legal, and you can leave the test light and wire connectors at home.
We Struck GoldIf you asked us to describe the ultimate off-road wheel, the first thing we'd think of is the double-internal-bead-lock wheel that Hummers use. But we'd change the offset and ditch the run-flat to save weight and permit lower tire pressures. And then we'd ask for it to be forged from aluminum so it would be strong enough to handle a 40-inch-tall tire, but still light in weight. If we were being really picky we'd like a 17-inch wheel to work with the new Goodyear and BFGoodrich tires, but we'd also need a 15-inch version to use with the rest of the tires on the market. Oh yeah, and it would have to be DOT-legal too. Sound impossible? It's not. Hutchinson Industries (609/394-1010, www.hutchinsoninc.com), the same company that makes the Hummer bead-lock wheel, showed up at SEMA this year with this exact wheel in 17x811/42 (8-on-611/42 lug pattern) and 15x8 (5-on-411/42 lug pattern) versions. We almost died when we saw it. Expect to see a lot more of this wheel!
Backpack ShockDrawing from technology developed for its OEM customers, Bilstein (800/537-1085, www.bilstein.com) has just released a new line of fixed reservoir shocks for the lifted truck market. These new 5150 series shocks use 46mm pistons and are available in 611/42, 811/42, 10, 11, 12, or 14 inches of travel with either 170/60 or 255/70 valving. The reservoir position is even adjustable for tricky installations. The part that really blows us away though is that the price for these shocks starts at $99. Thank you, Bilstein!