Fifty is old, unless you’re age 50 and a homo sapien, then it still seems young. But in the publishing world? That’s truly an eternity, and few magazines ever reach that age. In celebration of Four Wheeler hitting the quinquagenarian milestone, we’re taking an in-depth look back at the world of four-wheeling and how it evolved from a casual sport to a way of life, right within the pages of this magazine.
The first year alone featured the phrase “cars to be tested,” a reference to “Masai warrior hitchhikers having left their seven foot spears protruding from the hatch of the bogged down vehicle,” the cover blurb “VW’s Back Country Sports Cars,” articles on trail scooters, a product write-up on “Gas-Powered Tools” like a chainsaw, and words of wisdom on parenting: “If everyone looked out for their own youngsters, there wouldn’t be so many for the social workers to look out for,” and “Most women thrive on outdoor activity and nothing could please the kids better.” Vol. 1, No. 1 cost just fifty cents, and an annual subscription would set you back $4.50.
What you’ll find here are old-timey photos, vintage covers, actual quotes from stories and editorials, advertisements, and more from the 50 years we’ve been covering—and creating—this industry, including the people, the vehicles, the products, and the events. Thanks for being along for the ride all these years, and cheers to 50 more!
How Did Four Wheeler Last 50 Years?!
“The first issue of a new magazine is really difficult to put together. There are so many things you want to include—and so many more facts about the stories you do include that the whole project is discouraging.” —Feb. ’62, “Our First Year”
Apr. ’63, “Sand Buggy Hill Climb”
“This issue marks the close of our first year… Our first issue had only 16 pages as opposed to the 52 we are currently printing. And our February issue went to 250 paid subscribers—by the time you receive this copy there will be well over 11,000.” —Mar. ’63, “Editor’s Report”
“As those who are regular readers of the Four Wheeler are already aware, the March issue was delivered to them several weeks late.... The print shop went out of business without any prior notice.” —Apr. ’64, “Editor’s Report”
“Any small magazine with an overworked and underpaid staff of too few is bound to make errors.”— June ’65, “Editor’s Report”
Feb. ’65, “Afton Canyon 1964”
“Four Wheeler got started at a meeting of the California State Association of 4wd clubs in the fall of 1963 when I made a brief announcement of my idea. I sent out a subscription advertisement and our first subscriber, a confident man in Utah, sent in in [sic] his money for twelve issues.”—Nov. ’65, “Editor’s Report”
“This issue marks another milestone in Four Wheeler’s history with 16 additional pages.”—Feb. ’67, “Editor’s Report”
“Regular readers of Four Wheeler by now realize that there were no July or August issues. Dropping these two issues was made necessary by a change in our news stand distribution.” —Oct. ’67, “Editor’s Report”
June ’69, “Turn On! In Colorado”
“As our readers will immediately realize, it has been some months since they have received a copy of their magazine.” —July ’71, “Editor’s Report”
“For our many thousands of loyal readers who purchase Four Wheeler at their local newsstand each month, a word of explanation is in order as to why our cover price has increased from 75 cents to one dollar.” —Jan. ’74, “Four Wheelin’”
“Unfortunately, the Four Wheeler magazine library has no record of the August 1970 issue. If any of our readers have an old August ’70 issue, let us know what was happening at that time. Thanks.”— Aug. ’80, “Retrospect”
“This is our best shot at apologizing to all the people who came to our advertised Four Wheeler EXPO ’81 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, and found nothing but locked gates, and no Expo.”—Feb ’81, “Four Wheelin’”
“Four Wheeler is 30. In that time, the magazine has been up and been down, been saved and been lost, bought, and sold.” —Mar. ’92, “Random Input”
“The jury is still out on Four Wheeler as a product of the ’90s. Financial security has been achieved through a favorable change of ownership, meaning that there will be a Four Wheeler, in some form or other, for a long time to come.”—Mar. ’94, “Random Input”
“Over 2,000 magazines are started each year, and after 12 months, only a handful are still in print. Starting a magazine is risky. It’s a suicide mission. Four Wheeler survived.” —Sept. ’96, “Random Input”