The "Letter of the Month" author will be sent one of Four Wheeler's highly prized license plates. So be sure to include your full name and address when you write Four Wheeler at:
Four Wheeler Magazine
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Reader: I just picked up the latest issue, and couldn't believe that lifted H1 on page 45. ("Four-Wheel Wonders," Mar. '05.) Awesome! I tried to contact the guy who fabricated the lift, but the 411 in Phoenix didn't have a number for him. Any idea how I can find him?
Editor: We got quite a few letters about this rig, and the fellow who fabbed up the 6-inch lift for it. It took a bit of digging, but we managed to find him. His name is Jack Auston and his company is J. Auston Fabrication LLC, 1950 E. Janice Way, Phoenix, AZ 85022, 602/923-0012. If you want to e-mail him, try firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reader: I'm writing you with probably the biggest challenge you've ever had. Actually, it's a dare to see if your magazine has the proverbial guts to take on this project. I am proposing that you start off with a fairly incapable SUV and turn it into a capable trail ripper. Start off with an '03 Honda CR-V. It would be very cool to see such a radical transformation-and different from your typical projects.
Editor: A lot of folks thought we were crazy enough when we said we would transform a Lexus GX470 into a rock-ready Rubicon-slayer, but we did ("Project TraiLex," Apr. '05). And we have actually discussed doing something similar to what you're proposing-not necessarily with a CR-V, but with some other "unbuildable" vehicle. Keep an eye on future issues-we'll have some surprises in store.
Reader: I read an article somewhere about a couple that drove a new Wrangler from Canada to Mexico on dirt roads. I drive as much dirt as I can and can't get the idea of this drive out of my head. Are you familiar with the series of trails that would make this possible? I'd really appreciate your help in sending me in the right direction (so to speak).
Editor: Willie Worthy replies: I don't recall any article about a couple doing it in a Wrangler, but I did it in 1990 with a new Jeep Cherokee. I ran a total of 2,795 dirt road miles, and it took me 28 days, not including the trip up to Canada, along with about a year of planning. There was some pavement involved because one doesn't usually find gas stations and grocery stores on dirt roads. I started out by using a map of the western United States and laying out a tentative route. Then I contacted as many four-wheel-drive clubs and associations along the route as I could locate, and asked them for help in laying out the route. The trip started at the U.S. port of entry at Whitlash, Montana, and headed south into Idaho, near Craters of the Moon National Monument, past Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, across the Nevada Desert, into California, and ending at the little town of Algondones, Mexico. It was a real challenge and a true experience. Have a great trip.
Reader: I think Toyota and Nissan pushed it to new redlines when they equipped their new Tacoma and Frontier with 245- and 265hp engines. The only "American weapon" to take on those pickups is the all-new 230hp 4.7L V-8-equipped Dodge Dakota. The Chevy/GMC Colorado/Canyon is not powerful enough. Is Ford designing a new Ranger to take on those insanely powerful pickups? If so, are they planning to equip it with a V-8, or at least a 250hp V-6?
Editor: Unfortunately, the Ford Ranger program keeps getting pushed back and will not be ready until the 2008 model year at the earliest. We have no confirmation on what will power the next-generation Ranger, although a look at the new Sport Trac and the freshened Explorer might reveal some hints. If the next Ranger shows up on the Explorer platform, as expected, a refined version of the current 4.0L could certainly still be on the table, as well as an option box for the 4.6L SOHC Modular V-8.