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Reader: I just read your "Letter of the Month" (July '06) and can't believe it. If this is the new attitude of the day, our sport and hobby as we know it will go away. It's up to the more experienced drivers to help and teach the rookies who don't know the proper etiquette. As your skills grow, you modify the vehicle to your skill level. It's not up to the car manufacturers to build rock buggies or trail vehicles with flexy suspensions and 37-inch tires. Just think how ugly the highways would be, let alone the trails, if the newcomers got their hands on such rides.
Driver X says he was "taught by the finest of the old guard," that he's of a dying breed. With the attitude he has, I hope he is a dying breed. I guess he didn't learn enough from his mentors. It's up to the old guard to pass along our knowledge to the new guard for the future of our favorite pastime. We didn't come into four-wheeling knowing it all. For when we think we really do know it all, something ugly is going to happen to us or someone else. My guess is Driver X wouldn't like the Xterra that you tested in that issue, or the Jeep TJ, the Unlimited Rubicon, or the new FJ Cruiser. Thanks much for listening.
Reader: I have a real bone to pick with you guys and the Einstein-"Driver X"-you made your July '06 Letter of the Month.
By the third paragraph, X starts to carry on about all his self-proclaimed knowledge, skill, and ability. This bozo does nothing for our sport. Berating the newbies who are at least out there trying to have some fun and gain some experience is only going weaken our future. How does this self-proclaimed "Messiah of the Dirt" think his early mentors felt about him when he rolled up in his parents' Suburban the first time for some unknown wheeling? We all have to learn somewhere and sometime, so why can't X drop his ego and be a positive role model for the up-and-coming 'wheelers?
Granted, most of the new vehicles won't live long on any radical trails, but 95 percent of all 4x4s never leave the pavement and the manufacturers know this. If there was a viable market for lifted, locked, trail-ready vehicles, the manufacturers would be building them right now.
Anyone remember the "Muscle Car Wars" of the '60s? How about the diesel truck wars going on today? These were/are markets that have the potential to make the OEMs a lot of money. The more Rubicons, Power Wagons, and Land Cruisers that are sold, the more the OEMs will consider making them better.
One thing I see missing today that the old guard kept with them was having fun! Everyone today wants to have the biggest, baddest, most radical machine so he can outdo everyone else. Do you think the original gang that made the first Easter Jeep Safari were so bent up about trying to outdo everyone else? No, they were just a bunch of people getting together to be outside and having a good time. I think we need to get back to the "fun first" idea.
Oklahoma City, OK
Editor: For the record, we basically agree with you. We were newbies once too, and we learned-mostly, since we're still learning new tricks all the time-by trial and error (crunch, crash, snap), by asking questions ("What's that lever next to the tranny shifter for?"), and by watching skilled 'wheelers on the trail, and emulating what they did as our own skills gradually improved.
On the other hand, we don't want this column to simply be an amen corner of like believers, so we encourage letters of differing views, especially when they are strongly held and emphatically expressed, like Racer X's. (We'll also admit he got our attention with his bazooka-wielding team of lawyers.) And he does raise a good point-we've seen novice 'wheelers stuck on the trail, and clogging traffic, with no recovery gear or spare parts, or even a jack or a roll of duct tape to help them. Hey, it happened to us a time or two when we were first starting out and learning as we went. That's an oversight that folks like us can hopefully help to remedy on the trail, and in magazines such as this.