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September 2007 4Word - Editorial

Posted in Features on July 1, 2007
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There are certain nostalgic, automotive-related images that stick with a guy and never fail to bring out strong feelings and emotions. For me, it's the noxious smell of a slightly mistuned carbureted engine (I love it), the interior stink of an old car, the sticky feeling of Gasgacinch on the fingers, the sound of scraping auto metal and trim plastic against a wet and muddy gravel bank, and the thought of the first cheap set of tools I ever bought.

Old SUVs, trucks, and Jeeps - there is no question we have to own them. If we didn't, we wouldn't have a hood to hide our heads under at night. Without them, things could be far worse as we could find ourselves on the couch each night watching girlie drivel like Grey's Anatomy or Survivor.

In some sense, we use these heaps as a refuge and shelter far removed from the daily grind. They also keep some of us out from under foot of those around us, and who couldn't appreciate that? Maybe your better half! Most of you probably hear complaints like "You never spend time with me because of that stupid Jeep!" Of course we never hear the things we want to hear: "Get the heck out of my kitchen and go work on that Jeep of yours!"

Sometimes these hunks of metal and rubber miraculously come to life with a clatter, a bang, a few puffs of smoke, and some fire. When the engine's dramatic jump-start to life ends a few revolutions later, the elation you just felt sticks with you because you know you can get it running again. Sometimes, though, it sinks to a cold feeling of despair - you may have just wrecked a few hundred bucks worth of precious engine parts. What's your better half going to say now? Well, don't despair for long. We recommend you don't tell her and then buy replacements with the little pieces of paycheck you've been squirreling away. What she won't know won't hurt her, right?

There's nothing like settling in at night to read a best-selling shop manual or the latest issue of your favorite magazine. I used to purchase magazines just to find out what new parts were out there. Back then, the ads were like one-page minicatalogs. I would spend hours looking at all the shiny new components in the odd black-and-white ads. My favorite magazines were a couple of the leading Volkswagen titles (and let's not forget Surfer and Surfing). I know what you're thinking so go ahead and laugh, but wrenching on a Bug is a great way to learn as a young kid. I taught myself basic auto mechanics simply by reading magazines and manuals and trying out what I'd read on the VW. As a teenager, I built my first engine on my bedroom floor. I hope some of you are learning from this magazine the way I learned from other titles all those years ago.

Often, we get settled in our ways and it's hard to appreciate new things after having lived with the old things for so long. This is especially true if it's something we're paying for. I know many of you have nostalgic and familiar feelings for 4WD&SU, but it's had the same look and feel for perhaps the last 7 or 8 years. In the coming months, I will be implementing some design and layout changes in the magazine. I'm throwing around ideas to clean up the magazine to make more room for adventure and technical stories as well as larger photos. I think I've come up with some great concepts that I think you'll enjoy. If you have any thoughts, concerns, or suggestions please e-mail me.

And if you're wondering about the old '61 Bug, it ran perfect for years without a single oil leak but was totaled by a drunk driver while parked on the side of the road. And yes, I still have a fondness for VWs.

Happy Trails,
Kevin McNulty

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