The Passion of Customizing Vehicles
Automotive and truck publications exist because there are readers who are passionate about vehicles. This passion goes beyond mere ownership, it extends into the quest to personalize and improve these vehicles, making them an extension of the owner's psyche.
A visit to SEMA this year shows that there is an explosion of media, including print, broadcasting, and Internet covering the vehicular lifestyle. It seemed you couldn't walk three feet without running into a camera crew shooting footage for something or other. In one of the main aisles there was a woman talking, looking into space with no one around her. I watched and listened for a minute as she talked about SEMA and the exhibits - with no one anywhere near her except me. Thinking she might not be running on all cylinders, I approached her and asked if she was O.K. She broke off, shot me an exasperated look, and yelled, "Cut!" I then realized there was a camera crew shooting her from a distance.
There wouldn't be this kind of coverage if vehicles didn't mean so much to so many. Some argue that customizing vehicles is the only reason enthusiasts exist. I disagree. There are other reasons to be an enthusiast, especially a 4x4 enthusiast.
I got interested in modifying vehicles so I could get further into the backcountry when the going got tough. As a teenager, during the week, I'd read my Four Wheeler magazines and haunt the school library, reading old copies of Desert Magazine, Russ Leadabrand guidebooks, and history books about mining and pioneer history. On the weekend, I'd head out on motorcycle or in a truck and search for ghost towns, abandoned mines, or lost treasures. I found a treasure, but it had nothing to do with gold. It was the fun I had exploring, discovering the unknown, camping, and enjoying this beautiful planet we live on.
I've never lost the desire to explore the backcountry and I think there are many of you who feel the same way. It's hard to describe the excitement of planning a trip, perusing maps, Google Earth, old reports and stories, getting equipment together and stowing it in the vehicle, then heading out late at night or early in the morning for another adventure. Arriving at the dirt and getting out to lock the hubs (yes, some of us still do that), then taking a deep breath of fresh air while inspecting the trail heading into the distant mountains - it doesn't get much better than that.
There are many reasons we like vehicles, but only one is the satisfaction gained in building a project and looking at it in the garage. Using our vehicles for what they are built is a lifestyle that we cover in the pages of 4WD&SU. We plan to cover even more of that lifestyle, including longer North American adventure trips, backcountry excursions, trail rides and club events. We're also thinking about some kind of event where we can meet you and have a good time in the outback, enjoying our 4x4s together.
Thanks, and keep reading!