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October 2011 4Word - Editorial

Posted in Features on October 1, 2011
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We’ve changed our name! After a couple of decades, 4Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine is now 4Wheel Drive Magazine. The “sport utility” portion of the title was confusing people, even at Source Interlink Media, our parent corporation. Every time we wrote about trucks or a 4x4 vehicle that wasn’t a utility or sport utility vehicle, we’d hear about how we were supposed to cover sport utilities only. That’s not true.

From the beginning, we’ve been interested in anything that has all four wheels driven, whether it’s a truck, utility vehicle, or…Yes, we cover Jeeps, Land Cruisers, Broncos, Samurais, and even Scouts, but that doesn’t preclude us from writing about or doing other 4x4 project vehicles, such as trucks of any size. The Ford Raptor is a superb truck that’s perfect for high-speed backcountry exploring, and I’ve just procured a 2011 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 4x4 with 5.3L V-8 that’s going to be built into a backcountry-exploring truck in these pages.

Back in the day, Tom McMullen had approached me about becoming editor of his 4x4 magazine. It had started as 4WD Action, and Tom said his partner, Ken Yee, wanted to shut the title down. I thought there needed to be a magazine dedicated to our four-wheeling niche: backcountry exploring for individuals, families, and clubs, plus the vehicles able to do it — minus the bikini girls. After all, we weren’t Playboy or Sports Illustrated. After some whining about no sex in the magazine, he told me we should come up with a name and logo, and then run with it.

After doing some thinking, I thought the title should simply be 4Wheel Drive Magazine. Tom suggested that since sport utility vehicles were all the rage, we should add that to the name. As it’s never advisable to argue with the boss, especially one who just handed you your dream job, I said that would be fine with me, except we should add the ampersand so that we could cover anything 4x4. Tom agreed, and I shortly showed him the logo I had designed. 4WD&SU was born.

After a couple of months, John Stewart, then editor of Four Wheeler magazine, called and told me that, while he applauded my efforts at covering the family/club/backcountry exploring world of 4-wheel drive, it would never fly. He said advertisers wouldn’t buy into it. I respected John, but told him we would just have to see. I heard the same, or similar, from many industry insiders. Two years later, I ran into John at the SEMA Show. He said, “I guess I have to eat my words.” Yes, 4WD&SU was successful. So successful, in fact, that other magazines were ditching chrome shock features and covering the backcountry, too.

As for Tom’s suggestion about adding “sport utility” to the name, many called (and still call) 4WD&SU just Sport Utility Magazine, so Tom’s contribution was valid. Unfortunately, in today’s society, sport utility has become a bad term. Notice that very few manufacturers call their vehicles sport utes anymore. They have crossovers, cross vehicles, etc., but there are no sport utilities to be found. This is stupid, but a fact nevertheless. We’ll get used to calling our title 4Wheel Drive Magazine.

I’d like to thank our loyal readers over the years. You’re the reason we do what we do, and all the staff appreciate your loyalty. Other than the title change (and maybe some art/layout changes), our content will remain the same. We’ll continue to cover individual/family/club backcountry exploring and the vehicles that do it. We plan to do more exploring, finding new places to go. Many of our favorite places are now closed, or so crowded that it’s hard to get away from it all when off-roading there.

4Wheel Drive Magazine it now is. Did I mention it’s easier to write than 4Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine? It is.

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