I’ve always been a guy who couldn’t leave any vehicle alone. In fact, I’ll probably never own a vehicle I can’t modify in some way. It’s not that I don’t believe vehicle manufacturers do a great job from the start; it’s just that I know that vehicles are built for the masses. If manufacturers were building niche vehicles for select groups of drivers, I know the outcomes would be very different (examples: Raptor F-150, Jeep Wrangler Rubicon).
But as far as I’m aware, there is no “perfect” niche truck built for me…yet.
In the mean time, I (like millions of other truck owners) am just going to have to go about modifying my own vehicle to get it a little closer to what I want—hopefully starting with an excellent platform provided by a vehicle manufacturer that has spent millions of dollars on research and design and put in a whole heck of a lot more thought and planning than I put into my own version.
Thankfully, (for me and others around me) my modification habits have grown a little more subtle than they were when I was a newbie driver. I have to admit that—at one time when I was much younger—there wasn’t a product built that would fit on my truck that I didn’t want. Anything I could afford and could install…I wanted it. I remember even installing one of those stupid barefoot gas pedal covers. And yes, I used to have the red (pink after a day in the sun) twin-blade windshield wipers on my red truck. I think my real low was when I bought a can of spray-on chrome.
I was just lucky that my lack of funds severely regulated how much junk I bought for my trucks back then. No doubt I would have been the guy on the highway who you see and think to yourself, Dang, that guy just walked down the aisles at Pep Boys with a bolt-on crap magnet.
But as funds increased over time, so did taste, thankfully. (I shudder to think what my 17-year-old self would have done with a full-time paycheck and no bills. Right now I’m picturing a black chrome painted Viper on 22s with a CB antenna, Hellas on the front, and of course dual-blade wipers.)
These days I find myself doing things like leaving stock bumpers on trucks and not ripping out factory stereos for quadruple-subwoofer systems that could rattle fillings out of teeth. It makes me question myself as a modifier, but I’d like to think that I modify with a little more knowledge and wisdom than I used to. One thing I’ve definitely learned is that it’s hard to beat factory equipment for compatibility and longevity. We may be able to make it faster, louder, and bigger, but good luck to any individual that thinks that we can put it together better than an OEM can.
I still like to modify everything; that hasn’t changed. But nowadays I try to keep the mods toned down and have become a fan of making them less noticeable.
Subtlety rules. What’s cooler than a truck that looks stock but packs an animal underneath?
Farewell to the Man Behind the Curtain
There are number of people who make this magazine happen—more than just the names you see on the top of articles. Two in particular have their fingers in more stories than anyone else under the OFF-ROAD title: art director Brad Crowder and managing editor Patrick Vuong.
While Brad is continuing on with us (he’s a glutton for punishment), we’re losing Patrick, who has been integral in story contributions and making sure you have a nicely laid-out magazine with as few of mistakes as possible. He carefully pulled the correct strings for six years as OFF-ROAD’s managing editor, and it won’t be the same without him. We wish him the best, though, as he moves on to be a senior editor at Recoil magazine. Good luck, Patrick—though we know you won’t need it.