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July 2011 Inbox - Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on July 1, 2011
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Into the Valley of Death
I’ve been contracted by a company to put together drives to some of the hottest, highest, and coldest roads on the planet, and one option for the hottest is Death Valley.

We would want to visit it during the hottest time of year and try and get to the hottest place, or one that has recorded the highest temperatures. I know it holds the record for the highest temperature in all of the Americas.

Do you know if it’s possible to explore the area off-road? Are there any particularly challenging routes/historical trails, and do you know any experienced guides that could lead us across?
Mac MacKenney
Somewhere in AK

The Death Valley area is a treasure trove of Western Americana and great wheeling. Rather than run down a (very, very long) laundry list of our favorite trails there, log onto, enter “Death Valley” in the search window, and you can read all about our own recent exploits there. We’d be extremely careful about wheeling there in the summer months, however. Temperatures in the 115- to 120-degree range are not uncommon, and people who aren’t sufficiently prepared still get lost (forget about cell phone service, in other words) and die out there from time to time. Since you’re from Alaska, we assume you know how to gear up for extreme weather, but for what it’s worth, we prefer to visit the Valley in the late-winter months, when temperatures are balmy and very few tourists are around. Guides? We can’t recommend anyone in particular (besides ourselves), but you might consider picking up a copy of Death Valley SUV Trails by Roger Mitchell, which covers 46 wheeling destinations in and around the Valley.

Mud Tire Tribute
Regarding Robin Stover’s “Massive Mud Tire Shootout” (April ’11): Bravo! That was the most conclusive and well put-together article about tires in 25 years. It was ballsy, to the point, and genuine, without the feel of advertiser influence. Give that boy a raise.
Jeff Mello
Danville, CA

New Pentastar Wrangler
I’m waiting for the ’12 Jeep Wrangler with the new Pentastar V-6. I was so happy to see it confirmed in RPM (April ’11). I wrote you last year about whether this was the best vehicle to deal with general conditions in the San Bernardino Mountains and was happy to see my research was pretty spot-on, but I still need some more help. I want to lift this new Jeep to clear over at least a foot of unplowed snow, but I see that the best way to keep it streetable is to put the biggest tires on with the least amount of suspension lift to increase clearance while avoiding any suspension/steering problems—not to mention a lower center of gravity. What’s the best way to add 35- or 37-inch tires without the need for excessive lift, keep it legal on the road, and keep it within the realm of a working man’s budget?
Sean Miller
Lake Arrowhead, CA

Most 4-inch suspension kits currently on the market for the JK can provide room for 35-inch tires with no fender trimming, and 37s if you’re willing to lose a little fender trim or (cooler yet) convert to tube fenders. Our Project ’Con Artist JK will be receiving a new 4-inch lift in an upcoming issue, so stick around. And the new engine for 2012 is a big improvement over the old minivan motor, so if you can afford to buy a new Wrangler, it’ll be worth the wait.

Dana 35 Alternative for YJ
I installed a SpynTec hub conversion kit on my ’89 YJ. Now I’m looking for a Dana 35 rear axle with 5-on-5 ½ spacing. Can you help me out?
Kirk Sandifer
Bridgeville, CA

Why would you want one? It functions pretty well as a doorstop—and if you ever install bigger tires and wheels, that will be its eventual fate—but otherwise, there are plenty of better options for your Jeep.

How about shopping for a Ford 9-inch instead? It’s got the wheel bolt pattern you want (regardless of model year or application), it’s a lot stronger than a 35, they’re not hard to find in junkyards, and if you can score a version from an early-model Bronco, it’s almost a direct bolt-in to your YJ; relocate the spring perches, fab up some new shock mounts, and you’re pretty much done. We’d probably recommend a ’74-’86 Ford truck version instead; it’ll need to be shortened and your rear driveshaft lengthened, but you’ll get beefier axleshafts and bearings, and because it was widely used for so many years, everyone makes lockers and gears for it.

In Search of Missing Jeeps
I read and thoroughly enjoyed your articles “The Jeep at 70” in your February and March ’11 issues. When I saw the note at the end of the article in the March issue that it would continue, I was looking forward to it. Due to surgery, I needed to send a family member in search of the April issue. When they found it and brought it to my hospital room, I was very disappointed to see that the feature didn’t continue as you stated it would. Why the misinformation?
Ed Linn
San Jose, CA

Sometimes, due to space constraints, we need to make last-minute revisions to our story line-up. In that case, the addition of some last-minute ads dictated that we shave off a few pages of editorial shortly before going to press, and as a result, “The Jeep at 70” was held out and pushed back to the May ’11 issue. Our apologies to all for any inconvenience.

Molasses in January
I have exclusive spy shots of the brand-new Land Rover LRX in full camouflage, though it’s clearly identifiable when scrutinized in comparison to the concept pictures available from Land Rover’s website. Please let me know if you are interested in purchasing these four pictures taken clearly and from all angles.
Chris Banville
Southington, CT

Whoever your spies are, they must be sending you their photos by Conestoga wagon. The LRX, now officially branded as the Evoque, made its public debut at the L.A. Auto Show seven months ago and goes on sale in a couple of months for the 2012 model year. FW

Where To Write
Address your correspondence to: Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245. All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department can also be reached through the website at Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.

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