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April 2012 Inbox Letters To The Editor

Posted in Features on April 1, 2012
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Best Buy Travesty
I was greatly disappointed with “Best Buys in Used 4x4s” (Jan. ’12). Not once did a Nissan appear on the list or even get an honorary mention, even though we have the Titan, Frontier, Xterra, Pathfinder, and the Hardbody in 4x4 and 4x2 trim models.

You did mention the Samurai and the Bronco, which are known to be the worst 4x4 vehicles of all time. So to not even be mentioned is a travesty. I somehow feel like your magazine is no longer portraying the best interest of what your broad range of readers want to see.
Name Withheld
Via email

Sorry you disagree with our best buy list, but we still stand behind it. The story was meant to include vehicles that would make good off-road projects. All of the Nissan 4x4s you mentioned have somewhat-delicate IFS suspensions. These are difficult and expensive to modify. And even when modified they provide lackluster performance off-road. We could not in good conscience include them because there are other, much more durable vehicles in the same class as the Nissan vehicles you mentioned.

Eight-Track Tapes?
I literally was waiting for the next issue of Four Wheeler to come in so I could cancel my subscription, but then I saw you’re the editor and I had to write in. I get Petersen’s 4-Wheel and Off-Road, Jp, and Four Wheeler and I look forward to reading them every time I get one, except for Four Wheeler. Usually there is some lame story about a couple a guys camping in the desert in a green Ford truck with a camper on the back, which is pretty lame compared to a ’72 J2000 rockin’ through Moab. You see, I am a cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, but I am from North Carolina. And a lot of people just do not get my obsession with Jeeps, muscle cars, and eight-tracks. So, I don’t get to express my love of these things easily around here. But these mags give me an escape from this place. I have a ’78 CJ-5 Renegade with a 304ci V-8 and the original tan Levi seats with a T-150 tranny. I also have an ’81 Cherokee with a 360ci V-8 and a TF727 that I miss everyday. I attached a picture so you could check ’em out and see why. I look forward to seeing your positive effect on the mag with more humor, variety, and hardcore wheelin!
3/c Alex Sullivan
Via email

Random Rant
We’re getting screwed. We don’t have a single truck in this great country of America that gets better than 27 mpg (Ford Ranger). The UK, or mother country on the other hand, has a handful of trucks and SUVs that get over 35 mpg (diesel). Domestic vendors refuse to bring these to the US. It ticks me off.

Do a story on European 35 mpg 4x4s. We deserve to know the truth. Great fuel economy is being withheld from Americans. It’s such a travesty in this time of economic dreariness.
David Smith
Eagle Mountain, UT

More Military
While there’s a limited amount of technical data that applies to my preferred mode of motorized off-roading, I typically do find something of value in every issue of Four Wheeler. I enjoyed your recent article about buying military surplus vehicles (“Drab is Good,” Jan. ’12), but you left out some additional attractive and unique choices. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of Pinzgauers, Mercedes G-Wagons, and Unimogs in your off-roading adventures. As many were former military stock, perhaps you should consider a follow-up article about other mil-spec vehicles that have found their way to North America such as my ’74 Pinzgauer 712.
David Smith
Houston, Texas

LJ or TJ Unlimited?
I really enjoy Four Wheeler and get lots of great information from it but you may want to check your statement in “Best Buys in Used 4X4s” (Jan. ’12). The ’97-’06 Wrangler TJ listing says that the Unlimited is “unofficially and incorrectly referred to as the LJ.” The model code in the VIN for my ’05 Unlimited is LJ.
Dick Grover
Via email

Funny you should mention it. I was likely the first person to notice the LJ VIN tag many years ago while crawling around under an early tester. This was long before the first Unlimited Jeeps hit the dealer lots. When I asked the Jeep engineers about it they had no idea what I was talking about. They told me the Unlimited is just a derivative of the TJ and that it does not have its own code, yet they could not explain the LJ on the VIN tag or why it only shows up on the Unlimited models. So from a historical point of view you are correct, but in Jeep’s mind, there is no such thing as an LJ.

Realistic Readings
This is my first time writing in to you guys, though I have been a subscriber for a couple of years. I’ve always liked your magazine, and now, finally, I have my own 4x4 to work on and aspire to mimicking the quality of 4x4s that you guys produce. I recently got my Dec. ’11 issue and I anxiously tore through it catching the highlights then going back to read it. I started at Inbox, and frankly, it’s kinda aggravating how much negative feedback you guys get. I have a 4x4 Suburban; it’s pretty rare around here, so how can I realistically expect a bunch of coverage? I can’t, but the projects and tech tips you guys give that fall into my year category are very helpful. The readers just need to learn to be realistic and realize that just because these are our babies doesn’t mean that everybody loves them; your magazine is, while informative, basically for entertainment. It should be looked at as such, use every bit that you can but realize going in that you may not be able to use all of it. I just wanted to write to say thanks; in spite of all the negative feedback you guys get, I really appreciate what you do for us as enthusiasts. While I can go buy Dollar Store parts for my truck, how much do you really save if you buy the same product five times instead of saving and buying a quality part once? One other thing, the Suburban on the cover of the Dec. ’11 issue, what kind of axles is he running?
Garet Voorhies
Via email

Thanks! The ’69 Suburban owned by Jeff Seely on the cover of the Dec. ’11 issue is rolling on a Dana 60 front axle and a GM 14-bolt rearend.

Time Burglar of the Month
Colin Buchanan sent us April’s Reader Letter of the Month. For his burglaring efforts we’re se r Heist is available on Blu-Ray and DVD February 21, 2012

Beef with Bolt-in Beef
I just read “Bolt-in Beef,” (Jan. ’12). It’s pretty cool that you thought of something like this and combined old and new technology. So as I started to read it you mentioned about getting some axles from back east and shipping them to the southwest. I’m not sure who you go to to get a set of axles but I got a set of Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-60 axles with 4.10 gears for $200. My cousin got a set of Dana 44 axles for $200 at the local parts yard. At the very end of the article you mention that these Mopar Power Wagon axles are a “smokin’ deal,” which I personally did not agree with. I realize my axles did not come with lockers and are not Chrysler 9.25- or 10.5-inch; mine are actually harder to find in the junkyard than any Dana 60, 44, Chrysler 9.25, or 10.5. Your people either do not do their job, suck at it, or don’t care.

You need to do some real-world articles where someone keeps track of time at junk yards, parts that can be recycled, or other options that can be had on the cheap if one is not available. I’m tired of hearing about these non-daily-drivable rigs that someone else has a shop do all the work on. Yeah it’s nice to have a tow rig, but who’s going to trust their rig? Who’s going to know their rig and its capabilities? I laugh at these articles because if something happens on the trail they have no idea how or what may need to be fixed or adjusted.
Colin Buchanan
Via email

In some aspects I agree with you about doing the work yourself. Personally, I like to do my own work when time allows, and typically so does Pete Trasborg (the writer of the story in question). However, keep in mind that we still have to put a magazine together at the end of the day. We don’t always have the luxury of working on our own rigs all the time. Now, having said that, how does the fact that this was done at a shop not offer validity to the information provided or the story overall? Are you genuinely concerned for Pete’s well-being when he’s out on the trail or on some lonely section of highway? Well, if that’s the case, rest assured that Pete could likely swap a ring and pinion on a freeway exit if needed, regardless of who installed the axles in his truck.

Just because the Land Cruiser axles are more difficult to find does not make them more valuable. The days of finding cheap, complete, and serviceable 1-ton front axles in the wrecking yard have just about ended. Most wrecking yards have figured out that the 1-ton front axles are valued by 4x4 enthusiasts and price them accordingly.

You don’t necessarily have to use brand new Power Wagon axles, but the story does show how you could upgrade your older Ram (Dodge) ½-ton truck with any of the current-generation Ram ¾- or 1-ton axles. These would certainly be more common in wrecking yards than the Power Wagon parts and all the mounting is the same.

Typically all models of truck bodies and frames rust out much more quickly in the Northeast so the ¾- and 1-ton axles from these trucks end up in wrecking yards there. Many people have capitalized on this fact and ship the heavy-duty axles out of this area to other parts of the U.S. where they are more desirable. It’s pretty well-known.

Anyway, in doing this swap you get newer stronger axles, 4.56 gears, front and rear selectable lockers, and bigger disc brakes at all four corners at a fraction of the cost of buying custom-built axles. It may not be the right solution for everyone but I believe it certainly is a viable option for someone considering a similar swap.

Where To Write
Address your correspondence to Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 or send an email to 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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