Not So Obvious
You missed two obvious picks for your article about post-apocalyptic 4x4 options (“Mobile Fortress,” Dec. ’12). How about the Mercedes G-Wagon and the Pinzgauer? Both are readily available in the United States with plenty of options for spare parts sources. The Pinzgauers that you would commonly come across in the U.S. usually date from the 1972 to 1976 with the G-Wagons being a bit more current. Of course you can go to a Mercedes dealer and score a new one but it will be at or about $100,000 and it probably won’t be seeing much off-road action as a result, fun article otherwise.
I don’t know about you but when I’m driving down the post-apocalyptic highway I want to be behind the wheel of something that is super easy to find parts for. Let’s say the water pump in my G-Wagon goes out, or I roast a wheel bearing in my Pinzgauer, I’m pretty sure I can’t just roll right into any Johnny’s Auto Parts store and find a spare on the shelf. Maybe I could special order it from the zombie behind the counter?
New TTC Rules Fan
First off, great magazine. I have been reading on and off for years. Sure, a few things you guys have said and done has angered me, but I always continue to read. I just read the new Top Truck Challenge rules (www.fourwheeler.com/ttcrules) and I had to write in for the first time and say great idea! I have nothing against buggies, but I couldn’t care less to read about them. I just love to see what people can create from a base model 4x4. I also love the idea of adding some agility sections to the course. I too believe that the best all-around rig should win, not the highest horsepower with the biggest tires. Anyway, I know you guys are going to get flamed, but know that people like me really appreciate the change of view!
Low Buck Fanatic
Despite what anyone tells us, we have been suffering from a recession since 2008. I keep hoping the four-wheel drive mags would change their articles to reflect our hard times. I certainly don’t want to spend months reading about someone installing a Viper motor in a Durango! Nothing personal against a Durango but how often do you ever even see one on the trail?! Even reading about putting a V-10 in something as popular as a Jeep or a buggy doesn’t interest me because of the cost involved. In the December ’12 issue you ran a feature about a zombie-ready Jeep (“Recon Wrangler”), which had an estimated value of $250,000. Are you guys insane? And you go on to write about a Ram truck (“Doomsday Ram”) with an estimated value of $100,000. I don’t even waste brain cells to dream about this stuff.
Now let’s move on to the lighting article (“High Output Lights”). It was informative and interesting until I looked at the MSRP. Almost $1,000 for a set of headlights that could get destroyed the first time out on a trail. Okay, I haven’t busted a headlight (yet) on the trail but as soon as the thieves learn the value of these headlights they will be disappearing like Coronas after a long day on the trail. Hey, maybe I’m too old school but I just can’t believe there are that many people out there that can afford this type of stuff, especially during these hard times. I’d like to see you guys go back to the type of stuff they wrote about in the ’80s. Stuff like hitting the salvage yards for an old air-conditioning compressor and turning it into a cheap, great-working air compressor. Please bring back the idea of paying readers for great cheap fixes. How about a few issues dedicated to improvements that didn’t work out and what you would do differently?
How To Buy TTCC Video
I have been trying to order the ’12 Top Truck Champions’ Challenge Video (and a few older DVDs) from 4 Wheel Parts, but the link is broken. I have emailed them to let them know the problem, but haven’t heard back and the link is still broken. I am not sure what you can do at Four Wheeler to repair it, but I thought I would ask anyway. I am looking forward to eventually purchasing the DVDs.
The link should be working now. You can go to www.4wheelparts.com to purchase the ’12 Top Truck Champions’ Challenge video as well as older TTC DVDs.
In “Mobile Fortress,” (Dec. ’12), you state “In the U.S. the Unimog was never available new from Mercedes-Benz.”
What about the ’05 U500 in my driveway with the Unicat camper that I bought new (the chassis) at a dealer two miles from my house in Anchorage, Alaska, for $125,000? Several hundred were sold new in North America from 2003 to 2006. You need to publish a retraction.
Thanks for the note, but what we wrote is indeed accurate. You kind of misread the quote. No matter how badly you may want to, you can’t buy a Unimog from a Mercedes-Benz dealer. And if you do, you have pulled some magnificent strings and know people in high places. Unicat (www.unicat.net/en/) imports the Unimog chassis and converts them into high-dollar, capable motorhomes; however, Unicat is not a Mercedes-Benz dealership.
Diesel Power Wagon Rebuttal
Editor John Cappa’s response in Techline (Jan. ’13) was not convincing. I agree that the weight of the 6.7L Cummins would reduce the vehicle’s drivability in very rough terrain. However, contrary to his unsupported generalization that “…the added weight would simply ruin the vehicle’s off-road performance at any kind of speed…” the optional 4.10 gears would make the truck an ideal off-road expedition vehicle over anything but the most extreme terrain. The problem of the stock Power Wagon winch being incompatible with the intercooler is easily overcome by installing an aftermarket front or rear winch bumper, of which there are many to choose from.
In addition to the diesel’s better fuel economy, another important advantage of the Cummins is the ability to greatly increase the fuel capacity, and thus the range. The extreme volatility of gasoline makes it hazardous to transport quantities that diesel trucks can easily carry safely, as evidenced by the availability of aftermarket diesel fuel tanks that have nearly twice the capacity of the stock tanks. And if I wanted to carry even more additional fuel in 5-gallon containers I would much rather it be diesel fuel than gasoline.
My next off-road vehicle will be a Power Wagonized 6.7L Cummins Ram.
Las Vegas, NV
It may seem like a slam dunk of an idea, but as I had mentioned in that response there are many reasons the Ram Power Wagon is not offered with the Cummins engine. The more specialized the parts required to build a truck like that are, the less likely the factory is to offer it.
The Power Wagon actually has 4.56 gears, not 4.10s, and they are not optional. They would be pretty deep for the stock-size tires on a Cummins truck. That is an easy fix though, the truck could be offered with 4.10s, assuming there isn’t a differential carrier split that would keep you from using the existing lockers. However, the rear axle in the gas Power Wagon is different (smaller) than the rear axle in a diesel Ram 2500. So if Ram were to maintain the towing and cargo capacity of the diesel truck, the company would have to develop another electric locker for the larger diesel rear axle.
We have asked the Ram guys why there wasn’t a diesel Power Wagon many times. We were told that they wouldn’t be able to maintain the expected off-road capabilities and that there would be significant packaging issues including weight distribution and impact testing concerns. They cited the same reasons I mentioned in the Techline response.
The OEs have to meet significantly more stringent safety standards than the aftermarket manufacturers. Simply installing an aftermarket bumper/winch mount would certainly alter the impact testing, causing the vehicle to not meet the government crash standards.
Now, having been behind the wheel of both a diesel and gas Ram 2500 on- and off-road, I can without a doubt say that you do notice the additional weight of the big Cummins diesel. It was for sure a hindrance over every off-road obstacle we encountered; both while driving fast and slow. Of course you can build your own diesel Power Wagon using aftermarket parts. You can even counter some of the handling quirks of the heavy diesel engine with properly valved high-end shocks, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for Ram to offer it any time soon, if ever.
Barn Find Fan Club
So I just finished reading “Barn Find Bonanza,” (Jan. ’13) and it was great! But I have a question to ask. In January 2012 I bought an ’89 Dodge Ram W150 (4x4) with a 360ci V-8 that needed a ton of work. In six months it received $5,000 worth of work (my dad and I paid for parts and stuff). I did all the bodywork and motor work myself. We had a mechanic install all new brakes and brake lines, a rebuilt steering box, four new shocks, and a radiator. Then finally we painted it. What I want to know is if you are still featuring barn finds? I would be elated to see my truck in Four Wheeler.
You can send your barn finds and reader rebuilds in to Four Wheeler, C/O Barn Finds, 2970 N. Ontario St., Burbank, CA 91504. Or you can email them with Barn Find in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wanted to say thanks for the props in the latest issue (“Rigs to Remember,” Jan. ’13). You guys have really brought some new life to Four Wheeler, keep it up!
Randy Ellis Design, Inc.
Letter Of The Month
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m sending you this picture to let our brave men and women know they are not forgotten! I wish I was financially able to “hang out” at local airports to greet our soldiers as they come off the plane, but since I cannot, I painted this wheel cover, on the back of my TJ to let them know I appreciate their efforts!
For thinking about someone other than himself during the holidays, we are sending Brad his very own copy of End of Watch. Police officers (Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena) patrol the mean streets of South Central Los Angeles in this riveting portrait of the young cops who risk their lives and family every day. End of Watch comes to Blu-ray, DVD, Ultraviolet, and digital download this January. www.endofwatchthefilm.com?>
Where To Write
Address your correspondence to Four Wheeler, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 or send an email to email@example.com. 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 www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.