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June 1998 Letters To The Editor

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Posted June 1, 1998

Early Broncos, GM Alternators, Drivetrain Tricks, and More!

Early Bronco V-8s Dear Four Wheeler, In the April '98 "Letters," you stated that the 302 V-8 was offered in early-model Ford Broncos from the beginning, but the 302 wasn't offered for at least two years after its introduction. As I understand it, the 289 V-8 was offered sometime in mid-'66, with the 302 first offered in March '68.
Lenton Deats
Florissant, MO

Pink On The Cover
Dear Four Wheeler, Stop using pink for the color of the title on your magazines! Pink is a girlish color. Trucks are manly. "Pink'' and "Truck'' are not compatible. Anyway, I'm 15 and coming to the age of driving. I want to buy a 4x4 truck. What should I start out with? This vehicle will be my main transportation on-road, but I also plan to take it on the trails. I want something cheap as well. Also, what suspension kit did you put on Project Teal J?
Steve Kettler
via the Internet

Thanks for the cover tips; however, the idea behind using pink is to catch your eye, and it sounds like we did.

As to an inexpensive 4x4 for four wheeling, your best buys would probably be an older (15- to 20-year-old) 1/2-ton pickup. They tend to be reasonably priced, and boast workable platforms for experience, education and experimentation.

Our beloved project Teal J uses a 3-inch suspension kit from Teraflex (Dept. FW, 7241 S. 700 W., Midvale, UT 84047, 888/837-2359,, along with a set of coil-spring spacers, and a set of Tera's grease-fitted twisty arms.

What's A "Goofy Leaf''?
Dear Sirs, I just read the "Top Truck Suspensions" story (March '98), and one of the trucks uses what's called a "goofy leaf." What is that? How roadworthy is it? If I set one up, do I need a track bar? Does anyone make a kit I can order for my '95 Toyota?
Jason Johnson
Millfield, OH

Bill Shea's custom-extended rock buggy uses a rear leaf/multi-link setup. Where conventional Jeep leaf springs run a rear shackle connecting the spring pack to the frame, Bill's "flatfender'' runs a rear shackle connected to a top and bottom leaf-one that extends to and attaches to the frame, the other a conventional spring pack attached to the axle. Because there's more room for flex, there needs to be some other means of locating or holding the rearend. Billy uses two linking rods attached to the top of the Dana 60 to two forward points on the frame-a four-link/leaf spring combination, if you will. As you might expect from a purpose-built Arizona wash runner, pavement stability is not its main design priority. For a daily-driven 4x4, this would be an extreme treatment.

As far as your Toyota goes . . . we wouldn't recommend it, unless you're an ace fabricator who doesn't mind swapping out his entire IFS frontend for a live axle.

Wide World Of Wheels
Dear Editor, I'm about to install 33x12.50R15 tires on 8-inch rims on my Jeep Wrangler. My question is about the wheels, because they have only two inches of backspacing. Will I have steering problems? My truck has a 2-inch body lift and add-a-leaves.
via the Internet

You sure picked the right month to write us. The short answer is that your new wheel and tire combination, with only two inches of backspacing, will most likely not interfere with the steering linkage. However, the much heavier wheels and tires will give your steering wheel a different feel, as well as significantly stressing your steering pump (assuming you're using the stock part).

From what you describe, you'll have about four inches of tread inside the mounting surface of the axle, leaving over eight inches of tread outside, with at least a couple of inches sticking outside the fenderwell. As a consequence, you'll be most vulnerable to tire rub during maximum articulation. A better choice might be to move to a narrower tire, choose a rim with a 3.5- or 4-inch backspacing (similar to your stock backspacing), or both. Several manufacturers make 33x10.50 (even 33x9.50) tires.

Last year, we listed a few manufacturers and wheel types that offered multiple backspacing choices ("Offsets for your 4x4," May '97).

Fwoty Quarter-Mile Times
Dear Editor, I just decided to upgrade my '96 5.2-liter Grand Cherokee and found your 1998 Four Wheeler of the Year article (Feb. '98) interesting. Acceleration and handling are the most important features to me, followed by styling, inside and out. I drove the new Durango, Explorer, and Blazer, but the 5.9 Grand Cherokee Limited made the choice an easy one.

My question centers around the 7.9-second 0-60mph time you reported. Jeep claims 7.3 seconds on page 40 of The Jeep Book. I even read another report where the 5.9 Grand Cherokee made 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds. I understand that every unit is unique, but I find it hard to believe acceleration can differ 1.1 seconds. I also own two Dodge Vipers-a '96 RT10 and a '97 GTS-and their reported accelerations differed only by 0.3 second, depending on which magazine did the report. Understanding driver, traction, and temperature variables, what gives?
Fred Kinder
via the Internet

You've considered all the variables except altitude. Our test facility is 2,640 feet above sea level in the California high desert. The altitude, warm air, and gusty winds (particularly in the winter months, when we do most of our new-vehicle tests) combined with very new, not-yet-broken-in powerplants, ensures that our published times will be some of the slowest around. The NHRA correction factor for this altitude is .9675, which would make our GC acceleration time about three-tenths of a second faster at sea level, absent other factors.

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