4-Wheel & Off-Road welcomes letters to the editor. Letters must include an address or a telephone number so the sender can be verified. Once verified, your name may be withheld at your request. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos. Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file.
Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Reader: I think we should be careful of how we refer to those who, whether we like it or not, are in positions of authority over us. In your (Quote/Unquote section (Drivelines, Jan. '06), President Bush is referred to as "Captain Obvious." Now I know this is a fairly commonly used expression and believe that you have respect for the President, only printing this in good fun. However, the expression is very sarcastic and whether we fully agree or disagree with what the President is doing for our country, if his statement is not immoral in any way, I think that we should be careful how we refer to him. I like to think that we four-wheelers are, for the most part, a good bunch and hope that we can maintain that position in the view of others. However, I think that you guys do a great job with the magazine and I love reading it. I just think that we should all be careful.
J Trimble Mabray Jr.
Editor: Good point, as it was done in fun, since the quote was "Don't buy gasoline if you don't need it." Seemed pretty obvious to us too, as we can't afford to buy it, and can't afford not to go to work. However, another reader was a bit more antagonistic.
Reader: As a supporter of President Bush, your Quote/Unquote episode is really childish. Evidently you don't realize that the bashing of Bush sounds just like all your other liberal media friends, and I will not renew my subscription when it is due. I realize that the loss of one subscription is no big deal to you, but I will never even pick up your mag again. I will file it under liberal media. Besides, I notice that unless you own a Jeep, Dodge, or Chevy, you don't seem to have too much time for anyone else. Well, have a nice life and I hope you get two flat tires in a heavy rainstorm on your way home.
Editor: And we're really childish? Oh, come on. We are about as far away from the liberal media as it gets. Make sure you read the whole magazine before you go on your next rant. You might be surprised.
Reader: I would like you guys to cover our fourth annual National Scrambler Event in Moab June 22-26. How can I get y'all to cover it?
New Iberia, LA
Editor: Nothing personal, but we get tons of requests like this a day. Here's how to make your event stand out amid the other requests. First, give us all the information on the first e-mail, the who, what, when, and where. In this case we assume it's the Scramblers Owners Association www.cj-8.org, but we couldn't find anything on the site. A Web site always works well, especially if we can see some great action photos of what's happened before on these events. We also work well over three months ahead of time on our mag and travel schedules, so letting us know early is paramount. For instance, I'm writing this reply just before Thanksgiving, and you won't read it in print until about the middle of March. And yes, our travel schedule right now has us booked through the end of February, and more getting added every day. You did include your phone number (which we didn't print) but e-mail works far better, since we spend so much time in front of this silver-screened devil. Drop us another line with photos (and not the 2 meg ones that take way too long to open up) and we'll see what we can do.
Reader: I am a fullsize truck kind of guy, and had my first buildup in your Readers' Rides column back in 2001. It was a simple Chevy Suburban build, a 350/350 combo with a 203 transfer case, a 14-bolt rear, 44 front with 35s, and a 7-inch lift. I had a great time with it for the last four or five years. I realized that I did most of my wheelin' in the dark, sloppy Azusa mud in SoCal, and for the most part I usually just sank the big Sub. I am a big fan of doing most of the work myself, which is why I love the Cheap Truck Challenge series.
I recently acquired a '63 International Scout, minus the drivetrain and seats. The reason I am writing is because I wanted to try the CTC. The Scout itself was free, and then I picked up a 14-bolt and a Dana 60 for $1,300. I already have a TH700R/454 combo, and recently picked up an NP205 case for $200. I traded some old parts that I had for some 16.5x44-inch Boggers and rims, so can you see where this is going? Yes, you're right, I'm already at the $1,500 limit and have not even started putting it together. What do you guys suggest? I would like to some day be able to say that my Scout has graced the pages of your awesome magazine. Keep up the great work, guys. I love the mud.
Editor: Cheap Truck Challenge is what it says, a challenge. But that shouldn't prevent you from joining us even if you go a bit over budget. We've all succumbed to that. We started the Challenge to show that real wheelers can have fun on the cheap and don't have to have a megabuck wallet-job with no inkling of how to build or fix it. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it sounds like you have some beefy parts to build the Scout, so how about selling the stuff that you don't need anymore to offset what you have already paid out? Do some creative trading and who knows, you might even make money on the deal.
Reader: I began four-wheeling a couple of years ago and your magazine inspired my first Jeep project. When I was 17, a friend and I built up a '92 Wrangler with an RE lift, BFGoodrich 33s, a Mile Marker winch, and Warn bumpers. I wheeled my pride and joy for about six months before my uncle (who is a local police officer), informed me that he arrived at an accident where a lifted Jeep had been involved. Within a couple of days, the owner called my uncle back and informed him that his insurance company would not cover any of the damages because his Jeep was lifted. Upon finding this out, I called up my insurance company on the matter and they informed me that my Jeep was not covered under my plan. I called around and found out that most auto insurance companies do not cover lifted vehicles, but if they do (for a 17-year-old) it would cost an arm and a leg. My point here is that you guys should inform your readers that not all insurance companies cover lifted rigs. People may not know this until it is too late and they will have to pay thousands of dollars in damages to someone else because their insurance won't.
Editor: Insurance companies have as many different rules as there are insurance companies. When obtaining insurance it's extremely important to notify the agent of modification to your rig, and it's your responsibility to read the coverage supplied to make sure it's what you need. Most insurance companies will supply a rider, a supplemental coverage plan that, yes, will cost you more money. But that's what insurance is for, keeping you from losing a lot of money should the bad stuff happen.
Reader: I just went through the Dec. '05 issue, and would like to make a comment on the Jeep Commander (First Drive). If you do the math, you better not have big friends riding with you because you cannot get seven 200-pounders and their gear in one safely. Why do they build vehicles and create a very real danger of overloading them? This vehicle would be overloaded with just the guys, let alone their gear! You can do this with other SUVs as well, so I am not picking on the Commander. The Commander is a good-looking ride that carries the Jeep idea well. But if you combine overloaded high-center-of-gravity vehicles with substandard tires with low air pressure, you get serious problems just waiting to happen.
Editor: You are right. No two ways about it. But getting the third row stuffed with anything other than kids would be impractical, much less 400 pounds of people. That's why the OEs make an owner's manual that specifies the weight-carrying capacity just like a pickup. And you've never seen an overloaded pickup on the highway, now have you?
Reader: Why do I never see Nissan Hardbodies in your magazine? I at least expected to see a lift kit for it in the newest issue, but I was wrong. I have been a subscriber for four years now and I have various issues from when the magazine was started up until I got a subscription, and the only Nissan Hardbody I've seen was when you guys tested it back in 1987. Why is this? Do you guys dislike them just like the Scouts you always put down when someone writes about them? Or maybe you think Toyotas are the only way to go? Not to put down Clampy or anything, but I have out-4x'd Toyotas just like that in a stock Nissan. Well, that's about all I have to yell at you guys about. Good magazine but would be great if you put some Nissans in it.
Editor: We love all 4x4 rigs, but some are more popular than others, so we see them on the trail more. Nissans are a fine rig, but Toyotas have outsold them by far, hence the amount you see. If you have a built Nissan or a group of them, let us know and maybe we can cover the event, and bring Clampy as well.
Reader: I just read your story on the Suzuki Grand Vitara (First Drive, Jan. '06). "Don't get us wrong, the [Suzuki] Grand Vitara is a valuable contender in the Soft-Roaders class, which includes the Honda CR-V, Toyota Rav4, and Jeep Liberty, but most of these vehicles are more destined to a life of being towed behind motorhomes or driven by soccer moms than one in the dirt."
Are you guys aware that the Liberty is a Jeep, and there are clubs and off-road groups all over the nation dedicated to wheeling the KJ (Liberty)? There is even an increasingly larger aftermarket following for the KJ, and there are people out there who have been wheeling the KJ since it came out. For instance, check out www.lostkjs.com sometime. I'm disappointed that you guys don't do your homework. The KJ is nowhere near being in the same category as a Ford Escape or Honda CR-V. Many of us KJ guys successfully follow the TJ and YJ guys on the trails every time we go out. I just wish you would spend enough time with the KJ to understand and respect it for what it is. It might not have a solid axle up front, but it's still a Jeep!
Editor: How many of your Libertys hit the trail bone stock and follow the TJ and YJ guys? This story was about how manufacturers are making sissified SUVs and calling them off-roaders. With enough time and money, any vehicle can be made to go off road, but it's when the OEs try to feed us cars called trucks that we get edgey.