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Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Reader: I just read my Apr. '06 edition of 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine and saw the article on the new '07 Jeep JK Wrangler. The article was quite informative and makes me want to buy the new Rubicon when it hits the showroom floor. However, the article told me everything I needed to know except for one thing. What is the MSRP for the new Rubicon?
Editor: We scooped all the other mags with this story, but the price of the new JK wasn't available at that time, nor is it available yet. We figure the price will be very close to current Wranglers, and pricing will probably be released around October when the JK goes on sale.
Reader: I am pretty disappointed with the lack of education your editor has on the Isuzu Vehicross ("Inbox," Feb. '06) so let me educate him. Here are a few sites where aftermarket Vehicross accessories are sold: http://independent4x.com, www.darlington_offroad.com, and www.tonemonday.com/vxparts.html. Now that you have scrolled through and seen that all the necessary parts for a build are already available, let me say that there are many more than 27 Vehicrosses on the trail, in fact take a look at this: www.vehicross.info/gallery/ showphoto.php?photo=1623. That is just the amount of people who were able to show up for 'ZuZoo '03. Yes, there has not been a solid axle swap yet, but there is one in progress, and here is a great site with a wealth of Vehicross knowledge: www.vehicross.info.
By now you should be thinking to yourself...why hasn't one of these awesome rare off-roading gems seen the cover of Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine? And to be honest, I don't know why not either. Jeeps are a dime a dozen in any 4x4 magazine along with every part imaginable that you can bolt right on, and the reason is due to all the exposure they get. Since all the 4x4 magazines seem to neglect Isuzu as an off-roading machine, there is not much for the aftermarket. If some magazine had the balls to put something else besides Jeeps, Fords, Chevys, and Toyotas on the cover, there might be people who would think outside this narrow-minded box of mainstream off-roaders and venture on to much different projects than the ones we see in every magazine over and over and over again.
And since the editor mentioned something about a Vehicross maybe making the cover if it was a good enough action shot, I have attached several action shots of different rides that could be on the cover of a magazine.
I hope that you will actually look through this stuff as it took me two hours at work to find everything. The rides in the pictures are all members of www.vehicross.info.
Editor: OK, Eric, we win. There were only 17 Vehicrosses in the photo, not 27. But still, that amount on the trail is extremely impressive, as are the infrastructure and perseverance of your group. However, I do take issue with your assertion that it's the magazines fault that there isn't a large aftermarket parts following because we neglect these fine rides. I believe it's simple economics. For instance, look at the number of Vehicrosses produced versus the amount of Jeeps produced. If I were a businessman, I'd rather sell one $10 widget to every Jeeper than to every Isuzu driver.
Reader: I had a lapse in my subscription while I was finishing grad school (read: broke) and think I missed something. What happened to the Ultimate Taco? All I heard about it after the Ultimate Adventure last year was the wrapup telling about the techy gizmos. Your first installment of the buildup said you would have it for two years to thrash before returning it to Toyota. I did a little looking online, and found different stories that lead to nothing, when on some Web site I found the picture of a rolled Taco! What happened? I think this deserves a story about that particular outing.
Editor: Actually, Tech Editor Fred Williams rolled it on flat ground while testing suspension deflection. And you can see the results of the carnage in the Apr. '06 edition where we show you all about vehicle recovery and such. We still have the rig, and will update the new features and its history in a future edition as well.
Reader: I've been subscribing to your magazine for about 10 years. It's a great mag, and I look forward to reading it every month. I was watching a rerun of Seinfeld and there is a scene where George is on the street in front of one of those sidewalk newsstands and there is a copy of 4-Wheel & Off-Road smashed against the window of the store. I've probably seen the episode four or five times and I never noticed it before. I thought it was funny that a show that takes place in the big city would use your magazine for a prop.
Editor: See, you just can't get away from us. I wonder if it was planned, or just a lucky break?
Reader: I enjoy reading 4-Wheel & Off-Road every month, especially the articles written by Editor Rick Pewe. I happen to be a big fan but dang, do you pronounce his name pay-way or pee-wee?
Editor: It happens to be pronounced pay-way, like "pay your way," even though it doesn't look like it should. The French accent ague over the "e" makes the ay sound, even though it is a German name. You should try growing up with a name like that. It makes for some interesting times.
Reader: I just have a quick comment on the "50 Tips" article (Apr. '06). I think you folks overlooked one more option: synthetic gearbox lubes. I have a Suzuki Samurai, and I changed to Amsoil Severe Gear in both diffs, transfer case, and transmission. I can tell you the stuff works. My lockers work smoother, and the trans and transfer case just shift better, even when working it hard on a hot day. Just thought I'd throw in my two cents' worth.
Editor: We've seen real improvements in many respects by switching to synthetic lubes, and recommend it for those who can afford it. Thanks for reminding us.
Reader: In response to the letter by Shawn Crowe on the bashing of the KJ (Apr. '06), I would have to say get used to it. Any new vehicle that does not look like a CJ is going to take a fair amount of heat from many of the classic Jeepers. I wheel an '89 Cherokee and I have received my fair share of flack from not only unknown people on the trail, but even some of the clubs that I ran with. This is despite the fact that my rig would go just about anywhere any CJ could go and in some cases handle the terrain better. Granted there are drawbacks of the longer body and I have been known to get my rig into trouble in some of the tight spots between trees; which has earned me the CB handle "Wedgie." What you have to realize is that each vehicle has its own strengths and weaknesses and that as people see more modified KJs on the trail they will slowly accept them as they did with the YJ, TJ, XJ, and so on. Most of the capable rigs on the trail are so far from how they came off the assembly line that it is silly to flip someone crap over what brand or model they drive. One should judge the vehicle on its capability and not just on what it was born as.
Editor: Right you are, Galen. We couldn't agree more.
Reader: I am a big Ultimate Adventure fan. I have all the Ultimate Adventure videos from 2001 to 2005. I was wondering if there was a video for the Ultimate Adventure 2000. If there is one, how can I get one to add to my collection? I was also wondering if you sold the Ultimate Adventure shirts or were they just for the participants. I think the Ultimate Adventure was a great idea. It has inspired me to hit the trails more often. I have been working on my '95 Jeep Wrangler YJ since 2003 trying to get it up to the Ultimate Adventure requirements. All I need is a set of lockers and I'll be ready. Thanks for making the Ultimate Adventure and I hope one day to be one of the lucky readers to get to ride with you.
Editor: Sorry, Matthew, we didn't have a video crew with us in 2000, so no video is available. Keep working on your Wrangler and keep hitting the trails, that's what wheeling is all about.
Reader: I have been seeing pictures of early-to-mid '90s crew cab Toyota Hi-Lux pickups for years now. On a recent trip to Mexico, I saw that they are everywhere! Why can't I find any in the U.S.? With all of the wacky imported cars I see on eBay, it seems that there should be a good amount of import Hi-Luxes for sale. Where can I find one in the U.S.? Are they expensive? Why doesn't anyone else seem to notice these ultimate trucks? Please help! Thanks.
PS: I have been reading your magazine for about six years now and still cannot figure out who Petersen is.
Editor: Yes, the vehicles you see in Mexico are pretty cool, just like the fullsize Ramcharger which Dodge produced there in the late '90s after they quit making them here. Most of these types of vehicles do not comply with U.S. emissions and safety regulations, and aren't legally importable. As far as your second question, Robert Petersen started Hot Rod magazine on a shoestring back in 1949 by printing the mag himself and selling it to racers on the dry lake beds of Southern California. While building his publishing empire, he launched Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine as a one-time special issue of Hot Rod magazine in 1978. The Petersen's was meant to separate it from the other 4x4 magazines on the market (the same reasoning is behind Petersen's Guns & Ammo). Petersen sold the company in 1997, and we went through a series of owners until Primedia took over in 2002. We keep Petersen's in our title for its proud historical significance as the leader of the 4x4 magazine scene.
It seems that no matter what you guys have done lately, somebody gets all wound up about it and threatens to either not renew or quit purchasing your publication altogether. Who are these people? Do they always tuck their tails in and just start running if something does not go their way? I've been a subscriber for many years. I don't agree with everything that you put in the mag, but come on. They don't like the winners of 4x4 of the Year. Not enough features on vehicles that they like or too many bikini girls. The list goes on and on. And now you've pissed off some backwoods Republicans. Oh my. I will keep subscribing as I like your mag and I like wheeling. I want to be informed about the things others do and what's new on the market. But first and foremost it is about having fun with what you do and share that fun with likeminded people. And I mean likeminded as in wheeling together, wrenching together and having fun. No whiners, like you point out every year for the Ultimate Adventure, which is a good motto. Let's keep it that way, and for crying out loud, have some fun!