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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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.
4-Wheel & Off-Road
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Reader: I just finished reading the 4xForward (Aug. '06). Wow, I can't believe it's been that long since I first read about the Scorpion back in the August '97 issue. I am amazed to see where the sport of wheeling was headed. Freiburger's editorial was right on the money with his prediction of future trends in the sport. Its growth is similar to the growth of Monster Trucks. The first Big Foot was so low-tech by today's standards. The same can be said for the growth of Buggies. The Scorpion seemed so high-tech 10 years ago. Today that technology is commonplace in the sport. I can't wait to see what the future holds, and I will continue to read 4-Wheel & Off-Road to see what's to come. Thanks for the coverage on Alaska as well ("Running With the Moose Buggies," Aug. '06). We don't get nearly enough coverage of our great wheeling areas. I hope you guys make it back up here to check out some more of our great state.
Editor: That's why I reprinted the Aug. '97 editorial from David Freiburger. It was an eye opener. Even though it was only 9 years ago, the industry as a whole has made great strides in technology. Now if we can only make even greater strides in trying to keep our public land open.
Reader: In your article "Trickest Trail Fix" (Aug. '06), you wrote about welding with batteries, jumper cables, and a welding rod. I was wondering if you could give me and your the readers a little bit more information on the subject. I'd like to know what kind of welding rod (a coat hanger?) you use, and does the battery need to be an extra one or can you use the one in your truck? If you use it while in your truck then will it fry anything when you try to weld?
Michael A. Oppegaard
Editor: Welding with batteries is a long, involved story which we outlined many years ago, and perhaps should be rehashed in the future. The basic concept is hooking up two 12-volt batteries in series for 24 volts, and using a standard 6013 welding rod to join metal. As a rule, the batteries should be removed from the vehicles to prevent damage to sensitive electronics, sealed batteries are best to prevent hydrogen explosions, and proper arc-welding eye protection must be used. We've welded for over an hour with this setup, and always had enough juice left in the battery to crank the engine.
Reader: I love your magazine, but I cannot recall the last time I read about or saw an Isuzu Trooper in it. I have a '91 Trooper, which I love. I think it is a much underrated rig. I love being different because everywhere I go, everybody has Jeeps. It's bad enough that my favorite mag doesn't talk about Troopers, but nobody sells parts for them either. If you could help me in any way, that would be great. Trooper lovers unite!
Editor: Just your luck. If you check out this very issue you'll find a wealth of information on Isuzus and other orphan 4x4s starting on page 96. We call these rigs orphans because is really seems that everyone ignores them, even though just like your rig, many of them are highly capable machines that don't get the credit they deserve.
Reader: I was greatly touched by Kevin Williams letter about trouble on the trails in Moab (In Box, "Point Taken," Sept. '06), and was equally touched by your reply. I will not go on and on about the problems that these big rigs cause in Moab. Every OHVer in Texas has lost the privilege to ride across streams, even dry ones because of some jerk OHVers. We have been riding in Moab six times on our ATVs and have witnessed bikes, horses, motorcycles, ATVs, and big rigs doing all the bad things that were mentioned and more, plenty more.
Just because one group of ATV people act up doesn't mean that we all do. We will never be off the designated trail. We always carry trash bags to clean up other's trash. Please, please don't be narrow-minded when you point fingers. That goes for you too, 4-Wheel & Off-Road.
President, Quad Texas ATV Club
Editor: Right you are, and we applaud any off-highway group that respects the land and trails, and that goes for mountain bikers, hikers, and equestrians as well.
Reader: First off, I am a huge fan of 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine. As such, I am also a fanatic of the yearly Ultimate Adventure. The main reason I am so eager to order the DVD is I just can't wait, and I have to be one of the first people to receive the DVD when it is released. Also, the newest edition to the UA family is the Ultimate FJ, and pictures I have gotten off of www.poisonspyder.com and www.fabfours.com of the Ultimate FJ just aren't enough for me. Is it at all possible that I can pre-order the DVD, and if so, where can I do that?
Editor: As of press time we don't have a verifiable phone number for ordering the DVD of Ultimate Adventure 2006. However, check our Web site www.4wheeloffroad .com for updates. We plan to have the DVD on sale by Thanksgiving for your holiday season enjoyment.
Editor's note: Feature Editor Jerrod Jones started off our Best 4x4... in the June '06 issue, with Tech Editor Fred Williams continuing in the July issue, Art Director Alan Huber penned his picks for August, and I finished up my choices in the September issue. Here's a few rants about Jerrod's picks and his reply.
Reader: Regarding your "Best" picks; OK, AMG Hummer H1, obvious. Chevrolet/GMC H3, agree. Dodge Power Wagon, is there another option? Ford FX4 Ranger? Er-uh-OK, I see your point (the Ford faithful will egg your house, however). International Scout II, good! Ah, yes. Here we are! The Isuzu Trooper. What?! Isuzu Trooper? Jerrod, dude, I love you and the entire staff of the best 4x4 mag on the planet, so I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and blame this miscue on scarcity. The VehiCross is clearly the best 4x4 made by Isuzu for the U.S. My argument is simple: The very drivetrain that was the reason you chose the Trooper also underpins the V. The 3.5 used in the Trooper is also Isuzu's powertrain of choice for the V. But the V sports better approach/departure/breakover angles and a whole bunch of ground clearance that has been left on the table by its Trooper sibling. Sure, the V is very rare, with just over 4,000 units being sold during its three-year production run, but this article was not based on availability, was it? I will not be alone on this one, I am certain!
I am a 'Yota guy (4Runner with 4.7 transfer gears), and I have to agree with you on the FJ80. I would have definitely gone straight to the FJ40, and never looked back. Touche, Jerrod.
Clint Moran, via 4wheeloffroad.com
Reader: I enjoyed your article on the best 4x4s on Earth. However, I noticed one small inaccuracy in the Jeep writeup. The six-speed manual was also offered in the '05 model. I confirmed this with my 2005 brochure and with my buddy's Rubicon Unlimited. I wonder how the new '07 Wrangler Rubicon/Rubicon Unlimited would compare in your rankings? With all the extra goodies, it's hard to believe the new engine would cancel out the extras.
Dennis, via 4wheeloffroad.com
Reader: A stock FX4 Ranger is better than a stock early Bronco? Sounds like we need a good old-fashioned wheel-off to show the Bronco's prowess! Don't get me wrong; I'm sure the Ranger works great when going to the grocery store, but honestly, to make the list of the best 4x4s of all time? I saw a few pictures in the mag where it looked like your head was missing and I didn't know what had happened. I figured it had to be a freak accident or something, but now I know the real cause-it has been up your rear this whole time!
Eric, Moorpark, CA
Reader: Let me guess, Mr. Jones. You're about 24 years old and never grew up in the four-wheel-drive evolution. Heck, you probably just bought one when you got your first job since graduating from some third-string community college and your dad is good friends with the editor of Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road. It sounds familiar to me 'cause I obviously didn't do my research on your ability to write an article on the best 4x4 of all time, and after reading yours, it's obvious you didn't do any research either. Come on, get the facts, not personal opinions. We all have them and this is my opinion of you.Joseph Haskins, via 4wheeloffroad.com
Editor: Wow, I think I've found a new hot button! I received more hate mail from Bronco owners than I ever would have guessed! A Bronco mistake that I regretted most: I wrote that Broncos never came with limited slips, but they did in fact offer a limited-slip differential. But I stand by my choice that a modern-day FX3 Level II (that was an error as well-I never included the "Level II" title in the story) would best a stock '66-'77 Bronco off-road. Just the tire differences alone from what was available then compared to now makes my decision an easy one. Not to mention the trouncing in any high-speed off-road situations that a stock Bronco would get. But the fact that I mistook that Broncos never came with a limited slip gave Bronco lovers enough reason to tear into my integrity, my family, and offer me butt kickins'
Forget Scout owners. I can't wait to start picking on Bronco owners even more.
As for other inaccuracies...Jeep did in fact have a six-speed manual tranny in 2005 and not just 2006, Land Rover had both a 3.9L and a 4.0L engine in the D90s. Maybe I should have picked the VehiCross for Isuzu, and Mercedes probably should have been included obviously with a Unimog. Also, we thought "Earth" looked better in the title than "Best 4x4s in the U.S."-a couple of people called us on that one. Oh, and I was only picking one vehicle from each manufacturer. I never actually stated that in the story.
One thing that not one person called me on (this surprised the heck out of me because I was sure I was going down for this one), was that I accidentally wrote that the Isuzu 9.61-inch ring gear was bigger than a Dana 60. Wrong! That must've been when I was snacking on paint chips. Dana 60s have a 9.75-inch ring gear, and are thus bigger than the Isuzu axle.
The outcome of all this banter about best 4x4s? Well, I think our reader Eric from Moorpark, California, is right: We're gonna have to have a good old-fashioned wheel-off to see what would be the top dog; a Ranger or a first-gen Bronco. So I am putting out an official call for your help, Bronco and Ranger owners. I need two willing volunteers (more if we can get two or three of each) owning either an original '66-'77 Bronco with stock suspension and a stock drivetrain, or a completely stock Ranger FX4 Level II. I'll even give the Bronco this: You can have cut rear fenders but no lift kit, and we'll even put you on new BFGoodrich All-Terrains (what the Ranger comes with) just to even up the odds. I'm sure we can all agree that it would be no contest if the Bronco was sitting on '60s-era treads. If you'd be willing to do some reasonable wheeling with your stock first-gen Bronco or FX4 Ranger, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and use the subject Best 4x4 Showdown.