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 Due to the large volume of mail we receive, we regret that we cannot reply to unpublished letters or return photos.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
6420 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
Reader: Let me start off by saying your magazine is great; keep up the good work. Your story "Ram 1500 TRX4" (Sept. '07) on the truck on page 102 states that the truck is hauling a hemi in the bed, but it looks like an inline-six to me.
Brandon Miller, Middletown, IN
Editor: We always appreciate our readership. You were the only one who read that story carefully enough to notice that, yes, it is a straight-six engine in the photo. What you don't realize, however, is that the pictured Jeep Tornado 230ci overhead-cam six-cylinder engine is indeed a hemi. Hemi is slang for hemispherical combustion chamber, popularized by Chrysler in the '50s and made legendary in the '60s musclecars. Jeep produced this Tornado hemi in the early '60s, but it was far ahead of its time in technology and failed to win public acceptance due to the complexity, lack of power, and weight nearly that of a diesel engine.
Reader: I was reading the Aug. '07 issue and noticed an error that was repeated multiple times. In the article "Big Chief" it is stated multiple times that the Chief has an LT1. However, the picture shown is not an LT1 but the older L98 motor.
Bill Voet, Burlington, KY
Editor: Thanks for setting us straight. We'll fry the writer in 10/40 oil until he knows the difference in Chevy engines.
Reader: I was disappointed when you did an article on four-wheel orphans (Nov. '06). You had a picture and a short description on just about every 4x4 on the planet, except for the Mitsubishi Montero. Then in the June '07 issue, you made me feel a little better by including a picture of a rather beat-up Montero in the "oddball" group of project wheelers. Other than ARB, as you stated, there are no aftermarket parts available. Why is this? It used to be when a new 4x4 hit the streets, the aftermarket folks would wait and see if the vehicle would be popular before making parts for it. But look at the new FJ. You could fill an issue with all the goodies available for it. I am the second owner of a '92 Montero. It is very reliable, has a ton of room inside, has good handling on and off road, and I like the fact that it has a full frame. I learned how to wheel in it, and I have done anything that a stock Jeep could do. For the last seven consecutive years, Monteros have won the Paris-Dakar rally (not Jeep, Hummer, Ford, and so on). In other countries, Monteros are just as popular as Toyotas. Yet the only thing I can buy for my buggy is a bumper, a roof rack, and a locker. Please make my orphan wheeler feel better!
John, via 4wheeloffroad.com
Editor: Sorry, but the aftermarket manufactures products that they think they can sell. The fact remains that you have a very capable vehicle, but I'll hazard a guess that there are many more FJs made than Monteros here, and more owners are apt to buy more accessories.
Reader: I guess no one read my letter to the editor in response to Gale Banks' quote in your magazine about biodiesel a few issues back. If you had, Jerrod Jones' latest article, "Fry Cooker" (Sept. '07), would have the benefit of more accurate facts.
There are more than 1,000 retail stations nationwide currently selling biodiesel blends. These blends range from 2 to 99 percent biodiesel content, though 20 percent and lower blends are the most common and bear the blessing of engine manufacturers. All biodiesel that is sold commercially must meet the ASTM specification and be registered with EPA as a legal motor fuel. Vegetable oil does not meet either of these requirements. Biodiesel is a uniform fuel and can be burned in any diesel engine with no modification. It does, indeed, burn cleaner than petroleum diesel. The companies that sell vegetable-oil conversion kits will tell you vegetable oil burns cleanly, but then they'll point you to data that actually came from our tests on biodiesel. It is unclear whether vegetable-oil conversion kits are in compliance with the clean air act.
There are currently 148 plants producing biodiesel across the country. That number is expected to increase to 244 plants within 18 months. Those plants will have a total production capacity of 1.89 billion gallons per year. These independent biodiesel producers and the associated economic development are predicted to create 40,000 new U.S. jobs. It is still a small industry compared to traditional oil refineries. Accurate reporting will help biodiesel compete with those "oil barons," as Jerrod put it. You might say 40,000 jobs depend on you getting the story straight. Your readers also deserve accurate information so they know what fuels they can burn without damaging their vehicles, violating clean air standards, or getting in hot water over fuel tax evasion.
I've been a reader and driver for more than a dozen years. I work on my own trucks. I have even burned my share of straight vegetable oil before I knew better. The National Biodiesel Board is a non-profit organization. We would be happy to work with your staff providing accurate information on biodiesel. We work with the engine manufacturers on their latest biodiesel projects. I can provide article material on biodiesel trail rigs like the Dodge Power Wagon in the attached photo.
Don Scott, Technical & Regulatory Engineer, National Biodiesel Board
P.S. E85 is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
Editor: Technically, we never mentioned biodiesel in the story, so we question your questioning of accurate facts since facts are accurate or they can't be a fact. But thanks for the important info on biodiesel. Yeah, and then Jerrod actually got the percentages crossed on the E85. Too much late-night typing, and now Jerrod has corn farmers after him. The Web site for the National Biodiesel Board is www.biodiesel.org. Thanks for the update!
Reader: Love the magazine. I subscribed after buying just one. I just received my September issue and I have read lots, but the other day when I was in a store I picked up the same issue and realized that it was thicker than mine. I opened it up and found a section titled "Greatest Whoops Ever." I was just wondering how come I didn't receive this section in my magazine.
Alex Rodgers, via 4wheeloffroad.com
Editor: Sorry, that section is what is known in our industry as a premium, and is only included in the newsstand editions, since the price is so much higher than the subscription price. We wish we could include it in the subscription issues, but that is not possible due to the extra cost.
Reader: I just started reading In Box (Aug. '07) and the first letter ("Dept. of Corrections") is about the new Super Duty not having the industry's first integrated tailgate step. The person who wrote in is claiming that the Avalanche had this feature first and you agreed with him. However in the writer's own words, the step is molded out of the rear bumper. Therefore the Super Duty does in fact have the industry's first integrated tailgate step.
Dino Redd, Las Vegas, NV
Editor: Now we all know. Thanks!
Reader: I just put down your 4xForward (Sept. '07) and had to send a big thank you for your article on personal responsibility. It seems that as a group we get so busy that we fail to recognize the impact of our actions on other people and our environment. As a police officer, I deal with this on a daily basis and it is truly the most frustrating aspect of my job (right up there with the paperwork). No one is perfect, but most get so defensive ("I didn't do anything wrong") that they forget that a simple "I'm sorry" would go a lot further! Everyone does something wrong, be it speeding, running yellow/red lights, or cutting people off. I actually don't like writing tickets, especially when the current temperatures are around 120 degrees. The philosophy is what will work...does simply getting caught and inconvenienced for a few minutes do the trick, or is the attitude such that it needs a ticket to make a point? Love the magazine and all the great tips and photos-my boyfriend and I off-road whenever we can, most recently in Utah! His Web site is www.bigjimsadventures.com. Thanks for all the hard work! Keep the great times coming.
Nicole Guess, Henderson, NV
Editor: Thanks. By the way, I knew better than writing the bit about the speeding ticket, and cringed as soon as I hit "send." Sure enough, I got a ticket for speeding (the first ticket in 20-some years) a week later by simply not paying attention. It was fully my fault, and yes, I'm paying the fine.
Reader: I just read your Point Taken (In Box, Aug. '07). I would like to offer my kudos to your response to Mr. Zwegat. I wondered how successful he was on his business trip overseas. If I am not mistaken, your magazine is sold throughout the world, which obviously includes Japan. His arrogance in his letter to you is a perfect example of why we have terrorists that hate America.
Frankly, I seem to see more complaints expressing your "lack" of coverage on this or that vehicle and there is too much coverage on Jeeps. I always chuckle when I see these shortsighted letters. I remember wishing that I would see more articles on Toyota FJ40 Land Cruisers. I had a '68 Land Cruiser that I fixed up a bit and was constantly on the lookout for new and different ideas to implement on my 'Cruiser. However, I realized that the FJ40 had not been sold in the United States since the '70s and that there wasn't much demand for it from all of your readers. I also realized that the largest majority of your readers probably owned a Jeep, thus, this was probably why there was at least one article related to a Jeep in every publication.
Currently, there are so many SUVs out there, I don't see how you can possibly cover all of them. In my opinion, most of them are suited for "tough" highway conditions, not for serious off-roading. Finally, Toyota has come out with a vehicle that has been designed for some serious off-roading and they are selling them fast enough that some folks are having to order and wait for their new FJ Cruiser to come in. That tells me that you are right on cue in trying to provide information and constant updates to the world about what can be done with this new and exciting "off-road" vehicle.
By the way, I have been in 13 countries, many of these as many as 10 times, and I feel that I probably have a pretty good idea of how the international community views America. I also currently own a Jeep Wrangler and a Ford F-250 4x4. I doubt that Toyota is going to make a serious dent in the American marketplace any time soon. What I think is that Toyota has demonstrated their desire to compete in this market and, as a result, inspired the American automaker to improve its product line. I think this is evident in all of the 2007 Jeep vehicles. I call that a win-win scenario.
B. Crist, Salt Lake City
Editor: One reader wrote in to the point that he would have been happy just to have a photo of his truck in the magazine, and wouldn't whine a bit about it! And by the way, Toyota has definitely made its dent, recently surpassing GM as the largest auto manufacturer in the world.