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4-Wheel & Off-road
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Reader: I really enjoyed your "2008 4x4 of the Year" test. I was really pulling for the new JK Wrangler rubicon, but i knew its weak minivan engine would prevent it from winning. Jeep's new owner, Cerberus, needs to drop a torquey turbodiesel in this sucker now! I couldn't help but notice how the Wrangler's current engine compartment looked like a carbureted engine from the late '70s. Black engine hoses everywhere!
Reader: I'm a long-time subscriber and off- roader. I love the magazine and most of your opinions. I've learned a ton and built some pretty capable rigs with your help and ideas. Now that the big sloppy kiss is over, you have got to be kidding me! I'm sure this will be one of 10,000 letters you get about your "4x4 of the Year" selection, but maybe i can make my point. I'm a lover of most anything fourwheel- drive and can certainly appreciate everything that is built with true quality and craftsmanship. When i buy a vehicle, there are many aspects that factor into my decision to purchase that vehicle. I don't imagine that my "factors" are that much different from those of most people who read this rag. Quality, driveability, creature features, off-road capability, curb appeal, fuel effi ciency, and comfort are some of the things that i look for. I think that you guys look at all of these things in your 4x4 of the Year selection.
The big piece that I think you're missing is value. How can you compare, fairly, a $32,000 rubi, with a $71,000 land Cruiser? You know lamborghini made a $200,000 four-wheel-drive suv back in the '80s. Would it have been fair to put it against a class of xjs, yjs, Explorers, and s-10 Blazers? No? So why are you guys doing it now? As I read through some of the letters that you publish, one thing keeps ringing through: Not everyone has bottomless pockets. This is why we ask for help, ask for less expensive solutions, and try and do things ourselves. You guys do a lot of "low-buck buildups" for the same reason. We (the readers of your rag) want the best bang for our buck. The land Cruisers are great vehicles, but I could buy two rubicons and have $7,000 left over to add a lift, tires, a winch, a cage, and other goodies. Value has to be a factor or criteria for future evaluations.
Editor: You've made a very valid point, much better than most who wrote in decrying our choice of a megabuck land Cruiser. But truth be told, a high price counts against a vehicle four times in points, which we designed to level the playing field. A question to ask is if all these vehicles we tested were the same price, would the toyota still have come out on top? For my money i'd buy two rubicons as well and party hearty with the extra $7k, but guess what. Me buying a new rig won't ever happen!
Reader: Ahlan wa sahlan (in English: hello and welcome). I am a 4-Wheel & Off-road fan from saudi Arabia. I started reading in 1999, and I love to wheel with my '01 toyota GX-r land Cruiser 100 with a K&N air filter and an Old Man Emu suspension. Sometimes i drive to my dad's farm or to the desert and have fun all day and camp at night. In saudi the best 4x4s are the toyota, Nissan, Chevy, and Ford, but my favorite is the Nissan super patrol. Why don't I see land Cruiser or Nissan patrol parts like fuel injection, ignition upgrades, drivetrain, or computer tuning?
Abdullah M Al-Hajry
Editor: Thanks for the e-mail. It's nice to know we have friends who wheel around the globe. The aftermarket parts you are asking about aren't available because not enough people want them in the u.s. Sure, you do and so does anybody that wants to hop up their patrol, but we unfortunately don't get the patrol in the u.s. Try and find a local company to make stuff, and maybe they can corner the world market on patrol accessories!
Reader: I love the magazine, but i have tried to submit various rigs to readers' rides and haven't had any of them printed. Yet i have noticed that two times the same rigs have been in readers' rides. The first is Jason Carr's '89 trooper (Dec. '05 and Nov. '06). I blew that off because he had changed wheels and tires and did some fender trimming. But when scott Cowee got his '91 s-10 in twice (July '07 and Jan. '08), i couldn't stand it and i had to say something. Not only was it the second time it was in there, it was the exact same picture. Call it jealousy if you want, but it's the fact that i've tried so many times to get my rigs in to no avail. I currently own an '02 Ford F-250 super Duty with 315/75r16 Goodyear Mt/rs on stock 16x8 wheels, bds 3-inch leveling kit, 7.3 turbodiesel with a power programmer and straight-through 4-inch exhaust, and AEM Brute Force intake, ranch Hand front end replacement housing a 9,000-pound Warn Winch, Weston nerf bars, and taillight protectors. Other than not having lockers, it goes where and when i want it to. You should comb through every issue to see if someone's rig has been printed or not, or maybe set up a data sheet where you just have to type in their name that will show if they have been in.
Editor: Wow, we never caught either duplication, and sure didn't do it on purpose! We receive too many entries to check all our back issues, and sometimes there are a few people who try and do this on purpose. Tell you what, send us a photo of your rig with a reminder of this conversation and the usual fields filled out, and we'll make sure you get in readers' rides next time.
Reader: I sat down to read your article "racing through the Years, 30 years 1977-2007," (Nov. '07), hoping to read about some milestones in off-road racing history. I discovered that your target date starts off in 1977, yet the articles does not mention 1977, but starts in March 1978 with Evans' '72 F-150. Did Drew Hardin forget that the article was about 30 years of racing, and not 29 years? Did Hardin not find anything worthy to write about from the races in 1977? What about the ih scout? I have noticed that petersen's tends to ignore the international scout, as if it's not worthy to have a place in the same pages as the rest of the off-road trucks. But the history of the scouts speaks for itself and proves that it is a truck that does deserve to have honors in petersen's mag
In my opinion neglecting to mention that Jerry Boone of parker, Arizona, finished first at Baja 1000 in 1977, making the run in 19 hours and 58 minutes (2 hours ahead of a Jeep CJ-7), is a gross overlook by the boys at petersen's. Also, Boone ran faster than the Class iv modi- fied 4x4s. The history is there, Mr. Hardin, you only had to do a little legwork. You never mentioned that sherman Balch won the world off-road championship in 1977 (the renowned s.C.O.r.E event in riverside, California). Also three other finishers along with Balch also drove scouts. Balch also won the Baja 1000, the Mint 400, and three grueling events in the fall of 1978 at lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He later went on to win virtually all major off-road races in 1982 offered on the West Coast/Mexico circuit by winning the Baja 250, Baja 500, Baja 1000, Mint 400, and parker (Arizona) 400 driving ssii scouts.
I love to read this mag and i find more information on builds in it that helps me to Design the build of my scout, but the only places i ever see a scout in its pages are in either readers' rides or the Whoops! Sections. People are still building scouts and advancing the technology, but we never see this in petersen's. We only see Jeep, Chevy, Ford, and so on. The accomplishment of the people driving the scouts to wins goes unwritten; that also goes the same for the builds. I am disgusted with Hardin, who can't count to 30 and fails to mention the scouts and their drivers who took top honors with the greatest 4x4 (in my opinion) to have ever rolled off the assembly line.
Editor: First off, thanks for all of that info. Our readers appreciate it as much as we do. Also, we love scouts so much that the scout was picked as one of our choices in "Best 4x4s of all time" (Feb. '08). Just to be sure, we have even included the photo we used in that story of Brett mccullen wheeling the Woodpecker trail in his highly modified scout. Now, if you read the whole racing story like you said, you'd know that we pulled vintage stuff from the pages of the mag, instead of going back in time and rewriting what wasn't there.
I forwarded Mr. Hardin your letter and he replied: "rick hit the nail on the head. My assignment was to present highlightsof the racing coverage this magazine has done over its 30-year history, not write a racing history with a scout-lover's slant.Compressing that much material into just a few pages meant that we had to make some tough decisions about what to run and what to leave in the archive for another day. As for my mathematical abilities: is it my fault the magazine didn't cover racing until 1978? For crying out loud, that was eight years before i even joined the magazine!"
Reader: I am really getting tired of reading other peoples' complaints about small petty crap. I have been reading this great magazine since 1997, and i am always impressed with the creative ideas that you all come up with. Now, i understand that not everyone can be pleased, but people-let it go! I was reading in Box (Jan. '08), and the main complaint was that the uajk was contaminated with Dodge parts. Oh the horror! The very idea of taking a part off of a vehicle and putting it on a different rig! What, is this a sacrilege? I thought the main goal of building a truck was to be different and creative. I remember when you could not just buy a kit, or if there was a kit available, it was more than one could pay. A person had to make due with what he could find and afford.
My point is this: if you want to be a "purist" and believe Jeep parts only belong on Jeeps, then believe that. However, if someone else wants to think outside the "red Jeep on 35s" box, then let them. Being different is the name of the game. Building the next better thing and experimenting is why we do what we do.
Editor: We're still laughing about the "red Jeep on 35s" concept. You said it better than anyone so far! OK, that's the last word about that, and hey we're all moving on to Some other subject, because we have let it go!