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4-Wheel & Off-Road
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Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
Our Own Whoops!
Reader: First off, I want to say how much I enjoy your magazine. It got me through quite a few long days in Iraq and gave me ideas of what to do when I got back here stateside. I noticed an oops in your Nov. '08 issue on page 81. On Mark Brancieri's Tracker the suspension looks like a spring-under, not a spring-over (picky, picky, I know). I think your rag is awesome and I hope one day to join you guys on the trail. Keep up the good work!
Spc. Josh Barlow
Ft. Bragg, NCv
Red Sled Reaction
Reader: Wow! I am sensing so much anger from Matt in regard to the Red Sled's death (Point Taken, In Box, Dec. '08). Perhaps he should consider that his driving skills may not be as advanced as those of the people who run a national magazine. By the way, Matt, having stock IFS and a 4-inch lift are not the same thing; that is called a contradiction. "Stock" would mean that you have no lift or modifications of any kind. Also, for comparison's sake, Matt should have included the tire size that he runs as well as any sort of gears for the transfer case or axles, engine mods, and any other sort of modification that could affect the torque placed on the CV axle.
On the other hand, the Red Sled had a much longer wheelbase, being a longbed 3/4-ton truck, a transfer case with a 5:1 crawl ratio, a new big-block 454, and a much heavier GVWR. The Red Sled was built up, rather than just lifted up. Your '93 Blazer is a 1/2-ton-rated truck with a much shorter wheelbase, possible stock gears, and a 350 engine (probably tired out), and was a much lighter factory weight in comparison. So, IFS may work for your little Blazer, but not for a truck that could tow your Blazer to any wheeling spot in the country and back again. You are comparing apples and oranges, my friend.
Editor: Good letter. Thanks for pointing out a few of the important variables in such a comparison.
Reader: You guys are doing it right with regard to the 4x4 of the Year competition (Feb. '09). It's fun to see what the manufacturers are throwing into the ring from year to year. Let's be honest with each other and all who read this magazine: Not everyone can afford to build ground-up rock buggies and desert racers to let sit in their driveways for 11 months a year. I do believe that in real everyday use, IFS is just as capable as the tried-and-true solid front axle. I own an '00 Dodge Sport with 33s and no lift. My mother-in-law owns an '02 Kia Sportage (it does have a selectable transfer case with low range) and it has the dreaded IFS. I have to admit that it is a lot of fun to drive and is a very capable little 4x.
So come on, people. Not all four-wheel-drives have to be Jeeps, H1 Hummers, or Unimogs. They just have to be capable for what that person wants. Thanks, and keep up the good work.
Editor: We agree. You should see some of the "unworthy rigs" we wheel all the time!
Ultimate Adventure Sidekicks
Reader: I believe that Mark Brancieri's Geo Tracker and John Lambert's Suzuki Sidekick of the Ultimate Adventure ( Nov. and Dec. '08) are proof enough that Trackers/Sidekicks are great build platforms. I own a '90 Tracker and I am begging you to do a buildup of one! I believe there is a market for these rigs that many manufacturers haven't realized. I think you are the folks that can help change that.
Editor: We have enough projects as it is, so we'll leave it to those guys to keep building their rigs. From what we hear, they are both making even more mods!
Reader: I just got the Jan. '09 issue in the mail and noticed something in the Readers' Rides section. There is a Wagoneer (a pretty cool one at that) on page 22 that is labeled an '87 Wrangler. Very cool issue though. You guys have helped me a ton in building my '96 XJ. Keep up the awesome work!
Editor: Yeah, we looked back at the tech sheet and it said "Wagoneer" plain as day. We don't know how the goof-up got through. Thanks for the sharp eye!
Jeepsters And Suzukis
Reader: I really enjoy your mag. You guys do a great job. I wanted some clarification on the article "Low-Buck Trail Rig: Tips for the First-Time Jalopy Buyer" (Jan. '09). It describes the purchase and repair of a '67 Jeep Commando. You can see a DMV smog sticker on the windshield of the vehicle, but shouldn't it be smog-exempt due to the year? I know how tough California smog regulations are. Our 4Runner got smacked with the same sticker when it failed the mandatory smog test one year. I also noticed a sticker on the Unimog in the same issue. If you could clear this up, it would be much appreciated. Oh yeah, is it just me or does the new Equator look more like a Tacoma than a Frontier?
Editor: The smog rules have changed since that Commando was smogged. Originally a '67 needed to be checked. Nowadays only models '76 and after need to be smogged. Earlier rigs are exempt. And yes, the Suzuki resembles a Toyota more than a Frontier, but ultimately we think Suzuki got what it wanted: a look that is still its own. Remember, we all look a bit talike!