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Junkyard Cars & Truck Collection - 4xForward

Posted in Features on April 1, 2009
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No, this editorial isn't about the myriad of cuts and INFEctions that make me a regular at the local E.R. It's about an interesting affliction many of us share and that is a true sign of sickness. I just didn't realize how widespread it is and what it all really means. It started when Jeff Mello emailed me and his other friends to say he had a 75-percent running Hospital Rate. Jeff is a long-time wheeler, rockcrawling competitor, and recent Ultimate Adventure participant. It sounded serious, so I inquired about it. I learned that the symptoms he had were just like mine and that I may have "outsicked" Jeff's group of sickos.

Jeff told me that the Hospital Game came from discussions he and his racing buddies had after the races. "We would stay at each other's houses when traveling and accuse the other guy of having a bunch of crap he would never get running, but our crap was, of course, good crap." It was a two-year discussion that ended in "running vehicle" being defined as what you could get yourself to the hospital in if your right arm were bleeding badly. Fill a tire? Yes. Jump start? Sure. Install a tranny? No way.

Bikes and quads are included. Boats and jet skis too, assuming you live on a lake and the hospital is across the water. "Vehicle" is anything with a VIN or registration (current or not) or a pile of parts the size of a potential vehicle. Trailers and campers don't count.

His personal best was the 75 percent he claimed in the email. Well, of course, I had to start counting, calculating, and justifying all my stuff, because surely I could beat that score. So I did the math. I have 20 vehicles at my place, 13 of which meet the game's standard of running, so that's 65 percent. Damn! But then I also have 11 separate engines (not including ones in nonrunning vehicles), and of those, five run, as in I would just need to add a battery and some fuel. Who cares about exhaust? I also have five generators, four of which run. My wife says my favorite day is Start Every Engine You Own Day, which means 22 firings in one day.

Then I remembered the engine I have at Fred's parents' place in Pennsylvania, and I have two solid-running vehicles in Arizona, with three more dead ones. And one dead one in New Hampshire! What about bonus points? Hmm, six of mine aren't 4x4s, three of which are Jeeps. And the two odd 4x4s are a Kia and a Chevy. Then I remembered my Honda in Wyoming. It sorta runs, but still might not get me to the hospital, as the closest hospital is 80 miles. And then I remembered (like I could forget) my M715 in Arizona. It runs, but needs two arms to start, much less drive.

The bottom line was unanimous: I'm sicker than most with this disease, but Jeff and his friends knew I needed support (and parts) more than a cure. Are you similarly afflicted? Let me know, just so I'll know I'm not alone.

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