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4-Wheel & Off-Road
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Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515
End Of The Turtle
Reader: Once again you guys have proven to be the exception rather than the rule. You have asked for ideas of what to do with your Toyota "Turtle" ("Vote for the Turtle!" Drivelines, May '09). You claim you will smash, bash, and generally destroy the thing before you give it back. Nice going. Hammer the crap out of someone else's stuff just like you try to destroy your own junk. It's junk by your own admission, and I know why. You always whine about a limited budget, but when you go out with the intention of rapid disassembly, it's going to cost money. No "normal" person would purposely trash their ride just because of the price of repairs, but here you are, once again, advocating mechanical mayhem. Why don't you give it back in some condition faintly resembling operational? Get real, and I mean real like the rest of us, not like the evil kid in the movie Toy Story!
Editor: Thanks for the input. However, you are misinformed on many levels. Assertion: We try and destroy our own junk. Fact: No, we use it to the extreme. We do not try and wreck it for the sake of carnage or a good laugh--we simply are aware of the possibilities and attempt to do the best with the minimum amount of damage. But as adults we also don't whine about a scratch, a dent, or a broken part. Yes, we have to fix it, and yes, we have to pay for much of it. There is no free lunch.
Assertion: Our stuff is junk by our own admission. Fact: The term junk is one of endearment. We don't use it in a bad, negative way. I assume that you think a car with a dent and faded paint in your neighbor's front yard is junk as well, while it could be a priceless treasure or, more importantly, handcrafted automotive art. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Just look at your own junk.
Assertion: We whine about a limited budget. Fact: True.
Assertion: No normal person would purposely trash their ride just because of the cost of repairs. Fact: Again, we don't purposely trash our rides. That's for 16-year-olds and drunken wheelers. I've seen guys drive off a cliff just to see if they could without blowing up, and by gosh it's too bad they didn't.
Assertion: We aren't going to give the Toyota back in functional condition. Fact: Oh so very true! Why? Because this vehicle is headed to the crusher after we are done with it. It is a preproduction vehicle that Toyota (like most car manufacturers) can't sell, part out, or do anything else with. The lawyers say it has to be demolished so it can never be a liability to the company. It got a death sentence when it was born, so we plan to drive it to the max. Ideally, we'll win the Top Truck competition without a scratch on the old girl, drive the Turtle to the crusher, and weep as it gets flattened like a pancake. But if we don't win, we'll at least put on the best show possible.
Mud Tire Test Cop-Out?
Reader: OK, I am not going to whine to you about the truck of the year or too many Jeeps or not enough Dodges, but I do think your answer to Jason in the In Box in the Apr. '09 issue was a cop-out. You won't do a mud test because it's something you already know? Last I checked, aren't you 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine? The first thing I do when test-driving a truck is hit the muddiest hole I can find. It's important to me that my truck perform in the mud.Why wouldn't that be a consideration? Plenty of tire companies would help you out (same as they always do). So, like I said, I think it's a cop-out. Great mag, keep it up, just stick to your roots.
(Yes, that's short for Christine)
In the heart of Iowa
Editor: Thanks for the thought, Chris. You make a good point, and we agree with what you do in testing your truck. Our point is that most new vehicles come with street tires, and all we would do by testing in the mud is get the 4x4s miserably stuck. We hit the mud for our tire tests, sure, but in 4x4 of the Year we know what would happen to the new rides.
As far as changing to new mud tires goes, yes, a great idea except that we are testing stock vehicles. Many years ago we swapped tires out for all similar treads, but soon we realized that by just doing that we were giving some rigs an unfair advantage. Wait for our next mud tire test; I think you'll enjoy it.
Where Do They Make Dodge Trucks?
Reader: I just picked up the Apr. '09 issue and feel the need to correct an item in the In Box section. Tim Seener of Washington, Missouri, wrote in asking why Dodge didn't win the 4x4 of the Year test. The thing that needs to be cleared up is that Dodge Ram trucks are not built in Wentzville, Missouri. They are built in Fenton. The Wentzville plant builds vans for GM. There's an hour's difference between the two plants. How did you get that wrong?
I know this because I worked at the Dodge Truck plant for 11 years until taking a buyout last month, plus my dad retired from the Wentzville plant. So there's firsthand knowledge of both.
I think the big point about buying American is that, yes, the transplants build their vehicles here with American workers, but their profits don't stay here; they go back to the home country. Sure, the Big Three build vehicles here and elsewhere, but the profits come back to the U.S.
We could go on and on about buying American and the nasty name calling associated with that, but how about we just get back to four-wheelin'? I've got an '87 Suburban and an '01 Ram to build.
Editor: Right you are! My mistake was saying that the Ram is built in Mexico. That is true, but only HD models, 2500/3500s, and chassis-cab 3500/4500/5500 trucks. The half-ton 1500 is indeed built in Fenton, Missouri, even though that facility is often called the St. Louis plant. Some 1500s are built in Warren, Michigan. Regardless, the case is closed until next year. Let's go wheeling!