December 2009 4x4 Truck & Automotive News - DrivelinesPosted in Features on December 1, 2009
Rally Fighter Coming In 2010
The Rally Fighter from Local Motors is a high-tech desert buggy you don't just buy-you can also help build it. Local Motors' concept is unique: A group of likeminded enthusiasts came together with ideas for a vehicle, which was then designed by group member Sangho Kim. His Rally Fighter will be built in a microfactory in Phoenix, one of many microfactories Local Motors hopes to set up around the country. Anyone buying a Rally Fighter is invited to help the professionals at the microfactory build the car.
On paper the Rally Fighter sounds like fun. Thermoplastic and carbon-fiber body panels wrap around a welded steel tubular space frame. A BMW M57 clean diesel engine provides abundant power: 265 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque. The suspension is manually adjustable to suit everything from city driving to desert running and offers 18 inches of travel.
Just 3,000 of the Rally Fighters will be built, and Local Motors reps tell us that low build numbers are going fast. To learn more, visit www.local-motors.com/RF.
Mickey Mystery solved
We mistakenly slipped a Mickey into the Oct. '09 Wheel Guide. Our Mickey Thompson entry described the new SideBiter wheel; unfortunately, the accompanying photo showed the new Mickey Thompson Signature Series. While both of these Mickey Thompson wheels are black, that's where the similarities end. The SideBiter has a seven-spoke design and is available in 15-, 16-, and 17-inch diameters. The Limited Edition M/T Signature Series has a 5-on-41/2 bolt pattern and is a satin black/clearcoat version of the ubiquitous eight-hole Classic II. The company says that only 640 sets of these wheels, which will have a special Mickey Thompson signature logo, will be made (in 15x8 and 15x10 sizes). We're sorry for the mix-up.
Pimp Your Ford
Back in the 1960s, Galpin Ford sold just two 4x4 trucks a year, one at the beginning of hunting season and the other during year-end clearance, according to Bert Boeckmann, owner of the Southern California dealership. Looking to move the needle somehow, Boeckmann agreed when an employee asked if he could "fix up some of the trucks like the kids are doing." The dealership started adding wild paint jobs, lift kits, big tires, light bars, and more-and sales exploded to more than 25 trucks per month.
Now Galpin is back in the truck-building business. You can buy a Ford truck with a 6-inch Pro Comp suspension lift right off the showroom floor, or you can walk next door to Galpin Auto Sports (one-time home of MTV's Pimp My R ide) and fully customize a rig with everything from a supercharger under the hood to nav, audio, and video inside. Find out more at www.galpin.com.
Mahindra Now Due in February
Earlier in the year we had hoped to see the new diesel-powered Mahindra compact 4x4 pickup by the end of 2009. But industry sources now indicate it'll be February before the trucks go on sale in the U.S. The delays have been caused by changes made to the truck by its India-based manufacturer to make sure it's right for the U.S. market.
By mid-summer more than 300 dealers had signed up to sell Mahindras in the U.S. Guesstimates put the sticker price at $22,000-$25,000 for the base-level two-door 2WD model, and $24,000-$27,000 for the top-of-the-line, four-door, 4WD version.
Explorer Top "Clunker"
During the Cash for Clunkers frenzy in August, the Ford Explorer was turned in as a clunker more often than any other vehicle, according to U.S. News & World Report. In fact, Explorer dominated the top four spots, with the '98 model the most-often-traded-in, followed by the '97, the '96 (seen here), and the '99. Two Jeeps-the Grand Cherokee and Cherokee-occupied the fifth and sixth spots on the list, followed by (you guessed it) more Explorers: the '95 and '94. Two minivans, the Ford Windstar and Dodge Caravan, rounded out the list of the top 10 clunkers.
On the other side of the coin, GM claims it sold the most cars as a result of the Clunkers program, with 18.7 percent of cars purchased under the plan, followed by Toyota with 17.9 percent and Ford with 16 percent.
Limited-edition polaris vehicles
Polaris will offer several limited-edition ATVs and side-by-side vehicles for 2010. Shown here is the Ranger 800 XP LE-Browning Edition with Mossy Oak Break-Up camo on the body panels and wheels, a 4,500-pound winch, gun scabbards, and custom interior. Polaris' Sportsman 550 and 850 ATVs will also get the Browning treatment, while the Ranger 800 XP will also be available in Ocean Blue and Pearl White versions. Visit www.polarisindustries.com for more info on these and other '10 custom models.
LeDucs Dominate Two Short-Courses
First it was Lake Elsinore, in Southern California, where Kyle LeDuc (seen here) and his brother, Todd, earned back-to-back finishes on Saturday and Sunday in the Unlimited 4 and Unlimited 2 classes, respectively. Then the LeDuc boys took their show on the road and did it again at the TORC race in Bark River, Michigan. Kyle earned wins in both Pro 4x4 races, while Todd took second in Saturday's Pro 2WD race and won Sunday's event. Both LeDucs, by the way, race on 35-inch Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires, and both gave a lot of credit to the grip offered by their tires for their victories.
Far East Wheeling
Lift kits, body armor, lights, winches-all standard stuff on an American 4x4, right? Things aren't all that different halfway around the world. China enjoys a booming 4WD enthusiast market. In a recent report by SEMA, several Chinese off-roaders were interviewed about the kinds of modifications they make to their rigs. The parts lists sounded very familiar: 2- and 3-inch lift kits, Warn winches, HID driving lights, Mopar sidesteps, rock rails, rocker guards and BFGoodrich tires. Because most of the 4WD magazines in China are from other countries and not printed in Chinese, off-roaders there rely heavily on enthusiast websites, online social networks, and local parts stores for information about off-road products.
Monster & Suzuki Win Pikes Peak
Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima returned to the Pikes Peak hillclimb this year looking for another victory and a sub-10-minute, record-smashing time. He and his race-prepped Suzuki SX4, which makes nearly 900 hp and 655 lb-ft of torque from a 2,736cc, twin-turbo engine, got their overall win (his fourth consecutive on the mountain) but missed the 10-minute barrier. His winning 10:15.368 time, though, beat Second Place overall finisher Paul Dallenbach by nearly a minute.
New Bridgestone Snow Tire
Bridgestone has introduced a tire to its line of Blizzak winter rubbers. The DM-V1 (which replaces the DM-Z3) is made with Bridgestone's Nano-Pro-Tech rubber compound and Multicell technology to improve grip and disperse surface water. The Multi-Z tread grooves in the center of the tread pattern are designed to increase traction in the snow and on ice. The new DM-V1 is available in 46 sizes, in 75-45 series fitting wheel diameters from 15 to 22 inches.
This Just In
* Larry and Cheri McRae have launched a new website for Poison Spyder Customs. Stop by www.poisonspyder.com for company news, photo galleries, blogs, and, yes, online shopping for body armor, Rocker Knockers, diff covers, and other Poison Spyder protective goods.
* Economic turmoil has put the brakes on a number of new trucks, according to a future-product roundup compiled by trade journal Automotive News. GM, for example, is delaying changes to the Silverado/Sierra light-duty pickups until 2013 or 2014, while redesigns of the HD versions have been pushed back from 2011 to 2012. The fate of the compact Colorado/Canyon pickups is uncertain, as the Louisiana assembly plant that builds the trucks will close in 2012. GM's Brazilian arm is developing a new global compact pickup platform, but it's not clear if that truck will be sold here. GM may, the paper reports, abandon the compact truck market altogether.
* GM's fullsize Tahoe/Yukon SUVs may also disappear, says the report, or be reborn as crossover vehicles. The Suburban/Yukon XL will likely survive, though, because of the big ute's value in the commercial market.
* Hummer has no official long-range plans, pending the completion of its sale to China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company. Once the deal goes through, Hummer officials hope to redesign both the H2 and H3 and add a smaller H4 model to go after the Jeep Wrangler buying segment.
* Ford, unhindered by a bankruptcy filing, is moving ahead with its truck plans, says AN, which include a redesign and new 6.7L V-8 diesel engine for the '10 Super Duty. Changes to the F-150 will be mostly mechanical, as Ford looks to improve its efficiency by adding a 3.5L version of the EcoBoost V-6 for 2010 and possibly a turbocharged four-banger down the road. Like GM, Ford is less certain about what to do with the Ranger. The current version of the compact truck will end in 2011; at that time the company may import a version of the global T6 truck developed for other countries.
* On the SUV side, Ford will discontinue its Explorer Sport Trac after 2010, when the Explorer becomes a front-wheel-drive, unibody CUV. The Expedition will remain in the lineup, though its expected 2012 redesign has been pushed back to 2013.
* The Fordyce Creek Trail in California's Tahoe National Forest is the most recent addition to the Outstanding Trails program run by BFGoodrich in association with Tread Lightly! and United Four Wheel Drive Associations. BFG presented a grant check, to be used for the trail's maintenance, to members of the Friends of Fordyce club at this year's Sierra Trek.
* In the second quarter of 2009, Yamaha contributed more than $110,000 in cash and riding equipment through its OHV access initiative known as GRANT (Guaranteeing Responsible Access to our Nation's Trails). The donations went to ATV riding clubs, national forests, local land managers, recreational conservancy advocates, and other members of the greater OHV community in Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. This latest round of grants brings the total amount of donations Yamaha has made in 2009 to $300,000.
* Our friends at SEMA report that the Oregon House and Senate approved an alternative to legislation that originally sought to prohibit the sale and distribution of aftermarket motor vehicle parts if alternatives were available that "decrease greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles." The legislation, signed into law by Governor Ted Kulongoski, will give the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality the authority to adopt the present California certification process for aftermarket emissions-related parts, allowing parts manufacturers to meet one uniform standard rather than a patchwork of multiple state standards.