Back in the Dec. '09 issue (4xForward), I asked for ideas for the 2010 Ultimate Adventure, and boy, did we get them! The ideas ranged from whacky to wicked, and quite a few of you were thinking along the same lines.
Of all the responses gathered, the most prevailing was that the trip should be approachable for the regular reader, the reader who can't afford to take a week or two off work, travel cross-country, wheel like crazy, break his or her junk, and then go home.
Some of the comments suggested having readers tag along for sections of the trip, or travel the whole thing if they wanted. Other readers (like my mom) wanted the ability to just ride as a passenger for a day along the way, either on the street or trail.
Keeping the cost down was of high importance to many, such as limiting the build to a $2,599 maximum. The issue with this, of course, is that tires and wheels alone-not to mention the mandated safety equipment-could exceed that limit.
But the other thing that emerged from the responses was that readers read about the UA for the wild rides, not their own daily driver. One went as far as to note that guys read Playboy to see perfect girls, not cankles and muffin tops. Well, I guess he has a point.
Another idea was to change up the mix of sponsors, readers, and alumni. A few noted that it seems like a bunch of rich guys going out for a week with $50,000 buggies, even though that is far from the truth. In fact, most everyone is broke or will be, and the rigs are not simply wallet jobs but actually built by the readers.
Overall, a theme kept coming up in the letters, which was that readers love the UA and only want to see it tuned up. For example, limiting it to tires that are 33-37 inches, which would make some of the easier trails that much more difficult. It would also tend to bring out the driver of the group, as it takes a bit more skill to wheel under-tired rides or those with little engines and no gearing.
Of course, we could take that to the extreme as well, such as only stock Isuzu Troopers with open diffs and stock street tires, but then who would want to watch it besides die-hard Isuzu owners?
No, we'll keep the somewhat extreme rides as an inspiration or blueprint for others, but we will be paying more attention to the street-legal aspect. As we note in our rules, legality is the responsibility of the driver, since 4WOR is not responsible for you. It should be noted that the Fun Buggy is an approved, inspected, and legal vehicle in the state of California, and due to state reciprocity laws it should be legal in any other state too. (We'll let you know how that goes.)
The final answer? The UA will be different this year, and we think you'll still like it as much if not more. Though we're not ready to require 35-inch or smaller tires on everyone's rig, we will be stepping back from the massive rubber of years past on our own Official UA 4x4 just to keep it in perspective, and because we love the challenge.
We want you to send in your entry, even if it isn't a megadollar monster truck. Don't expect the trails to get any easier though (bring a good winch). As for requiring a small budget, we'll save that for the return of our Cheap Truck Challenge buildups. And if nothing else, we'll have more web coverage of the event on 4wheeloffroad.com, so you can say "Hey!" if we cruise into your town or trail. Here's to hoping we do!