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December 2010 Drivelines

Posted in Features on December 1, 2010
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Not long after GM said that its new 6.6L Duramax diesel V-8 would produce 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of peak torque-thus edging by Ford's new 6.7L Power Stroke diesel-Ford engineers announced that software upgrades for the 'Stroke would raise its output to an even 400 hp and 800 lb-ft. Better still, these upgrades would be available free of charge to customers who have already purchased '11 Super Duty trucks with the less-powerful diesel.

Diesel Horsepower War Heats Up-Again!
The upgrade program began in August and will run for a year; Super Duty owners can have the reprogramming done at their local Ford dealership.

Ford wasn't forthcoming with exactly what changed with the software upgrade, but a press release from the company noted that the results from a 250,000-mile durability test "opened the door" for the Super Duty's increased capability. What that probably means is that the engineers initially took a conservative approach in tuning the truck to make sure it would live for a quarter-million miles or so. Once the engine passed that test, they were free to turn up the wick a bit for better numbers.

So far there's been no response by The General, but you can assume its engine designers were equally conservative with the Duramax's initial power ratings, so there could be more power available with the right ECU tuning. We're sure, too, that aftermarket tuners are already hard at work doing the same thing.

eBay Wants Your Opinions
You know the kind of discussions you have around the campfire or over beers: Who makes the best truck? Which trail is toughest? Is Megan Fox hot or not? Well, now you can have those conversations and more online, thanks to eBay Motors. Starting in August, the website launched its Peoples Picks Survey, giving enthusiasts the opportunity to express their opinions to the entire eBay community. Opinion polling will be conducted in 10 categories, and voters are encouraged to continue their discussions using their favorite social media, such as the forums on our very own Check out the action at

Local Motors Open House
Local Motors, the innovative manufacturing company in which car owners and enthusiasts will gather to build their own Rally Fighter vehicles, held an open house this summer at its Phoenix facility. The event drew some 400 people to tour the microfactory and watch a Rally Fighter make some demonstration drives.

You can learn more about Local Motors and its plan for collaborative vehicle manufacturing at

Editor Péwé Inducted Into Hall Of Fame
Among the five inductees to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame for 2010 is our own fearless leader, Rick Péwé. "Singling out Rick Péwé's most significant impact on off-roading is difficult as his contributions reach into virtually all aspects of the sport," noted the committee. "The one overriding aspect of his contributions probably involves his nature of grounded teaching that has made him an influencer of trends and a motivator of passion in each of the positions he has held within the industry. From being a 4x4 counterman to owning his own shop to working alongside magazine editors and ultimately becoming the Editor-in-Chief of Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, Rick has always quietly taught his 'children' (who now number in the tens of thousands) in the ways of proper 'wheeling. The influence of his teaching has affected trail-ride Jeep style and function, has helped create several 4x4 competitions, and has been a call to action for magazine readers and advertisers to become more involved in making off-road vehicles more pure and more functional."

Rick finds himself in some pretty good company this year. Other 2010 nominees for the Hall of Fame include KC HiLites founder Peter K. Brown, pioneering land-use advocate Eugene "Gene" Chappie, Baja Off Road Tours owner Chris Haines, and legendary off-road racer Johnny Johnson.

For more information about the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, visit

This Just In
Each year, trade journal Automotive News polls its industry contacts to learn about future product development. The newspaper's recent crystal-ball gazing has turned up the following tidbits.

•Ford will put two V-6s in '11 F-150s: the 3.7L found in the Mustang and the 3.5L EcoBoost, both with six-speed automatic transmissions.
•An all-new F-150 is coming for 2015 or 2016.
•It looks like the '11 Ranger will be the last, and plans for a future compact Ford pickup are "uncertain."
•Since Super Duty just went through a major redesign, no changes are planned until the '14 model year.

•GM will put a natural-gas engine in the Silverado/Sierra for 2012 and redesign the pickups for 2014.
•Plans to put the Tahoe/ Yukon on a crossover platform (as Ford did with the Explorer) have been shelved; instead the SUVs will remain on a large-truck platform and be redesigned for 2014 along with the pickups.
•GM will discontinue its compact Colorado/Canyon pickups in 2012 and, like Ford, has no solid plans for a replacement. Look for a compact car (!) from GMC, based on the Granite concept vehicle, for 2013.

•Jeep will follow the introduction of the new Grand Cherokee with a "freshened" '11 Wrangler later this year. The Wrangler will get the Pentastar V-6 as well as new hardtops color-keyed to the Jeep's body.
•Liberty will be replaced by a Fiat-based vehicle in 2013.
•Plans for an all-electric Wrangler (remember the ENVI prototype?) have been shelved, with Chrysler opting instead to improve its CAFE numbers with smaller vehicle platforms powered by efficient, Fiat-based internal combustion engines.

•Ram 1500 trucks will be revised for 2012 and will also be offered with the Pentastar V-6.
•A Cummins diesel for 1500 models is under consideration.
•Dakota will go away next year and may be replaced by a smaller, Fiat-based unibody pickup.

Earth Watch
•The Tread Lightly! online land-use awareness course has gone through a major overhaul, the first since the course was developed in 2003. Tread Lightly! 101 now includes the updated TREAD principles, expanded learning scenarios, and more coverage of activities such as horseback riding, hunting, and shooting. The course takes about 30 minutes, and everyone who completes it is entered to win a free Cabela's hat. Go to and click on the "101 Online Course" link.

•In case your memory of the Tread Lightly! TREAD principles is a little rusty (ours was, shame on us), here you go: Travel and recreate with minimum impact; Respect the environment and the rights of others; Educate yourself, plan, and prepare before you go; Allow for future use of the outdoors by leaving it better than you found it; Discover the rewards of responsible recreation.

Wisconsin Declares War On Military Vehicles
That may be overstating it a bit, but we hear from our friends at SEMA that Wisconsin's Department of Transportation was considering a proposal to restrict the registration of former military vehicles. In response, the SEMA Action Network is backing counter-legislation that would allow former military vehicles to be registered and operated in a manner similar to antique vehicles registered in the state; that is, driven only on special occasions and for the purpose of testing, maintenance, and storage. The legislation's definition of former military vehicle includes vehicles that were manufactured for any country's military force, so long as they are maintained to accurately represent their military design and markings.

Battles Fought In W.E. Rock Western Finals
There's nothing predictable about the W.E. Rock racing series. While some events are dominated by a single driver, the Western Finals, held at the Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, marked the fourth W.E. Rock race in a row with a different Unlimited and Pro Modified winner than in the previous events.

At the end of the Unlimited Shootout, Dion Wakefield got by Brent Bradshaw in a very close finish. In the Pro Modified class, Jesse Haines claimed the win over Nick Campbell, taking it down to the wire and winning with his shootout score.

New at this event was the Dueling Shootout, where W.E. Rock put a Pro Modified car on one course and an Unlimited car on an adjacent course and gave them six minutes (instead of 10) to finish the course while also battling against each other. "This was very exciting to watch and will be something we will definitely see more of in the future," said Rich Klein, W.E. Rock promoter.

W.E. Rock's season finale and the crowning of the Western Champions took place at the Grand Nationals, hosted at Miller Motorsports Park, October 1-2. Some 60 rockcrawlers from all over the country were slated to compete.

Mystery Pickup A Mahindra Mule
Eagle-eyed reader Christian Dickerson snapped a photo of a prototype pickup truck near Golden, Colorado. "It is a compact truck; however, it looked like it was riding on 1-ton axles. Also, on the front fender the badge read, 'Powered by Fire-hawk.' It looks to me like an International, but is it military, and were those 1-ton axles?"

Compare Dickerson's on-the-fly spy shot to this factory photo and you can plainly see that he caught a Mahindra pickup. What looked like 1-ton axles were (we hope) necessitated by all the torque coming from the diesel engine under the 'Hindra's hood. Could "Firehawk" be a camo red herring or the brand Mahindra will use to market its powerplant? Pontiac is dead, but we'd guess GM still holds the trademark on the Firehawk name.

BFGoodrich Wins X Games Gold Granted, Tanner Foust's Ford Fiesta isn't the kind of off-roader we usually feature, but we thought this was cool. At the recent X Games in Southern California he won a gold medal in the Rally Car class, and then went on to bag another gold in the SuperRally event. Foust and his competitors weren't just sliding around dirt berms. His Ford, and its BFG g-Force Rally tires, also had to survive 70-foot jumps to win both races.

Orange Madness! What sounds like a new smoothie flavor is actually a limited-edition Sportsman XP 850 ATV from Polaris. The $9,999 ATV features Polaris' Electronic Power Steering, 14-inch cast aluminum wheels, and an 8.2-gallon Lock & Ride front storage box. This is one of several limited-edition ATVs and side-by-sides recently introduced by Polaris for 2011, each tailored for a specific outdoor niche. While orange looks good in photos, we're drawn to the Browning Edition, another Sportsman XP 850 with Pursuit camo, a 2,500-pound winch, work lights, and a gun scabbard. Find out about all the new Polaris models at

New Camper Trailers from Mopar
In an industry first, Jeep-branded camper trailers are now available through Mopar, Chrysler's performance parts division. For "casual" campers (Jeep's word) there's the Jeep Trail Edition camper, with all-aluminum construction, trailing-arm suspension, 32-inch BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain tires, 12 inches of ground clearance, and an available pintle hitch (a 2-inch ball is standard). If your wheeling is more hardcore, the Jeep Extreme Trail Edition camper offers a heavier frame, 15 inches of clearance, 35-inch BFGs, full skidplates, and high-mounted fenders. Both campers are fitted with Wrangler Rubicon 17-inch aluminum wheels with the 5-on-5 bolt pattern, so they can use most Jeeps' spare tires.

When the aluminum top is unfolded, there's 76 inches of headroom inside. A queen bed and a foldout sofa will hold four campers.

The trailers are available as Mopar accessories through Jeep dealers. The MSRP for the Trail Edition camper is $9,995; the Extreme Trail Edition sells for $11,995. Both are available in several colors.

•Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Mojave Road Adventure, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,
•Nov. 6: Stoddard 250 desert race, Barstow, CA, by Mojave Desert Racing. Info:
•Nov. 12-14: Bronco Daze, Palm Canyon Resort, Borrego Springs CA. Info:
•Nov. 12-14: USMC Birthday Bash & Veteran's Day Run, Superlift ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR. Info: 501/625-3600,
•Nov. 13-14: Beginning Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,
•Nov. 15-16: Getting Started Off-Road 4x4 Skills Clinic, Hungry Valley SVRA near Gorman, CA, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures. Info: 310.374.8047,
•Nov. 17-21: SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race, Ensenada to La Paz, Baja California, Mexico. Info: 818-225-8402,

•Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info-phone numbers and/or email/website address-to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 310.531.9368; email Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.

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