There’s nothing quite like wheeling all day. That’s probably why you read this mag and I have this job. Yes, fabrication and obstacle conquering, along with a healthy dose of competition and trail riding, are among the reasons we use our 4x4s, but the bottom line is we love to wheel. So far this year I’ve done well on my resolution to wheel at least once a month. In fact, I’m up to three this month simply because a good spot is on the way to where I was going, and it all just works out like it should.
Luckily, I also covered the Chile Challenge in Las Cruces, New Mexico, which will be presented in the August issue. While there, I had a chance to spend the whole trail day in my very own rent-an-office, a ’71 Jeep CJ-5 loaned to me by Jim Huff, the vendor coordinator for the Las Cruces 4Wheel Drive Club. Jim has been the local 4x4 guru in southern New Mexico for the last 40 years, and I’ve known him for about 30 of those. We’ve raced together and wrenched together, and even swapped parts back when I had my own 4x4 shop before this magazine gig. When Jim said to use his Jeep, I jumped at the chance.
Not often does a rental rolling office come with a sporty Buick 225ci V-6 putting back and forth, trying to make up its mind which odd-fired cylinders to spark. Coupled to a T-98 four-speed with the special low First gear, and a PTO winch off the Dana 18 transfer case, I jumped at the chance to do a little windshield-down, dirt-in-your-face wheeling while showing the kids how it’s done—and it was well worth it. Jason Bunch from Tri-County Gear in Pomona, California, came along and helped with driving duties while I shot photos, and I think we were both still smiling like teenagers even four days after the ride.
That’s the kind of wheeling I truly enjoy, even though go-fast racing, rock-jumping buggies, and gnarly hill scrambling are cool too. But I’ve been there and done that, and really like using the 4x4 as my office for the day, no matter what it is. I just finished a big off-road stint in my Rubicon, with 12 hours of sun, sand, stuck, DED, and working from the hood of the beast. I’ll be spending a lot of time in other 4x4s for the next few months, and I hope to share some of that escapism with video and tracking stuff from the rolling rentals. And if I cruise into your town, let me know what you have to drive; I just might take you up on it.