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The Return of our Cheap Truck Challenge

Posted in Features on August 1, 2012
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If you’re sitting in English class, math class, science class, or whatever class in high school reading this magazine rather than studying, then this next section is for you. We’re talking about the latest installment of Cheap Truck Challenge. Maybe you are about to get (or just got) your driver’s license and want something cheap to drive. We’re here to help.

We’re going to be brutally honest: Four-wheeling isn’t an inexpensive sport like Frisbee or swimming, but it doesn’t require a trust fund to have fun either. Most of you need a good, reliable vehicle to get you back and forth from your burger flipping, lawn mowing, pizza delivering, or grocery bagging job. But you also want it to be the ultimate mud bashing, rock crashing, desert exploding, deep-woods camping, hunting, and partying monster machine. And of course it needs to impress your buddies and the opposite sex when you roll into town for a choco-shake and large fries on Friday night. We also know darn well Mom and Dad need to approve that bucket-o-bolts their baby will be rattling around town in, so some semblance of safety needs to be considered.

So what is a broke teenager supposed to get behind the wheel of, without breaking the bank, or breaking parts every time he goes playing in the dirt after dark, down that country road, behind Old Man Shmedly’s farm on the edge of town? The options are limitless, but you need to combine cash, research, elbow grease, and ingenuity. And we’re going to play right along with you.

This month we’ve got two stories. One is a buyer’s guide of great first 4x4s that can be had on a punk kid budget and still make great platforms for daily driver and weekend (or weeknight) wheeling machines. Boss man Péwé will also lay down some of his years of knowledge on his own Cheap Truck Challenge buildup. The rules of the challenge are simple. He has $2,012 to purchase a vehicle and $2,012 to make it into a respectable, street-legal, great-performing off-road machine. Think $4,024 is too much? Well, next month I will build a budget beater as well, and then Péwé and I will run them head to head in an off-road shootout during which the lower price paid for vehicle and parts will garner extra points. Points are also garnered for ride and drive, off-road aptitude, best paintjob, loudest radio and exhaust, long jump contest, sex appeal, fuel economy, drag race, and general ability to cause mayhem. Think 4x4 of the Year but with low-buck beaters instead of brand spanking new $30K-$40K wheelers. We may even have some celebrity judges to keep it fair. Dream trucks and mega-dollar whiz-bang parts are cool, but for many, cheap rules and ugly is awesome.

Our second story this month is Feature Editor Ali Mansour’s rundown on the best budget buys. Now quit screwing around and pay attention to the teacher. You need good grades to make something of yourself, otherwise you’ll be cheap truck challenged until the day you die or, worse, you’ll end up a magazine writer.

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