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February 1998 Drivelines

Posted in Features on February 1, 1998
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Photographers: Courtesy GM

Could this be the most popular vehicle for 1998? You'd think so if you worked here-our phone lines have been ringing off the hook from people looking for information on the ARO 24, the East European Imports' SUV with an MSRP of $12,997. There are three model lines, the Base, the Sport, and the Safari, and even a fully loaded Safari runs less than $20,000.

All three models have a V-6 3.0L engine and your choice of a five-speed manual transmission or a three-speed auto tranny. Suspensionwise, they have a coil-sprung IFS and a multileaf rear. There's seating for five, and standard features include air conditioning, a front grilleguard, an electrical outlet for a trailer towing harness, and a skidplate. The Sport comes with a luggage rack, tube steps, and upgraded wheels, while the Safari has four PIAA lights on the front bar. All ARO 24s can be outfitted with leather seats and metallic paint.

To learn more about the AROs, call 888/ARO-4BY4 or visit the Web site at

Calendar Notes
Get out your Year at a Glance: The Off-Road Sportsman Challenge Series will hold the inaugural event for the '98 Point Series Championship in Florida February 7-9. For an entry form and information, contact Bill Gaylord, Director, Dept. 4WOR, 6065 Roswell Rd. NE, Ste. 1158, Atlanta, GA 30328, 770/837-2242, fax 770/844-0059.

The stadium-style Protruck Off-Road Series racing season schedule has been announced. If you need to know more than just when and where, contact Protruck Racing Organization, Dept. 4WOR, 9419 Abraham Way, Ste. B, Santee, CA 92071-2854, 619/449-6252, fax 619/449-6470, Web site

The 10th anniversary Four Wheel Drive Hands On Safety Clinic will be held May 2-3 at the Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area in California. Esprit De Four will provide classroom instruction; stair step, frame twister, and hillclimb exercises; and trail training. Contact Eric Osborne, Safety Clinic Chairman, 510/794-9067, Web site

Feb. 28 Las Vegas Sam Boyd Stadium
Mar. 28 Los Angeles Los Angeles Coliseum
April 11 Albuquerque New Mexico State University Stadium
May 16 Seattle Tacoma Dome
May 23 Denver Mile High Stadium
TBA Tempe (near Phoenix) Sun Devil Stadium

Cars Of The Stars
The Oct. '97 issue of In Style magazine features a special section called Star and Driver, which includes a Who Drives What list. So, who does drive what? Among In Style's revelations:

Andre Agassi Hummer John F. Kennedy Jr. Pontiac GTO convertible
Tim Allen Corvette Olivia Newton-John Ford Explorer
Drew Carey Mazda Miata Brad Pitt Ford Explorer
Kevin Costner Shelby Mustang Dennis Rodman Hummer
Ellen DeGeneres '71 Mercedes David Schwimmer Ford Bronco
Johnny Depp Chevy truck Alicia Silverstone Land Rover
Hugh Grant Volvo 960 Steven Spielberg Toyota Land Cruiser
Michael Keaton '56 Ford pickup John Travolta Rolls Royce

Fun Facts to Know and Tell
Stuff to Make You Look Smart
•Maker of first Jeep: American Bantam Company
•Where first Jeep was made: Butler, Pennsylvania
•Upholstery used in the '30s and '40s: Mohair and Bedford cord
•Company that has made engines for land, sea, and air: Mercedes
•Land, sea, and air are represented on Mercedes in what way: Three-point star
•Color of the first tires: White
•What the BMW logo is designed to represent: A spinning propeller
•The company that made both guns and motorcycles for WWI and WWII: Royal Enfield
•The first motorcycle brand made in Japan: Harley-Davidson

Could the Government Take Away Your Beater?
H.B. 549 has been introduced in Ohio to allow township zoning inspectors to remove "junk" vehicles from private property, and then obtain a salvage certificate of title and scrap the vehicles as part of the township's nuisance abatement authority. Under the bill, the zoning inspector would notify the owners or lienholders of confiscated vehicles by certified mail, who could then reclaim the vehicles upon payment of any expenses incurred during its removal and storage, by presenting proof of ownership.

Inspectors would be allowed to dispose of unclaimed vehicles to salvage dealers or scrap-metal processing facilities or to sell the vehicles at public auction. Owners or lienholders whose last known address is the same as the address from which the vehicle was removed would not receive notice of the vehicle's removal and could not reclaim it.

First Look
'99 Chevrolet and GMC Fullsize Pickups
Bid adios to the C/K series-the new trucks from GM will be known as the Chevrolet Silverado and the GMC Sierra. The fullsizes will be available with a new generation of small-block V-8s based on the '97 Corvette's. The cast-iron Vortec 4.8L V-8 will make 255 hp at 5,200 rpm and 285 lb-ft torque at 4,000 rpm; the Vortec 5.3L V-8, 265 hp at 5,000 rpm and 320 lb-ft torque at 2,800 rpm; and the Vortec 6.0L V-8, 300 hp at 5,000 and 350 lb-ft torque at 3,600 rpm. GM hasn't introduced a new truck V-8 since the big-block in 1965.

But what about the new look? Well, these are illustrations, so they're slightly exaggerated, but make no mistake-the '99s are the largest light-duty truck body GM has produced yet. The cab is bigger, with more headroom than any other in its class. Other interior notes are an instrument cluster with a Driver Message Center that displays the status of 19 vehicle functions, and an audible turn signal reminder. The third door remains for the new model year.

The transmissions have received an overhaul, and there's a choice of a manual shift transfer case or an active transfer case available on the up-level trim package.

New Sport/Utility Magazine
Yes, they're all the craze. Heck, most of our news this month is about them. Therefore, the newest member of Petersen's Truck Group is SUV Power. The bimonthly offers up tips on performance and customizing of both four- and two-wheel drives. There will also be new-vehicle road tests, hop-up and towing hints, buyer's guides, installation how-tos, and SUV makeovers for street and trail. Look for it at your fave newsstand.

Campfire Talk
Saturn is considering adding an SUV to its lineup, and Mitsubishi is said to be mulling over designing another trucklike vehicle for the U.S. market. Word is that Ford is working on a small sport/ute for Brazil-rumored to be known in-house as the Amazon. And Porsche is talking sport/ute for 2001.

Strategic Vision's Total Value, Best of the Best study revealed the leaders to be the Ford Expedition for fullsize sport/utility; the Mitsubishi Montero for midsize sport/utility; the Dodge Ram for fullsize pickup; and the Toyota Tacoma, the Ford Ranger, the Mazda B series, and the Dodge Dakota in a tie for compact pickup.

Our sister magazine Motor Trend has named the Mercedes-Benz ML320 its 1998 Truck of the Year.

Land-closure alert: The Blue Point Bridge on the lower Salt River in Arizona has been fenced off.

Next month, we'll give you a first-look at the '99 Ford Super Duty-we're talking solid front axle and rear disc brakes. Cool.

The Isuzu Trooper Owners Guild (ITOG) is now accepting owners of all Isuzu-built sport/utilities, including the Rodeo, the Honda Passport, and the Amigo in the U.S.; the VehiCross and the Bighorn in Japan; the Frontera and the Vauxhall Monterey in the UK; the Opel Monterey in Europe; the Caribe and the Chevrolet Trooper in Central and South America; and the Panther in Indonesia. The $15 annual dues will net you service tips, trip reports, parts availability, aftermarket information, a newsletter, full access to the ITOG Web site, a window decal, and a pin. Information: The Isuzu Trooper Owners Guild, Dept. 4WOR, 26 Houston Dr., Pelham, AL 35124-2508, 205/663-5800, Web site

Brake company Brembo S.p.A. and Continental AG have joined forces to develop an electronic brake system, which is also known as brake-by-wire. There would be no more need for hydraulic master cylinders and the accompanying plumbing, which would lighten the load and increase space in the vehicle.

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