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March 1998 4xForward

Posted in Features on March 1, 1998
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Photographers: Ed Fortson

History is cool. And our 20th anniversary gave Tori Tellem a big excuse to dig through piles of old photos, notes, and magazines to remind us (and you) where 4-Wheel & Off-Road came from.

As our first cover proudly displayed, we were a spin-off from Hot Rod magazine, which, up until then, had covered 4x4 points of interest in addition to race and show cars and even motorcycles. Our editorial content ran rampant with coverage of all sorts of events, articles on weird 4x4s, tech articles, and some very strange feature articles that reminded the current staff of the crazy corporate antics of the '70s. In 1979, we did our first 4x4 of the Year contest. We did a bunch of one-shots of 4-Wheel & Off-Road, including one issue with 40 pages of vehicle tests. We had tons of stories in the early days about buggy building, including a 24-hour buggy buildup. We featured Dick Landy's '75 Dodge Colt with a turbocharged Colt mill. We did April Fools' insert issues, featured a Datsun 260Z with Ford power, and road tested a Russian Lada Niva.

While I enjoyed the articles in this issue that recapped our 20-year existence, reading them was a bit like watching my favorite childhood movie as a grownup. It's just not the same. Monster trucks and Corvette Summer just aren't as cool two decades down the road. And, just like you don't want to see John Travolta crawl back into a disco leisure suit, you probably don't want us to slip into a retro phase. Don't worry, it's not going to happen. Our idea of cool retro is a flatfender with a 225 Buick V-6, Hudson steering, and Lincoln brakes. I'm going to make plenty of you mad with this one: Don't expect any of the old trends (monster trucks, over-chromed show trucks, cars on truck chassis, and so on) to make a comeback. In fact, it is safe to say that you've seen your last chromed shock in 4-Wheel & Off-Road. That's a pretty gutsy statement considering that there are still a few show and monster truck builders out there (and our 4xFun Fests even have a place for show trucks to be exhibited), but these trucks are not the driving force of this magazine. This doesn't mean you won't see nicely painted rigs-we'll just skip the gaudy ones. The current rage in the four-wheel-drive market is-thankfully-useful trucks that you and I actually own. It's the rig in your driveway that has two axles and a transfer case in between. It doesn't have to be pretty, just functional. And you and I can build these trucks to be even more useful. To meet the needs of those of you with real-world rigs, we're filling these pages more than ever with tech articles ranging from simple upgrades to radical, almost dream-like, cutting-edge innovations. We're also bringing you the most interesting rigs we run across-some of which are nice-looking, real-world rigs, while others are beaters with substantial mechanical improvements. To showcase readers using their real-world rigs, we cap off each issue with coverage of the best events we can find.

-Cole Quinnell

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