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March 1998 Drivelines

Posted in Features on March 1, 1998
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Photographers: Alan Huber

'99 Ford F-Series
We can still hear the noises Péwé was making as though it was yesterday-the boy could hardly contain himself as he learned of the all-new '99 Super Duty Series F-250s and F-350s. And who could blame him? There's the new 5.4L Triton V-8, the 6.8L Triton V-10, and the revised 7.3L direct-injection Powerstroke diesel; all-new five- and six-speed manual transmissions or optional 4R100 automatic trans; a solid front axle suspension (4x2s have improved Twin I-Beam); and power disc brakes all around.

But that's not all! There are Regular Cab, SuperCab, and Crew Cab models with shortbed or longbed options; the 4x4s are available with a GVWR up to 12,500 pounds; there's a humongous cab with seating for three across; and there's no resemblance to the F-150, thanks to a new "pronounced power dome hood," flush-mounted headlamps, air inlets alongside the grille, and lowered beltline side window glass (we've heard it called the "Ford Ram").

Since sales of Ford's big pickups have been gaining on those of the GM C/K series, the Super Duty Series ought to make things even more interesting. Next month we'll hit the road with one and let you know what we think.

1998 4xFun Fest Schedule
Looks like we'll be returning for a third time to the home of the monster of all 4xFun Fests, Sandwich, Illinois. It'll be held September 19-20 at the De Kalb County Fairgrounds, which is just moments from Chicago. The other Fun Fest will be at a new venue for us, the International Off-Road Raceway in Crandon, Wisconsin, August 1-2.

Over the next few months, we'll be revealing some special happenings you can expect at the Chevrolet-sponsored 1998 shows. But we can tell you now that the success of previous Fests has been due to the following that each attraction has gained: the Extreme Truck Challenge, the mud bogs, the show'n'shine, and the manufacturers' midway. For more information, contact our Special Events department at 213/782-2341 or fax 402/464-5931.

Campfire Talk
Farmers Insurance Group and Progressive Corporation will be charging drivers in some states higher liability-coverage rates for pickups and SUVs.

Chevy will debut a crewcab shortbed fullsize and a production version of the S-10 "Hugger" truck. We should have more details next month.

Can't afford a 4x4 or simply want a 4x2 for off-roading? Toyota will debut a Tacoma PreRunner, essentially a 4x4 without the front drive assembly and the transfer case. It'll have the same ground clearance and ride height as a 4x4 and will be available with the same features and special packages as the four-by, including the TRD off-road suspension package and an on-demand, full-locking rear diff. The 2.7L four-cylinder will be standard, but you will be able to step up to a V-6 and even 31-inch tires. Toyota also created a TRD package for the T100, the Tacoma, and the 4Runner, which includes a California emissions-legal supercharger, an after-cat exhaust system, off-road coil-over struts, and carbon-metallic brake pads.

Cadillac will produce a fullsize sport/utility based on the Catera platform.

Autoweek reports that J.D. Power's second-annual APEAL survey focused on auto safety and asked consumers what features they wanted in their new vehicles and what those features should cost. Fifty-nine percent wanted ABS at $386; 18 percent wanted traction control for $205; 32 percent voted for a "smart" passenger-side airbag at $176; 23 percent for daytime running lights at $24; and 7 percent for automatic 911 calling for a charge of $50.

Rumors are that the onslaught of consumer demand for sport/utilities (especially the bigger-is-better variety) just might be one of the causes of a potential gas crunch and possibly a global-warming treaty.

Automotive News reports that 1997 will be the last model year for the Land Rover Defender 90. Land Rover opted not to meet a U.S. safety regulation that requires two airbags in all cars and light trucks.

Industry folks say the '99 Suzuki Sidekick will be redesigned with body tweaks (yes, more rounded), a more powerful engine, live-axle/coil-spring rear suspension, and disc brakes at all corners.

'98 Toyota Land Cruiser
It sure seems as though 1998 is developing into the year of big automotive developments, among which is the first major revamp of the Toyota Land Cruiser since 1991. The new model will sport a V-8 based on the one in the Lexus LS400 and independent front suspension (outside the U.S. you will find some solid axles, though). Not only that, the 'Cruiser chassis has been updated and refined with the addition of three crossmembers (now nine versus six); a "floating member" that locates the torsion bar on the frame crossmember to stabilize the IFS and prevent harshness and vibration; and significantly increased wheel articulation.

The Toyota will once again feature full-time, two-speed four-wheel drive mated to a four-speed auto tranny (a five-speed manual trans can be ordered outside the U.S.). The full-locking rear differential will again be an option, but unfortunately, the design of the IFS forced the front differential locker to be discontinued. ABS will be operational in low range, even with the center diff locked.

PhotosView Slideshow

Fun Facts To Know And Tell
Toyota History
•Number of years Toyota has been selling trucks and cars in America: 40
•Year the Toyota BJ was delivered to the U.S. Army: 1950
•Year the Toyota BJ was renamed Land Cruiser: 1954
•Year the Land Cruiser was first exported to America: 1958
•Designation of FJ-55 replacement, the third-generation Land Cruiser wagon: FJ-60
•Model years of the FJ-60: 1981-1990
•Year the FJ-62 was introduced: 1985
•Year the FJ-62 received fuel injection: 1987
•Year the fourth-generation Land Cruiser was introduced: 1991
•Designation of '91 Land Cruiser: FJ-80
•Year the fifth-generation Land Cruiser was introduced: 1998
•Designation of the '98 Land Cruiser: UZJ100

Swamper Spied
We recently spied these 35x14.50R15LT Super Swamper TSL street tires hidden from people like us at a trade show. Cool!

Carlisle 1998 Events
Some of the can't-miss shows held every year are thrown by Carlisle Productions (Dept. 4WOR, 1000 Bryn Mawr Rd., Carlisle, PA 17013-1588, 717/243-7855, Web site They feature parts, supplies, accessories, antiques, competitions, seminars, memorabilia, and more, so plan your year around the following dates:

Apr. 23-26 Spring Carlisle Collector Car Swap
Meet & Corral
May 1-2 Spring Antiques and Collectibles
(tentative) at Carlisle
May 8-10 Carlisle Import-Kit/Replicar Nation-
als and Custom Compact Power Jam
May 15-17 Spring Mid-West Collector Car
Swap Meet & Corral
June 5-7 Carlisle All-Ford Nationals
June 19-21 Carlisle All-Truck Nationals
July 10-12 Chryslers at Carlisle
July 24-26 Summer Carlisle
Aug. 28-30 Corvettes at Carlisle
Sept. 11-13 Fall Mid-West Collector Car Swap
Meet & Corral
Sept. 18-19 Autumn Antiques and Collectibles
(tentative) at Carlisle
Oct. 1-4 Fall Carlisle Collector Car Swap
Meet & Corral

Kia Wins In Score Series
A Don-A-Vee Motorsports-prepped Kia Sportage snagged the Class 3 title in the '97 SCORE Desert Championship Series. Driver Darren Skilton piloted his short-wheelbase sport/ute to wins in five out of seven races and was one of only 13 vehicles to finish every mile of the race in 1997. He smoked his competition-a Nissan Pathfinder, a Chevy Blazer, an Isuzu Amigo, a Ford Bronco, and a Jeep CJ-7-with only a four-cylinder DOHC engine; the others were stuffed with a V-6 or a V-8.

1998 Sidekick Calendar
Rick Russell might be luckier than anyone else we know. He gets to travel all over the country photographing trail rides, Jamborees, races, and shows (hmmm, why does that sound so familiar?), and for nine years now he has produced the Sidekick Off Road Event Calendar. In addition to posting the dates of 130 different events, there are snapshots of action from some of the biggies, including the Rubicon, Moab, South Dakota, and the Fordyce Creek Trail.

The calendar is available at off-road-accessory stores or by sending $10 ($7.95 plus $2.05 tax/postage) to Sidekick Off Road Maps, Dept. 4WOR, 12188 Central Ave., Ste. 352, Chino, CA 91710, 909/628-7227, Web site

Quote Of The Month
This one comes courtesy of the Dec. 15 issue of Newsweek:

"My problems start when the smarter bears and the dumber visitors intersect."
-Yosemite National Park official Steve Thompson, on the damage caused by hungry bears tearing into campers' parked cars in search of food. Last year, scavenging bears broke into 600 cars.

Remember a few months back when we told you about the "discrimination" some dealers felt about not getting their hands on the hot-selling Lincoln Navigator? Ford will now make the SUV available to all Lincoln dealers.

Should you wish to have an airbag on/off switch installed, the federal government has a few requests. You must sign sign a document stating that you will be driving enough children around that one will be forced to sit in front of an airbag; airbag deployment would worsen an existing medical condition of someone in your family; and that you sit closer than 10 inches from the steering wheel. It'll run you about $150 for the switch.

Oops-our typing skills aren't what they used to be. In January's "Body Buyer's Guide," Durabak's e-mail address should have been (that's cote-l with the letter L, not the number 1). Ditto for the Web site Jeep Giveaway As part of the Big O Tires Buyer's Fair running from January 1 to February 18, a product purchase will net dealers a chance to score a '97 Jeep TJ. The raffle will take place at the Big O Tires annual convention in San Antonio, Texas.

Jeep Giveaway
As part of the Big O Tires Buyer's Fair running from January 1 to February 18, a product purchase will net dealers a chance to score a '97 Jeep TJ. The raffle will take place at the Big O Tires annual convention in San Antonia, Texas.
Among the big-name aftermarket goodies on the Jeep are Dick Cepek 4-inch Race Series II suspension and shocks, a 9000XDi Warn winch and mounting system, Smittybilt front and rear double tube bumpers and side step bars, Carr diamond-plate corner guards and rocker panels, Steel Horse rear storage boxes and center console, a Dick Cepek windshield lightbar and lights, and custom graphics and paint by Car Cuts By Barber.

Big O Tires stores are located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and Canada.

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