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March 1998 Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on March 1, 1998
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2-Wheel & Off-Road
I am an avid reader of your magazine and have been happy with all of the info that your magazine provides, but this time I have to agree with another reader. The name of the magazine alone leads us to believe that your publication is for four-wheel-drive owners. I, along with Josh Davenport (Letters, Dec. '97), believe you should stick with stories and updates on four-wheel-drive vehicles. I think there are more than enough magazines already out there for those other vehicle owners.
Kevin VanHoozier
Kansas City, KS

This letter concerns the two-wheel-drive hangup letter in the Dec. '97 issue. C'mon Josh, two-wheel drives are off-road vehicles too. My first trail bouncing, mud slinging rig was a '70-something mail carrier Jeep with a weak little Chevy four-cylinder engine and a two-speed transmission. It was lots of fun. I'm not saying that the hangtime two-wheel drives are anything like an old mail carrier, but surely I'm not the only guy who eventually bought a four-wheel drive because of a love affair that began with off-roading in a two-wheel drive.
Ray Jackson
Ft. Payne, AL

We have to agree with you, Ray. If you're into off-roading, then you can admire the tech in any vehicle used off-road-that includes two-wheel drives, motorcycles, and buggies. If you dig into most off-roaders' backgrounds far enough, you'll find that their love affairs with four-wheel drives stem from some combination of automotive affection and an appreciation for the outdoors. For some, it was successfully getting the tractor through the fields without getting stuck; others learned how to drive the family car on dirt roads. The first vehicle I ever buried in mud off-road was my dad's '71 Dodge Crestwood station wagon.

More Mud
I love the magazine, but there are too many sissy 1/2-ton trucks and wimpy Jeeps doing all that sissy rockcrawling. I would much rather see trucks that can spin 44-inch tires in 4 feet of mud and still drive home. I'm 16 years old and my dad is a farmer in Illinois. He has a 3/4-ton and two 1-ton Chevy pickups to handle all the work on the farm. I'd like to see a shootout with some big-time beef: the three 1-ton, heavy-duty trucks from Ford, GM, and Dodge. Outfit them with the biggest gas engines available, or get them with diesel engines. Instead of on rocks, test them in mud, daily driving, and towing.
Paul Gambiani
Lakeside, AZ

Sure like that word sissy, don't you Paul? You must have missed the feature on Brian Purchaser's '80 dualie ("Rainbow Warrior," Oct. '97). We were also happy to bring you all those big trucks playing in the mud in Oregon and Louisiana ("Mud, Glop, Goo...," May '97, and "Crawdads & Gumbo," Jan. '97). In short, we like to play in the mud too. As for the rockcrawling, you have to try it before you knock it. As a final note, your idea of a three-by-1-ton shootout is a good one. We may try to put that together for a future issue. The new F-350 Super Duty from Ford certainly ups the ante for 1-ton trucks (you can read more about that truck in this month's Drivelines)

Inexpensive Land Cruiser
In the Sept. '97 Drivelines, you indicated that the Toyota Land Cruiser will use a 4.7L V-8 in place of the old straight-six, which recently underwent an extensive upgrade to become a high-tech engine. I know that a V-8 is more compact, allowing a larger crumple zone in the front of the vehicle; that it probably will be made of a lighter material to save weight; and that it will be a larger displacement engine. I would like to know what possible advantages the V-8 will have over the straight-six in terms of off-road ability. I would use the truck for getting to work on icy roads and for slogging through muddy trails while deer hunting.

Frankly, I miss my '83 FJ-60, which I totalled on an icy freeway. Why doesn't Toyota build a simpler Land Cruiser and let Lexus build the LX450 for soft-in-the-seat aficionados?
Ricardo Alvillar
Grand Forks, ND

The primary improvement for your use will be better power. The old straight-six produced really good torque but fell short on horsepower. The V-8 still produces good torque but much better horsepower. From a manufacturing standpoint, there are several reasons to use a V-8. Packaging (as you noted) is one, but the new design is also more efficient. As for your wish for an inexpensive 'Cruiser, we hear your pleas, but don't expect them to be fulfilled soon. On the other hand, if the ARO makes a dent in U.S. 4x4 sales, we think you may see many manufacturers gearing up to produce no-nonsense, practical, capable, and affordable four-wheelers.

Rare FC
In your July '97 story "Best 4x4s of All Time," you figure any crew-cab shortbed ranks as one of the coolest pickups ever. Jeep Forward Control pickups were also high in the ranking. So I was wondering, do two cools cancel out each other, or do they just double into super cool?

This '64 Jeep FC-170 crew cab (or M-677 to the military) is my dream machine. This model seems to be a limited-production military secret, since no one knows exactly how many were made (or perhaps their memories were erased by the same government agencies that are hiding all those UFOs). I wanted the FC because my dad had one when I was in kindergarten. I began my search after college, and ultimately found the perfect truck just an hour from home. After a lot of work, it's finally on the road. Now it's a daily driver except when it breaks, which is often.

The truck currently has a 170ci Cerlist inline three-cylinder, two-stroke, supercharged diesel/multifuel engine. The trans is a Borg-Warner T90, the T-case is a Spicer 18, and I've added a Warn overdrive. The front axle is a Dana 44 and the rear is a Dana 53, both with 4.89 gears.

To me, the Jeep's perfect and really cool. In fact, I'm trying to start a Jeep Forward Control Registry, and I'd appreciate it if you'd put my address in the magazine so other owners can write me.
Fred Williams
Forward Control Registry
P.O. Box 10463
Greensboro, NC 27404

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