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Firing Order: How Long Have You Owned Your 4x4?

Posted in Features on December 13, 2016
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One of the stories in this issue is a fascinating look at Four Wheeler Technical Editor Verne Simons’ ’49 Willys CJ-3A. One of the cool things about the rig is that he has owned it for 17 years. That’s an impressive length of time. I’ve seen Verne in that 4x4 more than any other rig, and the result is that when I think of Verne, I think of that CJ-3A. They go together like a nut and bolt.

He’s not the only person that I immediately associate with a specific rig. When I think of 4-Wheel & Off-Road Editor Christian Hazel, I think of his ’53 Willys DJ-3A. Christian has owned that rig for over 16 years, and it seems weird to see him in any other 4x4. When he was editor of Four Wheeler, he daily drove the 2014 Four Wheeler of the Year–winning high-zoot Land Rover Ranger Rover Sport for a time. I saw him in that SUV a lot. Nonetheless, when I think of Christian, I think of him behind the wheel of his ’53.

Former Four Wheeler editor and current contributor John Cappa is another guy who I associate with a rig. He’s owned his ’73 J2000 pickup for more than 8 years, and even though he’s built and driven several other rigs during that time, it just seems natural to see John in the pilot seat of the truck. Even though he recently rolled the truck, it appears he has no plans to get rid of it.

My brother-in-law (occupation: farmer) purchased his ’95 Chevy K3500 4x4 brand new, and he still owns the truck today. That’s 21 years of ownership, and it seems he has no plans to part ways with the truck. When I think of him, I think of that Chevy, even though he owns several other 4x4s. His truck has never seen a “trail,” but it has spent a good part of its life off-road. In addition, it has been attached to a gooseneck trailer of some type for about 50 percent of the miles on the odometer (it currently has 140,000). In 2011, its factory 6.5L turbodiesel engine self-destructed so he yanked the 6.5L and replaced it with a Cummins 12-valve from a ’93 Dodge Ram. He mated the Cummins to the truck’s original NV4500 five-speed manual transmission, he fabbed the motor mounts to adapt the Cummins to the Chevy, and he had the engine/trans adapter machined locally using measurements he provided.

Personally, the vehicle I’ve owned the longest is still in my possession. It’s a ’90 Geo Tracker that I purchased in 2001. It’s rusty and wheezy now, relegated to moving snow (much like me), but I dig that little 4x4 and know it inside and out mechanically.

These examples of inseparable, lengthy 4x4 ownership are the catalyst for a question. Do you have a 4x4 you’ve owned for quite a while? Maybe it’s your spit-shined baby or maybe it’s part pack mule, part mountain goat and people think of it when they think of you. No matter it’s condition, size, or intended purpose, I’d like to hear about it. Email with a brief description of the 4x4, note how long you’ve owned it, and include a high-res digital photo of your rig. If we get enough of ’em, we’ll put together a story for publication in a future issue.

–Ken Brubaker

This Chevy K3500 has spent its entire 21-year-old life with the same owner.

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