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Ford's Ex Concept: A Factory-Bred Extreme Dirt MachineWe don't know about you, but the never-ending introduction of factory concept vehicles drives us crazy; we want 'em and we want 'em now. Case in point: Ford's EX concept, a wild-looking buggy-like ride that, according to J Mays, Ford Motor Company vice-president of design, promises "a unique, no-compromise driving experience for the off-road enthusiast and extreme sports authority." That's us; no-compromise off-road enthusiasts.
This is certainly one machine we'd like to thrash, but it's a teaser - not currently in production, just a collection of high-performance off-road components with a focus on a race-replica styling.
The EX is a two-seater, with composite body panels held in place by quick-release fasteners, a chrome-moly chassis, and an external tubular structure, which allows the major mechanical components to be visible. For handling, the EX's designers gave its 2,600-pound curb weight a 50/50 weight distribution by moving the T-case and radiators to an area behind the passengers. The front-mounted engine is a supercharged SOHC V-6 and pumps out 375 hp at 4,600 rpm with 410 lb-ft of torque available at 3,800 rpm, thanks in part to a side-exit stainless steel exhaust system.
The EX is outfitted with a suspension worthy of its no-nonsense appearance: four-wheel independent with upper and lower control arms and twin coilover dampers at each wheel. The four-wheel disc brake setup features rotors 13 inches in diameter squeezed by four-piston calipers. Special 33x12.50R17 BFGoodrich tires are mounted to what are perhaps the only standard components used on the EX: five-spoke cast-alloy wheels.
We think the EX is cool; the staff of OFF-ROAD magazine has left several phone messages with Ford officials. We've gladly volunteered to road - and off-road - test the Ford EX for an extended period of time, just to help out the Blue Oval. So far, there's been no response
Dodge Supports Efforts to Modify TrucksFor decades, America's big-three truckmakers have seemingly discouraged the use of aftermarket performance and styling accessories on their vehicles,giving us the "that modification will void the factory warranty" line or the "our trucks don't require modifications for off-road use" jive. However, during the past few years, Dodge, Ford, and GM have reversed their stance on many aftermarket products, finally acknowledging the fact that properly engineered and fabricated aftermarket components can indeed enhance the performance and appearance of a truck without compromising the vehicle's safety, handling, or reliability.
DaimlerChrysler has announced that detailed technical information will be made available to aftermarket manufacturers from the DaimlerChrysler Modified Vehicles Engineering Team. After an aftermarket manufacturer has signed an agreement with DaimlerChrysler regarding the use and distribution of its classified Computer-Assisted-Design information, every design aspect of new Dodge trucks, including the fresh '02 Ram, will be made available, such as suspension and chassis specs, engine details, body dimensions, and just about everything an aftermarket manufacturer would need to know when designing an accessory for a new Dodge truck. OFF-ROAD's art director - the talented Mr. Brad Crowder - worked some of his computer trickery and out came this image of an '02 Rammer with a 4-inch lift just to whet your appetite for an aftermarket-modified Dodge.
New Tech, Meet Old Tech We frequently print photos of ultra-secret trucks and SUVs undergoing pre-production testing, but our spy photographer, Brenda Priddy, recently captured an image of a prototype vehicle that says a lot about state-of-the-art off-road machines and the way they're tested. The heavily disguised Porsche Cayenne, which is based on Volkswagen's new Transporter chassis, was photographed while being comparison-tested against a Mercedes ML320 SUV, which will be an obvious competitor with the new Cayenne. What's odd is the other vehicle in the photo, which is also being tested against the Porsche. It seems that the German automaker has decided to test the Cayenne's mettle against the most beloved old-tech American truck of all time: a late-'70s, solid-axle, K-Series Chevy 4x4. Maybe Porsche understands that the old ways are - many times - still the best ways. The second photo shows the Cayenne stripped - by computer - of its disguise.