More Troubles For Daimlerchrysler's Jeep Division
"When it rains, it pours," goes the adage, and problems are certainly putting a damper on the image - and profits - of the world's best-known 4x4. Two major incidents have shaken DaimlerChrysler's Jeep to its core. First, nearly one million Jeep Cherokees, Grand Cherokees, and Wranglers equipped with inline-six engines were recalled because of the possibility that debris trapped on the engine's manifolds could ignite. On top of that, Jeep's new Liberty SUV has undergone several design changes focused on improving the 4x4's resistance to rollovers during certain maneuvers.
The Liberty's changes were brought on, at least in part, by an incident last year, when testdrivers for AutoWeek magazine rolled a Liberty during slalom tests. For its part, DaimlerChrysler stated that the changes to the Liberty's suspension were made to address consumer demands for a more refined on-road driving experience.
The changes to the Liberty are surprising: The front coil springs were shortened by 22 millimeters (0.86-inch), the rear springs were reduced by 19 millimeters (0.75-inch), and the shock damping was changed to provide a smoother ride. Despite the lowered suspension, the Liberty's 8 inches of wheel travel was maintained through the use of shorter bumpstops, although the 4x4's front ground clearance was reduced by an inch. By the time you read this, all current Liberty models will use the new suspension; there are no plans by DaimlerChrysler to recall or modify existing Libertys, since the company is confident the new SUV is a safe and sure-footed 4x4 when driven in a responsible manner
Mighty Powerful Marine RatEven the Ford guys recognize GM's 8.1L Vortec V-8 as a stout performer. Now, there's more to like about the second-generation Rat: General Motors Powertrain has developed a high-performance Vortec 8100 for use in power-boat racing. The new engine, named HP3, is based on a stock-block truck engine and will power several boats in the 2002 American Power Boat Association Offshore Race Series. The HP3 engines begin life at GM's engine assembly plant in Tonawanda, New York, then are shipped to Innovation Marine in Sarasota, Florida, where identical high-performance mods are performed on each engine. After that, the powerplants are sealed and installed into the race boats. The seven teams that are using the HP3 engines are forbidden from tuning or making additional mods; during the races, GM records engine performance data for use in further engine development.
Of course, the HP3 isn't GM's first performance marine engine, although it is the most powerful GM marine engine built to date, taking the top spot from the Vortec HP1 8100 (375 hp) and the HP2 Vortec, rated at 420 horses. GM hasn't released official horsepower numbers, but it's a pretty safe bet that the HP3's output is at least 525 hp.
Rick Dunagan, executive director of OEM sales for GM Powertrain said: "Pushing a boat through the water requires more than nine times the horsepower needed to propel a truck at the same speed, and our involvement in the APBA Offshore Race Series serves as an excellent proving ground to showcase the power and durability of our Vortec marine engines in perhaps one of the toughest environments. Our involvement also allows us an opportunity to take what we learn on the water and use it to improve the on-road durability of our production engines." Read more about the Vortec HP3 at www.gmvortec.com.
Be There: 2nd Annual Truckin' Magazine State-2-State CruiseIt's back - bigger, better, and badder than last year's event. The 2nd Annual Truckin' State-2-State Cruise is upon us once again. Brought to you by the World's Leading Custom Truck Publication, along with several title sponsors, including Dealers Sport Truck & Automotive, Gibson Performance Exhaust Systems, Line-X, AIM Industries, Stylin' Concepts, Autobahn Wholesale, Godfather Customs, and Boyd Coddington Wheels. Mark your calendars for October 18, 2002 for this exciting cruise to Phoenix in anticipation of the Truckin' Nationals at Firebird Raceway. This year's event promises more trucks and SUVs than last year, a lot of door prizes, and a free morning breakfast to kick off the event. In addition to numerous stops for open houses at several of the custom truck industries' leading manufacturers and shops, there will be exciting photo opportunities during the cruise with the editors of Truckin', Sport Truck, Mini-Truckin', Truckin's SUV, Custom Classic Trucks, and the best of them all, OFF-ROAD.
Similar to last year, the Truckin' State-2-State Cruise will kick off from Dealers Sport Truck & Automotive in Los Alamitos, California, with scheduled stops at Boyd Coddington Wheels, also in Los Alamitos, Gibson Performance Exhaust Systems in Corona, California, and American Products Corporation (APC) in Riverside, California. From there, the cruise will make a stop for free lunch and then continue on to Phoenix, where the cruise will wind down with a party at AIM Industries in Mesa, Arizona.
More sponsors are being added, and there are additional stops planned as part of the Poker Run. Registration for the State-2-State Cruise is only $10 and includes a T-shirt, three meals, entry into the Poker Run, admission to the end-of-cruise party, and goodie bags stuffed with cool merchandise. For more information on the 2nd Annual Truckin' State-2-State Cruise and to sign up, contact: Amber Pierce, Marketing Coordinator,(714) 939-2580
Aggressive Suspensions' Open HouseIt's not often that an event such as the grand opening of an off-road performance shop gets coverage in the pages of this magazine, but then, it's not often that we attend an open house where the showroom features a full-on stadium race truck suspended by wires from the ceiling rafters. We saw that and more at the opening of Aggressive Suspensions, SoCal's latest outlet for everything off-road. With a 10,000-square-foot showroom, six service lifts, an alignment rack, and location near a freeway, Aggressive Suspensions seems to have everything in place for a successful launch. Aggressive stocks all the good stuff, including Fabtech suspension systems, Pro Comp tires, Weld wheels, Mickey Thompson tires, and more, making it truly a one-stop shop for the purchase and installation of off-road accessories. You can check out Aggressive Suspensions' new digs at 2991 E. Whitestar Ave., Anaheim, CA 92806, or call (714) 632-9001
'04 Chevy Colorado - We're Still WaitingGMT355 - aka Chevrolet's Colorado - is still on the way. Due in mid-2003, the all-new compact truck, which is a joint effort by Isuzu and General Motors, emulates the styling of GM's successful Silverado and Sierra fullsize haulers, although the new S-Series trucks will go high-tech for power, using twin-cam inline engines with four or five cylinders. Our source for super-sneaky automotive spy shots, Brenda Priddy & Company/ISPYAUTO, provided this Steve Eastwood-penned illustration, which was based on sightings of Colorado test mules and GM insider information.
Ford Builds Seven Millionth Vehicle - It's An F-150We guess it was only fitting that an F-150 truck would be the Ford vehicle to carry the title of seven millionth vehicle built by Ford Motor Company. After all, the F-150 has been America's best-selling vehicle for more years than anyone - except Ford PR types - can remember. Actually, the F-series recently celebrated its 25th anniversary as the USA's best-selling truck and its 20th anniversary as the country's overall best-selling vehicle. Despite strong challenges from the General, Ford's F-150 remains strong, and with a major redesign coming in 2004, Ford looks to keep the F-150 on top of the ultra-competitive fullsize truck market.
That seven millionth vehicle was built at Ford's Norfolk, Virginia, assembly plant, and the '02-model F-series was driven off the assembly line by Plant Manager Mike Horn, who stated, "This seven millionth unit highlights 77 years of quality production here, and we're proud of that accomplishment." The Norfolk assembly plant began operations in 1925, building Model Ts, and built both automobiles as well as trucks until 1974, when Ford trucks became the exclusive product of the Norfolk plant.
Photo Of The MonthEach and every day, we receive a boxful of snail mail, which is dutifully sorted and organized by our Editorial Assistant, Sergio Euzarraga, who's gotten quite adept at spotting letters from those off-road enthusiasts who are, well, spending time at the Grey Bar Hotel, if you know what we mean. One day, we received a fancy-looking letter from one Eric Shurtliff of Phoenix, Arizona. Now, Mr. Shurtliff is nothing but enthusiastic about the custom-fabbed Jeeps his company, Bulldog Trucks, builds for customers. For example, Bulldog's latest Jeep CJ, the Hellhound model, is as trick as anything we've seen, boasting a 5.7L small-block Chevy V-8 engine with multipoint EFI, a custom frame with mandrel-bent box tube and six crossmembers, Ford 9-inch axles, four-wheel disc brakes, and striking custom paint.
Our old buddy Eric also has a keen eye for fine lines, which is why he hired super-fine model/actress Dina Marie to pose with Hellhound and company mascot, Mandible. After we pried Dina Marie's photos out of Sergio's hands ("I'm sure those were sent to me!"), we made the easy decision to share Dina Marie, Hellhound, and Mandible with you. See more of Hellhound at www.bulldogtrucks.com and much more of Miss Dina Marie at www.dinamarie.com. No, Mandible doesn't have his own Web site yet.