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January 1998 RPM - Off-Road Truck News

Posted in News on January 1, 1998
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Clubs Save Lives
We know many clubs around the country are doing good deeds for their favorite trails and communities. Every once in a while, though, we hear about a club to goes above and beyond the call of duty. In the case of the High Step'N Jeep Club and The Middle Tennessee Trail Runners, they became life-savers.

On a recent trail outing in the Land Between the Lakes near Turkey Bay, Kentucky, a group of High Step'N Jeepers heard the faint, desperate callings of a distant voice on the CB. Through a series of horn relays and various tracking techniques, three of the club's best rigs were able to locate the stranded enthusiasts-a sand rail had overturned, and a woman was seriously injured. One club member, a paramedic, rushed to the scene, applied First Aid, and make a list of supplies that needed to be brought in. Other club members set up a radio relay to guide the incoming ambulance. To get to the woman out, though, a Jeep had to slide, skid, bounce, and skillfully navigate to the bottom of the rugged ravine.

With supplies in hand, a harness and back brace was rigged up for the woman, who was strapped to the Jeep's rollcage. After two hours of careful winching and cautious driving up the steep trails and hillsides, the woman was in the ambulance, en route to the local hospital. Diagnosed with several broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a punctured spleen, and other shoulder and collarbone problems, she was immediately airlifted to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville.

As Steve Agostino, founding member and club manager, said, "We did get to ride a few trails later that day . . . the trees seemed greener, the air sweeter, and the sky more blue than ever before. The 2 1/2-hour ride home was the quietest we've ever had."

As an update, we're told the woman is doing fine-she even wrote the club a special thank-you: "Just remember, no matter what you do for the rest of your lives, you have done the greatest deed any person can do; you made it possible for another to live, for two little girls to have their mom, and for Kenny to keep his fianceé."

Concept Expedition Outfitting
We've received several concept photos from different Southern 4x4 shops centered on the hugely popular Ford Expedition. Kevin St. Amant at 4WD Parts Center (Dept. FW, 6850 Buford Hwy., Atlanta, GA 30340, 770/263-8461) sent us this concept Expedition, which includes 4WD Parts' 5-inch lift, reinforcing crossmembers, and Rancho RS 9000 shocks. The 3-inch body lift and Xenon flares comfortably accommodate the 35x12.50 BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/As, mounted on 16.5x9.75 Weld Scorpio wheels. The Smittybilt brush guard, rear taillight screens, and Lund Moon visor were paint-matched, with a ready-to-work, semi-hidden Warn XD9000i inside the front grille.

Four Wheeler Book Reviews
Selling the All American Wonder
By Frederick Coldwell (ISBN 0-910667-25-X)
Just when you thought every nuance of the Jeep story had been told, someone comes along with a fresh look. Enter Fred Coldwell and Selling the All American Wonder.

The victories of the Jeep in World War II were nothing compared to the "victory" won by the '40s Willys spin doctors. Coldwell details the advertising used during the war to promote the vehicle and name. Coldwell spent 10 years collecting all of the advertising used during the war, and the quality of the artwork will surprise you. Far from being cheap "ads-in-a-rag," Willys commissioned well-known illustrators of the day like James Sessions, John Howard and Benton Clark to produce original paintings. The materials they produced for Willys-Overland are vivid, energetic and something any Jeep lover would enjoy on their wall.

Most Jeep buffs know that Willys began the development of the civilian Jeep in 1944. Selling the All American Wonder also delves into the transitional 1945 advertising, when Willys began making inroads into the upcoming Postwar civilian market. Coldwell's report on the origins of the valuable "Jeep" trademark, and how Willys managed to end up with the brass ring, may be the most comprehensive and unbiased ever presented.

If you're a Jeep buff, this book has got to be on your shelves. Contact: USM, Inc., Dept. FW, P.O. Box 810, Lakeville, MN 55044-0810, 612/469-4928 (fax).
-Jim Allen

4-Wheel Freedom, The Art of Off-Road Driving
By Brad DeLong (ISBN 0-87364-891-9)
With more SUVs on the road every day, new four-wheelers are joining the sport in record numbers. That means a whole lot more first-timers-and more mistakes on the trail. To that end, Brad DeLong's book is a welcome treatise on basic and intermediate four-wheeling techniques.

Brad's book is full of easy-to-understand tips on almost every aspect of our sport. It makes the first nerve-racking trip survivable for explorer and vehicle alike. More importantly, it'll help make it fun. If you put this book into the hands of all first-timers with a bit of good sense, the odds are pretty good the outback will stay a great place to four wheel.

While Four Wheel Freedom is an outstanding beginning-to-intermediate resource, there are a few advanced tips to be found as well. The chapter on winching is particularly well done and shows some rigging setups not usually featured-even in publications intended for more experienced drivers. This might make it worth a look by those more grizzled four wheelers out there.

Four Wheel Freedom is the newest book on a topic that can't have too many good books written. It's a must read for four-wheelers with a conscience. Contact: Paladin Press, Dept. FW, P.O. Box 1307, Boulder, CO 80306, 303/443-7250; or order directly from Brad DeLong at 208/476-7091, 208/476-0711 (Fax); or (E-mail).
-Jim Allen

A New Game In Town
Looking to make a big splash in the ever-growing pond of four-wheel drives, the newly imported ARO 4x4 may redefine the purpose-built four wheeler for entry-level buyers. That's a big piece to take for a first bite, but John Perez, President and founder of Eastern European Imports, is looking to sell more than 20,000 Romanian-built units for the '98 model year. We're told there are currently over 150 dealers across the U.S. ready to sell the ARO, with a suggested base price under $13,000. The "new" truck is built at the foot of the Carpathian mountains in Campulung, Romania, and is a variation of the Eastern European military vehicles built for over 35 years. The ARO is about the size of a four-door Geo Tracker, with a wheelbase of 92.5 inches, while motivation is listed as a U.S.-built 3.0-liter V-6 capable of 140 horsepower. The part-time transfer case (all AROs will be four-wheel drive) offers a high-range of 1.21:1 and low-range of 2.72:1, with manual-locking front hubs. Look for more details next month.

Vehicle ARO 244
Engine 3.0-liter V-6
Suspension, f/r IFS, coil springs/live axle,
leaf springs
Drivetrain 5-spd. manual or 3-spd. auto
Low-range 2.72:1
Ring and pinion 3.07:1 or 4.56:1
Wheelbase (in.) 92.5
Length (in.) 155.5
Width (in.) 69.8
Height (in.) 72.8
Ride height (in.) 21.6
Ground clearance (in.) 11.8
Curb weight (lb.) 3,652
Weight dist., f/r(%) 52/48
GVWR (lb.) 5,200
Payload (lb.) 1,548
Fuel capacity (gal.) 24
Seating (passengers) 5
Hubs Manual

Things Gone Right
In a recent quality survey typically dominated by imports, three of the four truck categories were led by American products. The Automotive Performance Execution and Layout (APEAL) survey from J.D. Power & Associates attempts to measure those aspects of recent purchases that made and make the buyer happy. The study addresses seats, vehicle styling, engine and transmission performance, comfort and convenience, ride and handling, climate controls, the cockpit and instrument panel, and sound system. The top scorers in the APEAL survey were:

Compact pickups: Dodge Dakota, GMC Sonoma, Ford Ranger.
Full-size pickups: Dodge Ram, Ford F-Series, Chevy C/K.
Compact SUVs: Toyota 4Runner, Mercury Mountaineer, Infiniti QX4.
Full-size SUVs: GMC Suburban, Ford Expedition, Lexus LX450.

Quick Notes
• In honor of National Public Lands Day (September 27), Tread Lightly! decided to kick off its newest program, "Restoration for Recreation," and transform a 3-mile stretch of multi-use trails along Utah's Wasatch Front near Farmington, Utah. America Honda Motor Company donated an initial $100,000 for the first Restoration for Recreation project, with other volunteer opportunities available to give time, sweat, and elbow grease. For more information about Tread Lightly!, the Restoration and Recreation program, or volunteering, contact Tread Lightly!, Dept. FW, 298 24th St., Suite 325, Ogden, UT 84401, 800/966-9900.

• Borg-Warner Automotive will continue its sponsorship of the Manufacturers' Challenge Cup at the World Championship Off-Road Races in Crandon, Wisconsin, through the year 2000. The $120,000 hand-crafted Cup stands 44 inches tall and is made of sterling silver and 18-karat gold. Borg-Warner currently manufactures transfer cases for Ford, Isuzu, Land Rover, SsangYong, and Mercedes-Benz.

• As if there isn't enough high-tech problem-solving going on in racing, Rod Hall has been using a Raytheon Thermal Imaging System (RTIS) to navigate the rugged desert terrain. With NightDriver mounted on his Hummers last year, Hall raced through dust and the dark to win his class in the Baja 1000 by more than 13 minutes. For more information, contact Rod Hall International at 702/331-4800.

• With 25 years of experience behind them, Bilstein monotube high-pressure shock absorbers are just about everywhere: huge aftermarket applications, race trucks, motorhomes, exotic race cars, and sourced by several manufacturers as original equipment. From its assembly plant in Hamilton, Ohio, the manufacturing division of Krupp Bilstein of America has produced its one-millionth shock in just two years. Bilsteins are used extensively on Chevy and GMC trucks, as well as Ron Hornaday, Jr.'s, NASCAR race truck and Rusty Wallace's Winston Cup ride. For more information, contact Krupp Bilstein of America, Dept. FW, 8845 Rehco Rd., San Diego, CA 92121, 619/453-7723.

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