“Aw crap, it’s somebody new.” Yeah, I hear ya. I used to say the same thing when I opened my issue of Four Wheeleror 4-Wheel & Off-Roadback in the ’90s and instead of my favorite editor there was a headshot of some new schmuck. Building a magazine readers care about is kinda like those cheesy TV comedies in which the store clerk is carefully building a pyramid of precariously balanced apples. As soon as he’s stacked the last one on top—wham!—along comes a yahoo with a shopping cart and knocks the whole thing over. Well, bam—I’m the shopping cart.
So where’d all the apples go? Corporate reshuffle, man. Hey, it happens. We’re maxing the glass envelope and forward upward paradigming all over the place in here. John Cappa got led out by the scruff of his neck, but don’t worry. You’ll actually be seeing his byline in Four Wheeler more than when he was in the editor’s chair, where I now sit.
That little tattooed guy with the funny Southern accent? (By the way, those are stick-on tattoos. He applies a fresh set every morning.) Ali Mansour is now in charge of our sister publication 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine.
“So who the hell am I? Thought you’d never ask.”
And the big, Midwestern guy who wears shorts and T-shirts with the sleeves and neck hole cut out even when it’s 20 degrees and snowing? Ken Brubaker will still be a regular contributor to Four Wheeler, but now he’s technically a cog in a much larger Source Interlink Media (SIM) content generating machine. The whole goal is to enhance your experience as consumers of the content we create, no matter if it’s in print, digital, mobile, tablet, social, or direct to your brain via ESP. We’re still working the bugs out on that last one.
So who the hell am I? Thought you’d never ask. I was originally hired by our sister publication 4-Wheel & Off-Road about 15 years ago. That was back in the dinosaur days when we shot with 35mm film cameras, printed black-and-white photos, and didn’t even have a website. During my tenure at 4WORI whanged and slammed a fullsize Ramcharger on 42s over most hardcore trails in the Southwest. The Ramcharger never once saw a trailer and was both my trail rig and daily driver … so when (not if) I broke it on the weekend I had to be able to cobble it back together well enough to make it home and then fix it in time for the Monday commute to the office.
In the early ’00s I transferred to our Jeep-only publication, Jp magazine, where I’ve been snugly holed up for about the past 12 years playing with vintage Willys and Wranglers. I normally do my own wrenching, welding, and fabricating, and I dig oddball builds that think outside the box, providing they work on the trail. I’m a big function-over-form guy. If you love chrome gewgaws and useless fluffy crap, you’ll need to find other bathroom reading material ’cause you won’t see it here.
So, as long as I’m being brutally honest I’ll be brutally honest. Good, bad, or indifferent, I’ve always viewed Four Wheeler as the B-side to the other off-road LP brands. For you young’uns who don’t know what a 45 record is, another analogy is the RC Cola to their Coke. The Heathcliff to their Garfield. The Space 1999to their Star Trek. Aw, there I go with the old analogies again.
Anyway, to me, an off-road magazine has to have dirt under its fingernails and bleed gear lube from its open wounds. While Four Wheelerhas had flashes of that legitimacy, throughout its existence it hasn’t always walked the walk and talked the talk. I’m not going to make Four Wheeler into a clone of the other off-road brands under the SIM umbrella, but I am going to annihilate any remaining vestiges of the days when real off-roaders referred to it as Faux Wheeler. So, let’s get going.