The Black Express appearance package, a popular option for Ram 1500 pickups, is now available for the Heavy Duty Ram trucks too. This one is very dark, with blacked-out grille, front and rear bumpers, and foglamps. Even the 20-inch alloy wheels are black. All the body-side badging has been shaved for an even stealthier look, though diesel models retain the Cummins nameplate as the only external signage. The Black package can be ordered for Big Horn/Lone Star and Laramie models in either single- or dual-rear-wheel configurations, two- or four-wheel drive, and Crew or Mega Cab bodies. Pricing starts at a little more than $42,000.
Meyers’ “Unfinished Business” in Baja
Bruce Meyers, founder of Meyers Manx and creator of the iconic dune buggies bearing his name, is among the drivers taking part in the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. Meyers is one of the sport’s pioneers; it was his June 1967 record-setting Baja run in Old Red, his prototype buggy, that lead to the inaugural NORRA 1000 rally later that year. Yet despite many attempts, Meyers has never finished a desert race. In fact, he quit racing in 1968 after crashing heavily in that year’s 1000 (in the Tow’d buggy seen here with co-driver Bill Anderson). It wasn’t until 2002 that he raced again, in a yellow buggy built to mark the company’s return to selling fiberglass cars. That attempt, too, proved unsuccessful.
So now Meyers is mounting the Destiny in Dust tour, ready to tackle Baja once more in that same ’02 buggy, now restored, with the help of several buddies who are racing veterans themselves—Baja and Dakar Rally star Andy Grider, 2013 Baja 1000 class winner Rafael Navarro III, and off-road historian and NORRA class winner Marty Fiolka.
The 88-year-old Meyers is racing the NORRA Rally “to finish unfinished business,” he says. “This is a fitting end to my racing days and the perfect way to celebrate my love affair with Baja, not to mention Meyers Manx turning 50 years old.”
This Just In
• It’s the end of an era. Toyota announced that it is building a new corporate headquarters facility in Plano, Texas, and will leave its sprawling corporate campus in Torrance, California, which has been its headquarters since 1982. When I joined this magazine in 1986, my first test vehicle was an ’87 Toyota Xtracab pickup, just one of countless Toyota products I ferried back and forth between our publishing company and the media fleet housed at the offices in the South Bay. My pain is nostalgic; for Torrance, it’s much more real. The move affects thousands of Toyota employees, not to mention the local businesses that have fed, housed, and otherwise supported Toyota during those three decades.
• GM’s new Heavy Duty pickups will be available with a bi-fuel option, enabling them to be powered by either gasoline or compressed natural gas. GM has announced the option for the pickups will cost $9,500 and can be ordered on single-rear-wheel 2500HD and 3500 HD models.
• Robby Gordon has won another round of the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road series, this one held on the Long Beach Grand Prix road course in Southern California. This wasn’t a runaway victory for Gordon; in fact, he spent much of the race watching two front runners, E.J. Viso and Sheldon Creed, battle for the lead. The fight between them got so intense that on the final lap, they crashed into each other and put themselves out of the running for the win. Gordon, in Third, took advantage of their overexuberance and motored past for the victory.
Nissan Celebrates 80 Years
This cool-looking vintage truck is a ’48 Datsun 2225 commercial model. We ran across the photo reading about Nissan’s 80th anniversary, which took place in December 2013. Trucks have been a big part of Nissan’s legacy since its beginnings. The first car badged as a Datsun was sold in 1933, and the first truck followed in 1934. The 2225 had a 722cc engine and a load capacity of 500 kilograms—about 1,100 pounds. Americans first saw Datsun pickups in 1959, but it wasn’t until the mid ’60s that sales of the pickup really took off. Datsun, in fact, was the best-selling compact truck from 1965 to 1975, and the company pioneered such compact-truck features as the long bed, half-ton payload capacity, and extended cab—the King Cab—that lives on today.
• SEMA reports that the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee approved four bills to reform aspects of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bills, which have been sent to the House floor, would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to release data used to make listings of threatened or endangered animals and plants, report how much money is spent on ESA-related lawsuits, and place a cap on plaintiff attorney reimbursement fees. Why do we care? Millions of acres of land have been set aside to protect threatened or endangered animals and plants, with few tangible results beyond lawsuits and attorney fees. Scores of OHV roads and trails have been unnecessarily closed as a consequence. SEMA supports an alternative approach that focuses on establishing and managing smaller recovery zones.
• Speaking of which, the BlueRibbon Coalition reports the BLM plans to reopen thousands of acres of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area that have been closed since 2000 to protect the Peirson’s milk-vetch. Officials said they intend to rescind the closure as soon as the next dune recreation season, which typically begins around Halloween. BLM officials said they saw insufficient evidence that the closure helps the endangered plant. “Basically, we came to the conclusion that we need more scientific data to base a closure as significant as that one,” said Jan Bedrosian, a BLM spokeswoman. The 49,000 acres to be reopened are about one-third of the entire dune system, also known as Algodones Dunes and Glamis. About 15,000 acres would be open for all riders and drivers. The remaining 34,000 acres would be limited to 525 riders by permit.
Toyo Wins Coast to Coast
Toyo Tires had a lot to brag about this spring, as short-course drivers using its tires won some key races. On the West Coast, Kyle LeDuc drove his Pro 4 Unlimited Monster Energy/Toyo Tires F-150 to a sweep of Rounds 3 and 4 of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series event at the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Lake Elsinore, California. That same weekend, Pro 4x4 driver Scott Douglas won Round 4 of The Off-Road Championship series during the Showdown at The Dirt Track in Charlotte, North Carolina. Douglas, too, was ’wheeling an F-150, sponsored by Amsoil, Borla, Walker Evans Racing, and Toyo.
Discovery Vision Concept
Land Rover introduced its latest design exercise, the Discovery Vision Concept, at the New York Auto Show. The company announced that the show car would form the basis for a new Discovery Sport production model, slated for a 2015 launch.
The Discovery Vision Concept is a platform for all sorts of advanced vehicular technology, including the Transparent Hood head-up display system we talked about last month. (Forward-facing cameras transmit an image of the terrain in front of the vehicle to a viewing area along the bottom of the windshield, making the hood seem transparent.) Other tech onboard is a remote-control system that enables the driver to maneuver the vehicle—at extremely low speeds—while he or she is outside the vehicle, handy for attaching a trailer or spotting yourself over extreme terrain. Smart Glass displays information on any window in the vehicle’s greenhouse, and the seats can be configured—folded flat, moved forward or back—via touchscreen controls. Plus, Land Rover says the concept vehicle is equipped with its next-generation Terrain Response system, “giving the driver the confidence to tackle virtually any terrain with ease.”
How much of this tech will actually find its way to the production Discovery Sport? We figure the styling of the concept previews what the new model will look like; beyond that is hard to guess. But the idea of driving a Land Rover over the rocks while standing outside of it sounds like a lot of fun. Like an RC car in 1:1 scale!
For those of you with more money than you know what to do with, here’s a sneak peek at the upcoming Bentley SUV, which is moving from concept to production and should be on sale in 2016. It will be “the most luxurious and powerful SUV on the market,” says the British automaker. Wonder if they’ll loan us one for 4x4 of the Year?
• July 31–Aug. 2: Coal Mountain Jeep Jamboree, Shamokin, PA.
• July 31–Aug. 2: Roof of the Rockies Jeep Jamboree, Snowmass, Aspen, CO.
• Aug. 1-3: Jeep Jamboree, Rubicon Trail, between Georgetown and Lake Tahoe, Northern California.
Info: 530.333.4771, jeepersjamboree.com
• Aug. 2: Mud bog at the Haspin Acres Off-Road and Motorsports Park, Laurel, IN.
• Aug. 2: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com
• Aug. 2-3: Dirt Riot Midstates, Crandon, WI.
• Aug. 3: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com
• Aug. 4: Tire Repair & Hi-Lift Jack Mini Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com
• Aug. 7-10: Sierra Trek by California Association of 4WD Clubs, Meadow Lake near Truckee, CA.
• Aug. 7-10: Rubicon Trail Jeep Jamboree, near Lake Tahoe, CA.
• Aug. 8-9: W.E.Rock Eastern Series, Dayton, TN.
• Aug. 9-10: Maine Warrior Salute, Rocky Mountain Terrain Park, Carthage, ME.
Info: email firstname.lastname@example.org
• Aug. 11-14: Rubicon Trail by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, near Lake Tahoe, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com
• Aug. 14-16: General Tire Vegas to Reno desert race, Las Vegas, NV.
Info: Best in the Desert, bitd.com
• Aug. 15-17: Total 4x4 Adventure Class by Backcountry 4x4, Big Bear Lake, CA.
• Aug. 16: Dirt Riot Southwest and Dirt Riot Mountain, Cortez, CO.
• Aug. 16: Jeep Owner Orientation Class by Backcountry 4x4, Big Bear Lake, CA.
• Aug. 16-17: Off-road driving school, Iron Range OHV Park near Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.
• Aug. 21-23: Big Horn Mountains Jeep Jamboree, Dayton, WY.
• Aug. 23: Crawling for Downs to benefit Downs Guild of Kansas City, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
• Aug. 23: Advanced Black Diamond Class by Backcountry 4x4, Big Bear Lake, CA.
• Aug. 23: Mud bog at the Haspin Acres Off-Road and Motorsports Park, Laurel, IN.
• Aug. 23: Dirt Riot Central, Altus, OK.
• Aug. 24: Kansas Rocks open to the public, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
• Aug. 24: Getting Unstuck Vehicle Recovery Class by Backcountry 4x4, Big Bear Lake, CA.
• Aug. 28–Sept. 1: Hot Springs ORV Park 4xAdventure, Hot Springs ORV Park, Hot Springs, AR.
• Aug. 29–Sept. 1: High Sierra Poker Run by California Association of 4WD Clubs, near Shaver Lake, CA.
• Aug. 30: Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion by the Smoky Mountain Jeep Club, Pigeon Forge, TN.
• Aug. 30–Sept. 1: Kansas Rocks open for Labor Day Weekend, Kansas Rocks Recreation Park, Mapleton, KS.
• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info—phone numbers and/or email/website address—to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 818.566.8501; email email@example.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.