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Our Favorite Feature Vehicles

Posted in News on May 26, 2015
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Not every aspect of our jobs writing, photographing, or videoing off-road action and tech is fun and rewarding. Believe it or not we do have to do work that we don’t enjoy (just like everyone), but having said that many aspects of working for a Four Wheeler Network magazine can be an awesome way to make a living…or play for a living.

One part of the job that is always awesome is finding, shooting, and writing up features on vehicles. This gives us a chance to make people’s dreams come true when recognition is given for a well built or interesting vehicle within the pages of our magazines. Sure sometimes we feature expensive corporate builds, or race cars, but seeing any builder’s or owner’s eyes light up when we ask if they would be alright with us shooting a feature on their rig for the magazine is awesome. These people have poured the figurative “blood, sweat, and tears” into an object that, with our help, thousands can see. This makes peoples days, weeks, or years and helps bolster careers of those who work hard and create what some may argue is a form of artwork.

Collectively the Editors of the Four Wheeler Network have captured the images and data for thousands of vehicle features over the years. Today we’ve asked: “What is your favorite feature vehicle and why?” and assembled the answers for you.

Ugly, Jimmy Nylynd’s ’51 CJ3A
Fred Williams
Editor, Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road
My favorite feature truck was printed in September 1989 issue of Four Wheeler and was titled, “Ugly”. I was sitting in high school when this magazine arrived and I didn’t realize the effect it would have on me. This was a ’51 CJ3A owned by Jimmy Nylund and unlike most of the 1980’s feature trucks this was a brown, ugly, used and abused 4x4. I realized from that point that vehicles that actually work off road were way cooler than those that just looked fancy. This Willys Jeep was built in Sweden and found its way to America when the owner came here to visit. Jimmy ended up writing for Four Wheeler and is a good friend of mine. Jimmy is a surly, funny, eccentric hermit type, but he still has this Jeep and it will always be one of my favorite feature trucks. I think this jeep, the movie Mad Max, and the fact that starting around the late 80’s early 90’s all the off-road magazines started to really concentrate on vehicles that went off-road had a huge influence on my personal aesthetic of cool ugly junk that goes off road. Jimmy and his Jeep can both be seen in an installment of Dirt Every Day.

Jeff Mello’s ’46 CJ-2A
Verne Simons
Tech Editor, 4-Wheel & Off-Road
I’ve shot many vehicle features. Many have been high tech and expensive. Some have been simple yet effective. Some had one or two things that I loved about them like an old Willys truck with tractor tires on the rear axle or M715 axles swapped under a CJ-7 cause they were available, locked, and stronger than the Dana 30/AMC 20. Some had things that I thought were just flat out wrong like one Jeep with 40-inch tires, one-ton axles and no roll-cage, but still shot the feature (and pointed the problem out in the feature). Many have been bordering on works of art, but none of these is my absolute favorite.

My favorite feature vehicle is Jeff Mello’s ’46 CJ-2A. I found and shot pictures on the orange Jeep at the 50th anniversary of Tierra Del Sol’s Desert Safari. The Jeep is retro, and that’s part of what I love, but the real reason that I love that Jeep is its history. All old Jeeps have a history, but Jeff has preserved the history of this CJ-2A. His father, Ron Mello, and his lifelong pal, Dave Silveira (and Dave’s dad Johnny) have been around the Jeep since 1951. Jeff shared some of the images of the Flattie’s life and its people with me so I could share them with the world. If you want to read the article on Jeff’s Willys here is a link to the feature: HERE

Frank, The 1982 Toyota HJ47
Ken Brubaker
Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Well, I’ve photographed hundreds of feature vehicles over the past 26 years, but one that stands out in my mind as a vehicle that matches my lifestyle and quirky nature is John Floyd’s Toyota HJ47. I stumbled on it while wheeling in the high country of Colorado and I fell in love with this unusual rig. I don’t really like small trucks (I’m a big guy), let along regular cab small trucks, but I totally dig this ‘yota. Among other things, I like the solid axles, turbodiesel engine, zero bling, and dual spare tires. And it’s set up for extended backcountry wheeling and camping due to the TL Engineering flatbed. You can read all about the machine HERE.

Big Oly
Matt Emery
Editor, Dirt Sports+Off-Road
This weeks question is a hard one. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot hundreds of features on cars and trucks, both new and vintage. But, one of my favorite features was a Masterpiece In Metal that ran a few years ago in Dirt Sports on the then newly restored Big Oly/Stroppe Bronco.

Big Oly is one of those special cars that not only defined an era, it defines off road racing nearly to this day. As usual, Boyd Jaynes expertly shot it in the studio, and it was a big hit with the readers. The vehicle looked beautiful, and even after all those years, it still looked deadly capable.

Matthew Jackson’s 1960 Series II Land Rover
Christian Hazel
Editor, Four Wheeler
Forget clean and shiny 4x4s. I like feature vehicles that show the years of wear and tear on their faces. To me one of the biggest sins imaginable is turning a pantina’d four-wheeled warrior into a beauty queen. To that point, one of my all-time favorite feature vehicles is Matthew Jackson’s 1960 Series II Land Rover. For me, this vehicle ticks most of the boxes. It’s somewhat rare, it’s pretty unique, it’s purpose-built for off-roading and outdoor family fun, it has a modern engine and transmission, retains factory (albeit modified) Land Rover axles and T-case, and has all the original classic Land Rover character that sets it apart from modern variants. Matthew dropped in a 350ci Chevy V-8 with a simple four-barrel carburetor, cobbled a somewhat rare Chevy NP435 transmission together and stuck it in front of a modded Rover T-case, and splits the power to dual Rover axles with lockers and upgraded axleshafts. No updated digital gauges, no modern link suspension, no bulldroppings. Just a cool, unique vintage 4x4 that gets used a ton on the trail, towing a vintage camper, or taking the family out for ice cream. More on this sweet Land Rover HERE.

Bradley Scoggins ’97 Toyota 4Runner
Ali Mansour
Technical Editor, Jp Magazine
I’ve shot many features over the years. Each one is cool in its own right, so it’s hard to call out one as my favorite. That being said, Bradley Scoggins ’97 Toyota 4Runner does stand out in my mind. While it worked great off-road, it was the craftsmanship in the build that really sold me on the rig. The cage work was cleanly executed inside and out and the small bed conversion was one of the cleanest I had ever seen. It was low and wide, which only added to its overall appeal and performance. To find out more about the hardcore 4Runner, click HERE.

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