Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
X

Vehicular Viagra - Firing Order

Posted in News on March 18, 2015
Share this

I’ve gotten soft. Not around the middle. Well, a little around the middle. If you only read the title and saw the photo of our long-term 2014 Range Rover Sport, you’re probably expecting me to start talking about how the Sport’s 510hp supercharged 5.0L V-8 is like a much-needed infusion of vigor and vitality. Nope. It’s actually quite the opposite. The Sport is the reason I’ve gone limp. Just a wet noodle behind the wheel. A real meat bag. It’s turned my driving skills flaccid and made me a whiney, pathetic excuse of an iron-fisted 4x4 ramrod.

I used to be a hardcore off-road stud. My daily driver was a Ramcharger with no roof and 42-inch TSLs. It was my only vehicle and shuttled me to the office, grocery store, or airport. I had to plan ahead for any grade ’cause the Dodge only had 4.10s in the diffs and a 250,000-mile 318 underhood. Passing? Why on earth would I do something as crazy as that? If I ever tried a pass that 6,800 rpm-induced valve float didn’t stymie, then death wobble from the unbalanced TSLs on re-centered HUMVEE beadlocks would. Better to just stay in my lane with two hands on the wheel and wait for the next unexplained noise to give my brain something to occupy its time. There was nothing to listen to but my thoughts anyway ’cause the radio got tossed in the dumpster along with the rest of the dash, carpet, and doors.

When I sold the Dodge, I went for my version of luxury: a stock ’71 CJ-6 I used for my 250-miles-per-day, five-days-per-week commute. The drive sucked, but the Jeep and I bonded. After all, what are 1,200-miles a week between friends? Weather? I probably shoulda thought of that when I was yanking the heater and wipers. They woulda come in handy many a cold, rainy night. Not that the open-top Jeep woulda retained much heat or the wipers woulda helped inside the windshield. And while the Buick 225 probably coulda managed a pass, I never dared for fear I’d need to come to a screeching 70-0 mph halt—or whatever the ’71 10-inch drum brake equivalent of “halt” is. I’m pretty sure it’s “crash.”

After the CJ, I rotated through a couple other piles before landing in the ’89 Wrangler, which I still own. Like all my other vehicles, it’s radio-delete. Only instead of passing the time wondering about errant sounds, I just sat back and waited for the narcotic-like exhaust and head gasket leaks to fog my brain. Nowadays I don’t even bother putting the top on for the winter. We both like it better that way, and I’m getting much less dain bramage.

But for the past year I’ve been enveloped in this warm Range Rovery cocoon of luxury. I’m sheltered from the elements and have brakes that can pull a jet out of the sky and an engine with absurd amounts of passing power. And to top it all off, the stupid thing actually wheels well off road, so I don’t even have the excuse of taking something more uncivilized to the trail. I’m an addict. I love it. I can’t live without it. But now I kinda have no choice because our time with it comes to an end in the June ’15 issue.

I’ll soon be swapping the 2014 Range Rover Sport for the 2015 Ram Power Wagon, which won our Pickup Truck of the Year award in this issue. No doubt, I’ll once again harden into the masochistic off-road stud I once was. The factory selectable lockers, lever-operated T-case, sat-nav, seat heaters, satellite radio, power seats—um, crap. Maybe I could take the doors off it and kick out the windshield. Naaah. It’s just a sign of the times I guess. You don’t have to suffer to enjoy a vehicle on-road that wheels well off-road. Unless you really want to.

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results