I’m not a doomsday prepper with a stash of MREs buried in my yard. I don’t think zombies will one day spring up out of the ground and come for our brains. I don’t really believe the government will leverage a hostile takeover of American citizenry and send us all to live in FEMA death camps. I don’t wear tinfoil on my head to ward off space satellites reading my mind, and I don’t think my iPhone camera and microphone turn on at random intervals so the decedents of Steve Jobs can know how I like my eggs cooked. Maybe I’m wrong. Who knows. What I am, however, is a shooting enthusiast. There are some who would believe the simple fact I like plinking tin cans and old auto parts makes me guilty of all the aforementioned kookery, but in reality I just enjoy the smell of spent gunpowder and trying to hit the ten ring. And even though I have a pretty good collection of hardware, I always seem to want just one more.
As a gun enthusiast, I have some new polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols and modern long guns, but my favorites are my older pieces like my WWI 1915 Enfield rifle and old single-stack semi-auto pistols and simplistic revolvers. Just this morning I was searching gunbroker.com for an original, shootable .32-caliber Colt 1903. For some looking in from the outside it may seem silly to search out a 90-year-old pistol that costs twice as much and has half the knock-down capability as many modern alternatives, but that’s the way I operate. Maybe it’s all those Bogart movies I enjoy. The older stuff just has an aura about it the new firearms can’t come close to matching. And it’s not just firearms, and it’s not just me. It got me thinking about classic-leaning parallels in my automotive dealings and wondering how many Four Wheeler readers feel the same way.
Closed-Knuckle Axles: You can grab an open-knuckle Dana 44 and it’ll have internal-body hubs, stronger axleshafts, and way more locker and gearing options. But there’s just something cool about knowing you’ve got two steel balls full of knuckle pudding under you (gosh, that sounds dirty). And those cool vintage external-body old-school hubs just have style. For my vintage 1⁄4-ton rides, I’ll take a Dana 25 or Dana 27, thank you. Or maybe an M-715 Dana 60 for a fullsize something-or-other.
Drum Brakes: Sure, disc brake conversions abound for almost any application, but what kind of guy keeps drums on anything? This guy. I’m not recommending panic stops with 35s and 9-inch drums, but if you’ve got four properly adjusted 10 or 11-inch drums and 33-inch or smaller tires, there’s no huge need to swap to discs.
Carburetors: One of the best running off-road rigs I ever owned used a Rochester Q-Jet carburetor I pulled straight off an early ’70s junkyard Cadillac. Fuel-injection is sexy, but a carburetor can get you home even if your fuel pump dies.
Low-Back Seats: Safety should be a huge deal to anybody, and high-back seats are definitely safer in the event of a crash. However, something about driving a vehicle with a low-back bench seat just puts me in my happy place.
AM Radio: I’d kick anybody square in the plums for hacking the dash of a vintage vehicle to install a modern stereo. One of the most stress-reducing sound systems of any vehicle I ever owned was the original factory push-button AM radio and single speaker in my ’72 Jeep pickup.
White Wagon Wheels: Sure, I’ve run tons of fancy aluminum beadlocks, but I still really dig the look and budget of white steelies—especially if they’re big ones like 15x10 or 15x12 on a fullsize pickup or SUV.
Are you a vintage-anything aficionado? Upload your photo on my Instagram at @hbombindustries and add the hashtag #fourwheelermag for a chance to win some stickers and magazine plates for your 4x4.