When the first-ever copies of Four Wheeler hit the newsstands, there was no such thing as the Internet. Computers were the size of a living room, and ran on punch cards. Telephones came with rotary dials, and numbers with prefixes like CEdar and MAdison. Automobile suspensions were largely unchanged since the days of Conestoga wagons, and seat-belt anchors were only beginning to come into use. Radial tires only came from Europe, and bias-belteds didn't exist at all. Electronic fuel injection? No one had even thought of it yet. In 1962, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were both high-school students, and Ralph Nader was a private attorney.
Yet even then, the sport of four-wheel driving had a devoted, if small, following. A group of Jeepers in northern California had held an annual event they called a "Jamboree" on the Rubicon Trail for almost 10 years, and Jeep clubs with names such as Mile-Hi and Tierra Del Sol were already hosting monthly events throughout the Western states. Sensing a market for this new recreation, Robert Ames started the first monthly magazine solely dedicated to four-wheelers, their trails, and their vehicles. The inaugural issue only ran 16 pages, but it quickly caught on among enthusiasts, and by the end of the decade, Four Wheeler was firmly established as the leading authority in all things four-wheel-driven.
On the occasion of our 500th issue, we thought we'd take a look back at where we were in '62, and where we've come since then. Much has changed in four-wheeling, as in the world, yet our love of backcountry exploration and our desire to build vehicles that will enable us to get there, have remained a constant. Five hundred issues from now, we're sure our vehicles will be radically different than they are today, but our love of the outdoors, and our desire to build the ultimate 4x4, will likely be as strong as they are now-and were, 500 issues ago.