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All letters become the property of Four Wheeler, and we reserve the right to edit them for length, accuracy, and clarity. The editorial department also can be reached through the Web site at www.fourwheeler.com. Due to the volume of mail, electronic and otherwise, we cannot respond to every reader, but we do read everything.
Reader: I have been a subscriber for a very long time, and I currently subscribe to six mags that fall under the Primedia family. I love them all, look forward to each mag with anticipation, and read every one of them from cover to cover. I even purchase every DVD you guys send me! Addiction only begins to describe my love of four-wheeling.
So, here is my question: How do I get on your radar? What I mean is, I've spent the last 12 months building an '87 YJ for Top Truck Challenge. I don't want to be just another application fed into the machine. I moved from New Jersey to Arizona just for better four-wheeling, and to introduce more wheelin' time into the quality of my life. I feel that the modifications to my truck would be considered good ones, and would like to be challenged. I am not asking for anything more then any other loyal subscriber, but there has to be an inside route to get invited into the fold. Please help!
via the Internet
Editor: We hate to break the news to you, but there's only one way to get to Hollister-by the votes of your fellow readers. Unfortunately, the deadline for entering for Top Truck 2006 has already passed, so you'll need to wait until later this year, when we publish our entry form in the magazine. 'Til then, wait for our April '06 issue, when we'll have our 2006 Top Truck entrants ready for your approval.
Reader: Now that gas prices are going up and SUV sales are heading down (building an SUV may no longer be the closest thing to being able to print your own money), perhaps it is time to rethink your (Jeep's) marketing and design strategies to better address your core market. I have owned three Jeeps over the years, the latest being '94 and '00 Grand Cherokees.
The latest redesign of the GC (in 2005, I believe) sports a wider and longer body than my '00, and the ground clearance numbers have suffered as a result. The '06 GC has breakover, approach, and departure angles that are each about 2 degrees less than my '00. Likewise, ground clearance is a little over ?? inch less. Regardless of Jeep calling the new Grand "Trail Rated," these numbers are not going in the right direction for trail driving. As gas prices go up, people who buy SUVs for driving only around town and on the highway are more likely to choose another type of vehicle when they buy their next car. I myself (and I suspect other four-wheelers as well) will still be looking for another trail machine even in the face of stiffer fill-up costs. Unless Jeep reverses course in time, when it comes time for me to replace my GC, I'll be looking at Hummer H3s, Land Rovers, and Toyota 4Runners.
Editor: Don't sell the new Grand Cherokee short based on specs alone. Granted, it's more pavement-biased than previous versions, but it's still fairly trailable in stock trim-our sister pub 4-Wheel & Off-Road liked it so much last year, they named it 4x4 of the Year for 2005. And trust us, Editor Rick Pewe and his boys subject their test vehicles to some severe-duty 'wheeling before they hand out the hardware.
But if you're in the market for another 4x4 and you want some expert opinions, you've come to the right place. Wanna see how the newest offerings from Hummer, Land Rover, and Toyota fare this year? Check out our 2006 Four Wheeler of the Year test on page 32.
Reader: I recently read your article about Project Nismo Frontier. I have been seriously considering getting a Nismo myself and was greatly pleased when I saw this project. I went to Stillen's Web site to find out more info about the leveling blocks you used and to see what other accessories they have. I was surprised to see that, in the info for the leveling blocks, it stated not to use them with the Nismo. I was wondering why that was? Also, if they aren't recommended, why did you go ahead and install them?
Milton, PA (currently in Iraq)
Editor: Project Nismo Frontier guru Robin Stover replies: According to the folks in Stillen R&D, the leveling kits will work with the Nismo vehicles. The confusion arose from variations that existed between a pre-production vehicle we were working with and subsequent production vehicles. We thought it was Nismo-specific, but according to Stillen, the leveling kits will work on all Frontiers.
On a related note: We did hear some complaints about the 2-inch kits, with the suspension hitting hard on the A-arms during heavy use. The new kits have been reduced in height to accommodate this, while still maintaining the leveling effect of the product.
Reader: I'm writing in regard to your project Teal-J II (Part XII, Oct. '05). Now that you've bulletproofed the axles and have put together a pretty capable rockcrawler, I can't help but think someone made a poor choice of wheels and tires that were just installed. It seems like an oxymoron to install all-terrains and 18-inch wheels on something built for extreme wheeling. I feel 18-inch wheels increase your chances for sidewall and rim damage. All-terrains greatly reduce traction on the type of rocks, snow, and mud we have in California. If you have to tow the Jeep, I suggest you get yourself a trailer and mount some Iroks or Mud Grapplers on the Jeep.
Also, I couldn't help but wonder what that axle job would cost if one were to have that work done by a shop. I sure wish you could give an idea of the hours of labor and retail cost of the parts when you do these types of articles. Other than that, thanks for the great mag and keep up the good work!
Editor: Ah, the old "18s versus the world" argument again. In general, we've always felt that as long as your tire diameter is (at least) twice the diameter of your rim, you've still got enough usable sidewall for all but the most radically-aired-down trail use. In our case, we mounted 37x13.50s on our 18s with bead locks, so we considered ourselves safe. And to date, we've had no tire problems 'wheeling the Teal over all manner of rocky trails throughout the Southwest.
As far as tire type goes, well, one of the great things about our projects is that they give us ability to swap new setups in and out as the years pass, be they suspension kits, engine mods, or wheels and tires. Rest assured, we'll be testing different treads on the Teal in the future.
We don't list prices as a rule in our project stories due to the variables involved, which would include things like the amount of custom work needed to complete the installation and/or the level of shop mechanic expertise.