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October 2008 4x4 News RPM

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 1, 2008
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Photographers: Brenda Priddy & CompanyBrian Williams

While the 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 was being readied for launch, our spy caught the 2010 Ram Heavy Duty out hot-weather testing in Death Valley, California. We expect the big Ram to be unveiled in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Thanks to the challenging sales environment for fullsize trucks, Ford has cancelled plans to use the Boss engine family in the F-150. Our sources tell us that work on the Boss continues in some form and that the engine could still be a candidate for the Super Duty. You might recall that the Boss engine program (formerly known as Hurricane) was revived by Mark Fields to be Ford's next-gen truck engine. What does this mean for the Boss-powered Raptor? Well, considering that the Raptor was to be built on the same assembly line as the F-150, it is not economically feasible to install tooling in the plant to install and test an engine that is only going to be in one limited production model, so the death of Boss for the F-150 also means the death of Boss for the Raptor. Will this be the end of the Raptor program? We have heard rumblings that because of the Boss news, the Raptor program is "under review" with a likelihood of it not going forward, though some sources closer to the program say that there are enthusiasts within Ford still fighting for it and it could go forward, but with a different drivetrain. If this is indeed the case, the introduction of the desert bad boy would be pushed back from the original planned date while development validation is completed on this new engine.

In a surprising move, GM has publicly stated that the Hummer brand is currently under strategic review and that "all options are on the table," including a possible sale of the brand. In recent months GM killed off the next-generation H2, and now suppliers are saying that work has be stopped on the next generation H3, and that plans for the H4 have been put on hold, which is a shame considering that fuel-efficient powertrains were planned for all models. From what we can tell, there are only a few things that can happen now. A. GM decides to keep Hummer. B. GM decides to fold Hummer. C. GM decides to sell Hummer. D. GM decides to sell Hummer and continue building its products for the new owners under a licensing agreement. We hope that GM's knee-jerk reaction to the current economic situation doesn't lead to the closure or sale of Hummer. We think Hummer is an important enough product to keep around, with increasing sales success in the international market (international sales are 20 percent of Hummer sales after a few short years). They are very capable vehicles that have been put to use in everything from Border Patrol fleets to American Red Cross recovery efforts.

If we were GM, we would sell Hummer as its own brand within Chevrolet showrooms, much as they do with Corvette, and let it be a stand-alone brand overseas where it is enjoying success. This would limit dealer overhead and still make an exceptional product available. Unfortunately, we are not GM and it appears we'll be losing more great off-road products, although the 2009 H3T will launch as planned. Good luck Hummer-we are pulling for you.

On May 31, 2008, off-road racing legend and Team Hummer owner Rod Hall entered the record books once again as he earned his record-breaking 18th career Baja 500 win in the 2008 40th Anniversary SCORE International Baja 500. Hall and Mike Winkel, also of Reno, piloted his Rod Hall Racing Hummer H3 to first place in the Stock Mini class in a time of 14:42:54. Hall, 70, finished an hour and a half after his youngest son Chad Hall, also of Reno, won the Stock Full class in the No. 862 H3 Alpha for Team Hummer in 13:09:53 for his first win in the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 and second class win this season. The H3 Alpha was the first production vehicle to cross the finish line. The 2008 Baja 500 was the third consecutive Baja 500 Hall has won the Stock Mini class and is the seventh consecutive SCORE International race that Hall has piloted the H3 to a class win.

Controversial Wilderness Bill Approved by Congress Will Limit Four WheelingCongress has approved legislation designating 106,000 acres in Washington state's Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as wilderness. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law. SEMA and the off-highway vehicle (OHV) community opposed the bill and supported an alternative version to preserve existing roads and trails on about 13,000 acres of the land. By law, wilderness areas generally prohibit roads and the use of motorized vehicles. The issue is consequential to SAN members, as off-roaders will have less riding areas in the region. The measure, which is commonly referred to as the "Wild Sky Wilderness" may sound familiar to SEMA members as it has been pushed in Congress for about five years. In years past, the bill was blocked by former House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) who, with SEMA's support, proposed a compromise "backcountry wilderness" designation to set aside specific tracks of land that have existing roads and trails. Chairman Pombo was defeated in the 2006 election, and the bill's sponsors were able to pursue the legislation without concession. Leaders in the Democrat-controlled Congress are now moving forward on other wilderness proposals, which also may not adequately protect existing roads and trails. Currently, there are more than 20 other wilderness bills pending before Congress.

Available in September, the BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain KM2 will be available in the following 21 new sizes:

LT215/75R15 100/97Q LRC RWL
LT235/75R15 104/101Q LRC RWL
LT325/60R15 106Q LRC RWL
LT225/75R16 110/107Q RWL
LT235/70R16 104/101Q LRC RWL
LT235/85R16 120/116 Q LRE RWL
LT245/75R16 120/116 Q LRE RWL
LT255/70R16 115/112 Q LRD RWL
LT255/85R16 123/120 Q LRE RWL
LT265/75R16 123/120 Q LRE RWL
LT285/75R16 126/123 Q LRE RWL
LT305/70R16 118/115 Q LRD RWL
30X9.50R15 104 Q LRC RWL
31X10.50R15 109Q LRC RWL
32X11.50R15 113Q LRC RWL
33X10.50R15 114Q LRC RWL
33X12.50R15 108Q LRC RWL
35X12.50R15 113Q LRC RWL
LT245/75R17 121/118Q LRE RWL
LT255/80R17 121/118Q LRE RWL
LT265/70R17 121/118Q LRE RWL

Bilstein is launching the largest consumer promotion in the history of the company, with the announcement of the Bilstein Baja Challenge Sweepstakes. There are two grand prizes consisting of an all-expenses-paid trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where each winner and their guest get to drive Bilstein shock-equipped Wide Open Baja race cars for three days on the real Baja 1000 race course. Each winner of the grand prize gets to bring along another person. This is a behind-the-wheel driving experience and much more than a simple racing school or guided low-speed tour. The Bilstein-Wide Open Challenge pushes the envelope of an adventure-based experience, and shows the participants just how well Bilstein shocks perform. Wide Open's exclusive open-wheel race cars provide guests with the performance and safety of a modern desert racer, but are comfortable enough for anyone to drive. Seasoned guides lead you through the entire journey, and the trip is planned to the final detail. Baja is rugged, untamed, and truly wide open, and just because you'll get a little dirty doesn't mean it's uncivilized. The trip includes first-class accommodations (where possible) and the finest meals that Baja has to offer. Even miles from nowhere, Bilstein and Wide Open make sure the legendary Baja hospitality is in place in even the most remote situations. Secondary prizes include four sets of Bilstein shocks and four Bilstein racing jackets. Entries open June 2. Contest closes September 30, 2008; winners announced October 13, 2008. Log on to to enter.

- Looks like the actual '09 Dodge Ram 1500 fuel economy will be closer to 20 mpg highway, not the 23 as we originally reported.

- Rumor has it that a last-minute decision has been made to continue producing the current Ford Ranger until 2011.

- The next-gen Silverado has been put on hold and will not appear in 2012 as originally planned.

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