One could say this magazine favors Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota, and Jeep. One could be right. But that's not to say we dislike certain makes or models just because you don't see them in here every month. Our pages simply tend to fall under the rule of supply and demand: readers demand, we supply. But over the course of this magazine's history, we have not forgotten the non-Big Five. Honest.
Suzukis, International, and Mitsubishi have claimed our cover. An Isuzu, Lexus, and even a Ford Ranger have nabbed 4x4 of the Year awards. Nissan has done that twice. We've covered buildups, trail rides (when they're there, our cameras are on them like Yeti), new products-and just this year called the Scout II and Isuzu Trooper two of the best 4x4s on Earth. While these vehicles may not be as highly requested by readers as, say, a Ford F-150, they've each clearly proven themselves worthy participants in the off-road world. Since Hummer, Nissan, Isuzu, Scout, Land Rover, and Ford Explorer owners are active in the community but feel the most ignored, we wanted to highlight a number of clubs (North American-based, and some official, some not), aftermarket companies, and events dedicated to servicing them. Here's a sampling of what's out there if you're looking to build one-or simply have a hankering to gang up on us with other like-minded enthusiasts.
Isuzu has been hit or miss (Trooper, hit; Rodeo, decent; Ascender, desperate; Axiom, more fun on the pavement than on the dirt; Vehicross, way cool), but it has still managed to sneak some sturdy components into even its less hard-core four-bys, such as a Dana 44 in the Amigo. Isuzu followers almost seem to have gone underground-which is unfortunate, since the brand is struggling and could really use them more than ever before.
Isuzu Online Community We Like: Isuzu Trooper Owners Guild, www.itog.com
Isuzu Event You Might Want to Attend: The annual Zu Zoo (www.zuzoo.org) in Moab.
E-ZooZoo Isuzu 4x4 Owners Club
4x4Wire Isuzu Club
Midwest Isuzu Off-Road
Planet Isuzu Club
Whether it's the military H1 or the GM-born H2 and H3, the Hummer is probably the vehicle that comes to mind when the public thinks of an off-road machine. There's the H1's heavy-duty brawn and war-hero rep-plus recent status as collector's item. Then there's the exploding fan clubs for the H2, thanks to its Humvee exterior and 31/44-ton creamy center, all packaged in a more parking-lot-friendly size. The new, shrunken H3 is a rockcrawler that might give potential Jeep buyers pause to think.
Hummer Online Community We Like: The Hummer Network, www.humvee.net
Hummer Event You Might Want to Attend: Northern California Hummer Group's annual Fun in the Sun and Sand at Pismo Beach/Dunes combines with the Southern California Hummer Owners Group to bring together triple-digit attendance.
Arizona Hummer Owners Group
Canadian Hummer Club
Colorado Hummer Club
The H2 Club
The Hummer Club
Hummer Club of New Jersey
Hummers of Long Island
Illiana Hummer Club (Illinois and Indiana)
New England Hummer Owners Group
Northern California Hummer Group
Omaha Hummer Owners Group (Nebraska)
Pacific Northwest Hummer Owners Group
Southeastern Hummer Club
Southern California Hummer Owners Group
Wisconsin Hummer Owners Group
Nissan is cranking out serious players nowadays. Over the years we've found the Frontier increasingly more fun to drive and were blown away by the NISMO off-road package. The redesigned Xterra is the best it has ever been, and the Titan came out of the box with power and performance both on and off road. As Glen Meloy, president of Southwestern Xterra Club, told us, "Nissan has started to come into its own as a company that can really compete in the off-road game."
Nissan Online Community We Like: Nissan Offroad, www.nissanoffroad.net
Nissan Event You Might Want to Attend: Check out Nissan4Wheeler's A-Z Run (in Arizona), and Gone Moab (gonemoab.com, which happens in May the week before Memorial Day).
Arizona Xterra Club
Calgary Nissan and Import 4x4 Club
Eastern North Carolina Xterra Club
Heartland Xterra Owners Club
Midwest Xterra Owners
New England Xterra Club
Nissan Offroad Association of the Southeast
Northeast Import Off Road Association (NIORA)
Northern California Club Xterra
Pacific Northwest Xterra Club
Rocky Mountain Xterra Club
Southeast Xterra Frontier Club
Southern California Club Xterra
Southern Ontario Xterra Club
Southwestern Xterra Club
Texas Nissan Trucks
Twin Cities Xterra Club
Upstate New York Xterra Club
Utah Xterra Owners Club
Virginia Xterra Club
West Pennsylvania Xterra Club
Xterra Owners Club
Camel Trophy says it all. The annual event allowed Land Rover vehicles to get beaten, bashed, drowned, and subjected to all sorts of bad smells from its weary occupants competing in the thrash-fest in exotic locales. And yet the trucks just keep on trucking. In the states, Land Rover may have more of a perception of putting out overpriced poseur SUVs driven by overpriced actors, but the debut of the LR3 proved the automaker has still got it. It has kept its off-road legacy alive, and with the most advanced engineering you'll find on the rocks.
Land Rover Online Community We Like: The Enthusiast's Range Rovers Site, www.rangerover.net
Land Rover Event You Might Want to Attend: The annual Land Rover National Rally, which will take place in Moab September 28-30 (as in, a couple of weeks away). The Solihull Society has the details.
Alabama Land Rover Club
Arizona Land Rover Owners
Bay State Rover Owner's Assoc.
Blue Ridge Land Rover Club
Carolina Rover Owners Club
Chicago Land Rover Club
Finger Lakes Rover Club
Florida Land Rover Club
Great Lakes Land Rover Club
High Desert Rovers of New Mexico
Houston Land Rover Club
Land Rover Adventure Assoc. of Ontario
Land Rover Club of Las Vegas
Land Rover Club of San Diego
Land Rover Club of Tennessee
Minnesota Land Rovers
Northern California Rover Club
The Old North State Land Rover Society
Ottawa Valley Land Rovers
Pacific Coast Rover Club
Rover-Landers of British Columbia
Rover Owners' Assoc. of Virginia
Southern California Land Rover
Southern Land Rover Society
St. Louis Land Rover Society
The Toronto Area Rover Club
The Ford Explorer is the best-kept secret in the off-road world. With a few modifications, they become nearly unstoppable," says Rick Horwitz of Serious Explorations. "The trouble is that most people equate a Ford Explorer with soccer moms and shopping malls rather than off-road trails."
Ford Explorer Event You Might Want to Attend: Two of the big annuals for Explorers are Truckhaven Hills (in Southern California) and a trip to Moab about a month after the Easter Jeep Safari. Serious Explorations has the info.
Ford Explorer Online Community We Like: Explorer Forum, www.explorerforum.com
Kansas City Explorers
Not many trucks can claim true bloodlines to a farm, but International Harvester dabbled in both trucks and agriculture. When the Scout debuted in 1961, it became "the other Jeep." International's vehicles seem to pop up at farm shows more than 4x4 events, but with an available V-8, Dana 44s, and beefy implement-inspired mechanicals, it's not a surprise that the Scouts, Travelall, and pickup crowd is so loyal-no matter where they do appear.
International Online Community We Like: The Binder Bulletin, www.binderbulletin.org
International Event You Might Want to Attend: Arizona IH Rendezvous, which happens every April. Sonora Desert Scouts will have details.
Bi State Binders
North Texas Binders
Rocky Mountain Binders
Scout Owners of Texas
Sonora Desert Scouts
These sources offer bolt-ons, suspension parts, and performance items for such vehicles as Nissan, Hummer, Isuzu, Scout, Land Rover, and more.
Desert Rat Truck Centers
Gale Banks Engineering
High Impact Transmission & Gear
Holley Performance Brands
Jet Performance Products
Laguna Speed Shop
Rancho Suspension Systems
Randy's Ring & Pinion
Rocky Mountain Suspension Products
Rough Country Suspension Systems
Super Truck Essentials
Top Gun Customz
Total Chaos Fabrication
Truck Performance Center Wholesale
Tuffy Security Products
West Coast Differentials