May 2007 Mailbag - Jp Letters to the EditorPosted in Project Vehicles on May 1, 2007 0) (
As I sat at work in my company vehicle at the airport on Thanksgiving, I picked up the January '07 issue and found one rig in the article titled "Perfect 10" that I just couldn't agree with you guys more on. George Kane's ZJ is an awesome rig-flat out beautiful. The engineering that went into that thing was top notch. Grands are still somewhat rare on the trails. I have mine and have invested many hours, busted knuckles, and many broken parts, but I have yet to dent a body panel.
Some of the thought that went into George's ZJ got my brain going. I like most every aspect of that Jeep. While still overkill in my book, due to the cost of many things done to it (full cage, 9-inch rearend, bypass shocks, and so on), seeing pictures of that Jeep always leaves me wanting more. I have built my ZJ up from a two-wheel-drive grocery-chaser/CJ-5 hauler, to a lifted, locked, 33-inch, off-road rolling fun machine. Seeing ZJs like George's keeps my blood pumping and keeps me attached to your mag. There are many, many modded ZJs out there now, so I hope to continue seeing more of them in the future. Nice choice on George's rig. I couldn't have imagined a top-10 list without it.
Ray City, Georgia
It was a cool Jeep. The owner, George Kane, recently sent us an e-mail informing us that the Grand Runner was wrecked a few months ago in Stoddard Valley, California. Apparently, it was in an off-road accident and hit by an uninsured race car. The front axlehousing looked broken in two and there was some body damage done as well. George says you can keep up with the rebuild at www.offroadevolution.com, which may include a V-8 and other upgrades. Hopefully, he'll get it up and running again soon.
The salesperson at a local Jeep dealership told me of a new 4.0L V-6 producing 255 hp for the new Wrangler. It will not be available until the fall of 2007. Have you heard anything?
The engine you've mentioned is already out. It's currently found in the Dodge Nitro R/T. It shares the same architecture as the Jeep 3.8L V-6. Will it find its way into the Wrangler? Maybe, maybe not. But I can tell you that your dealer doesn't know for sure, and he will, in fact, be the last to find out.
I've reserved judgment on the new JK chassis until I could see one in the flesh. I'm afraid my initial concerns were well founded. The new vehicle is too large for the more narrow trails I encounter above tree line here in Colorado. My '97 TJ has taken me over numerous passes and to the top of some 14,000-foot passes, and it was even scary-wide on some of the narrow ledges that wind their way above 2,000-foot drop-offs. Also, many of the narrower trails through the timber will scrape up a TJ. Midsize and fullsize rigs dare not take many of those trails.
The four-door JK is about the size of an H3, which is too big for the types of trails described above. Also, the National Forest Service installs anti-erosion dams along the trails, which a stock TJ on 30s can barely get over; the four-door JK will most surely high-center on these berms.
It seems the Trail Rated engineers did not bother to come up here to try out their new wonder Jeeps. But that's OK. They just made my TJ an instant classic, and it will hold its value much better than before. Yes, I acknowledge that the JK has some much-improved hardware, but all the gold plating in the world will not make up for rolling off the edge of Webster Pass and falling 1,500 feet into the valley below. Your insistence on writing ad copy for Jeep is a very transparent attempt to mollify loyal customers into accepting what they know is not in their best interest. The JK is probably better on-road than a TJ, but that's not the primary mission of a Jeep. I think Jeep has taken a wrong turn trying to convert a very successful, narrowly focused niche vehicle and make into all things for all people.
I get a kick out of all the misinformed letters I receive about this sort of thing. I mean, everybody seemed to absolutely wet themselves over the Jeep Gladiator concept pickup that we introduced in the March '05 issue ("Gladiator 2005"). Really, I didn't get a single letter from anyone who hated it. There were zero complaints about the "flenders" or the slanted plastic grille, both of which are identical to the JK's production parts. And guess what? The Gladiator is as wide as a JK and has a 138-inch wheelbase. That's 22 inches longer than the four-door JK and a massive 43 inches longer than the two-door JK! Nobody even mentioned the breakover angle.
Anybody remember the Jeep Rescue concept vehicle ("Concept or Reality," August '04)? It was based on a Dodge 31/44-ton diesel pickup chassis. Yeah, it was wide and long. Again, not a single complaint from readers. We still get letters from people wondering what happened to both of these vehicles, and we're constantly questioned if they'll ever be built.
Aside from all that, I absolutely pull my hair out over the unbelievably false information sent to me in these kinds of letters. The H3 is actually over 11 inches wider than the JK. And the truth is that the two-door JK has more ground clearance, an increased breakover angle, a better departure angle, and a better approach angle than the TJ. Yes, the JK track width is 2.4 inches wider than a TJ, but your cliff complaint seems unfounded. Check out "TJ vs. JK" in the May '06 issue for more accurate comparison specs. I mean, let's compare apples to apples here. Comparing the four-door JK to a two-door TJ for a breakover berm test is like sizing up a helicopter to Paris Hilton for flight capability. Come on, people. If you wanna make fun of the thing, at least use your heads. Say the JK windshield looks like a banana lying on the hood when it's folded down! Tell us that power windows are for girls! Make fun of how the four-door with the doors removed looks like a stripped station wagon with a hideous B-pillar! Let us know that you think the shifter feels like it's attached with rubber bands. Use your imaginations, but don't create imaginary JK specifications to make yourselves feel better about your TJ.
First off, I want to say I love your magazine! I've subscribed for years and will continue to do so for a long time. I love Jeeps in all shapes forms and sizes. I currently have two XJs (one is sitting dormant in the driveway-we'll call it a "project"). I eagerly await every issue of your magazine and read them cover to cover several times. Up until now, I never had a reason to write in. After reading the January '07 Trail Head, I felt like I took a big slap in the face. You see, I work in sales at a Jeep dealership, and I have to say that I can't think of a better job than helping people purchase a Jeep, whether it's their first or 50th. I get to be around Jeeps all day, it puts food on the table, Jp Magazines in the mailbox, and upgrades on the XJs. I realize there are a lot of dealers that have no ethics or morals whatsoever, but there are also a lot of magazines like that. I hate to be lumped into the herd by people who stereotype car salesman as the worst element of society. Anyway, that's enough negative for now. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of good, honest, hard-working dealership employees across the country, many of which are Jeep owners and Jp readers. Don't let a few bad apples spoil the bunch.
I was eager to open the October '06 issue of Jp, where I stopped my initial browsing at a photo of the Gladiator concept truck and article on the future of diesel engines (Trail Head). I read through expecting to be enlightened by the wisdom of Jeep experts along with exciting news about the coming of the CRD. Instead, I found comments about heavy engines with no practical use in a Jeep.
I recently took my first Rubicon Trail trip during the '06 Jeeper's Jamboree, where I witnessed hundreds of Jeeps revving up and stalling out simply in an effort to climb the rocks. Our 4.0L spent several days below 2,500 rpm, while much of the rockclimbing was done below 1,500 rpm. I have some knowledge of diesel engines, and I believe that we could've idled through most of the trail with the low-end torque of a diesel. I happened to meet a YJ owner who had installed a Frito-Lay truck four-cylinder diesel, and his report of the trail confirmed my thoughts-diesel's idle and don't stall.
The Jp article stated that diesels don't do much in the mud and sand, but we're talking about Jeeps and not those overgrown, over-horsepowered, suburban pickups that can't fit on the truly challenging trails. I believe that you bozos will have to eat your words in the future when the diesel is king of the trail, especially once I take over as the new Jp editor and return you poop-throwing primates to the jungle where your intellectual abilities are better suited for eating bugs out of each other's fur.Sarcastically yours,
Hey, easy there, I keep my fur pretty clean, Christian is bald, and Pete, well, I wouldn't eat anything off of him.
Yep, a diesel will out-idle a gas engine, hands down. This is perfect on a boulder-strewn trail where low-rpm torque is king. However, most of our Jeeps spend a good amount of time on the road where that particular low-rpm diesel engine wouldn't be quite as fun or practical.
Now there are diesels that have good high-rpm and low-rpm traits along with less vibration, however, the new emissions laws for 2007 have put a little bit of a binder on what can be run in a smaller vehicle (GVWR below 6,000 pounds). Ultimately, the new small diesel engines that will pass emissions are very expensive to build and often have complicated emissions systems that are nowhere near as simple and compact as the Cummins industrial engine you saw on the trail.
Thank you for doing the reasonable and unbiased article on the new Wrangler JK ("Problem Solved," November '06). I found it very informative, and it actually shot down much of the bad info I have read on Internet message boards.
I keep wondering why so many people hate change so much? Every time we get a new Jeep (or any car with such a loyal following), everyone cries that it's the end of the segment as we know it. Anyone who has been around the hobby for a while has heard them all.
It was before my time, but my dad remembers CJ-5 owners saying the CJ-7 was too big. When the CJ gave way to the YJ, all the "loyalists" said it was awful, horrible, a girls vehicle, and not a real off-roader. Because of the designation "YJ," many dubbed it the Yuppie Jeep. But now it's hard to find someone who will admit to hating the YJ as an off-road vehicle.
When the TJ came out, everyone bitched about coil springs. The whole "I love leaf spring" crowd went nuts. Many people said they would never be as good as a CJ/YJ off-road. We all know how that worked out. I'd bet some of those complainers even converted their CJ/YJ to coils.
The JK is the same thing. In two years, no one will admit they hated it. All the people on the message boards who said it was crappy will say they always loved it. The bottom line: it's better in many ways, is still the best off-road option offered by any manufacturer, and is cheaper than last year's model.
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