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Rear Passenger Side
Wendy Frazier | Writer
Posted April 1, 2002

The Best of the Worst

Step By Step

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  • Bad Mud
    Check out the parade wave from the passenger window. More like, “Get me out of here. Now!” Richard Smith and his wife were off-roading in Attica, Indiana, at the Badlands when their ’94 Cherokee took a subterranean dive towards China. Both driver and passenger jumped out to safety on the driver side. With the help of friends they were pulled backwards within minutes to enjoy the rest of the day wheeling.

  • Daily Grind
    It doesn’t take a genius to screw in a lightbulb and it does not take a big hill to roll a Jeep. While on a jobsite in Chula Vista, California, James Avila was dinkin’ around on a hill and dumped the ’89 Cherokee on its lid. Who says you have to go rockcrawling to roll? It took the brunt and grunt from eight drywallers to right the Jeep. After a quart of oil the champ started right up.

  • Crusher
    Brakes are important. Corey Farmer of Belleville, Michigan, threw the pickup into Reverse and lead-footed it past the stopping point and rammed into a poor little Ranger. Guess he should have fixed the brakes!

  • Road Rules
    Unfortunately it’s hard to see washouts in the dark as Pete Bloodsgood Jr. learned when his Blazer toppled onto its side. Potential landslide danger made the situation a little hairier. Luckily with the help of a come-a-long the vehicle survived and no one was hurt.

  • “What a Little Beauty”
    Can’t you just picture the Crocodile Hunter wrestling this beauty of a Blazer out of the river? Arthur Hoffmann found out that his ’70 didn’t have aquatic capabilities after all. After testing one side of the river it became time to test the waters on the other side. It was then that the Blazer submerged in the safety of the deep.

  • Stake Your Claim
    Little Sluice claimed another small wheelbaser on a crawling attempt during a Rubicon trail run.

  • On Any Sunday
    One late Sunday night Brian Sneed of Gainsville, Florida, with buddies Chad and Leeroy decided to go for a late-night ride. And as the cliche goes, if you’re gonna play you’re gonna pay. As soon as his ’86 Toyota entered the mud hole the truck sank to its headlights. Instinctively Brian floored it but the truck sank to a stuck. Luckily he and the boys winched it out from the rear, cleaned out the starter, and drove home.

  • Klondike
    Time, energy, money, dreams, and a ’79 Bronco all thrown down the incline while pushing snow during a North Hampshire winter. The heavy rain followed by 10 inches of snow created some icy conditions, which always seem to produce a good Whoops! predicament. Good thing the plow biz owns a wrecker too.

  • Hot Diggity
    On an Easter Sunday romp in Arizona, the boys got a little too ambitious with the right pedal and sank the dual-wheeled setup down deep. By verifying the earth science details, Rick Godsey took the matter into his own hands and scooped out excess earthy material. Come to find out, if he would have taken the matter into his own hands in the first place by pulling the transfer case lever, he may have avoided this stuck.

  • Just Them Good Ol’ Boys
    Easing into the center of a Kentucky pond in his ’93 F-150 with 39.5 Super Swampers, Abby Ray Peterson learned quickly that a resolute attack of the gas pedal was definitely a better way to go. A backhoe and a couple of “good ol’ boys” helped remove the Ford from the pond. Luckily the lesson only cost $21.96 for parts from a local boneyard and a few broken log chains.

  • Striking It
    Spewing from the depths of the earth in Walled Lake, Michigan, and below the horsepower-loaded wheels, the ’77 F-250 kept digging and digging and digging its way until, alas, it struck oil. Actually, the intensive situation was glorified by a mud fountain generated by Jim Williams’ right foot.

  • “Sir, This Hole Came Out of Nowhere”
    After a week of Virginia Beach rain, and an hour of wrestling with a tow truck, a winch, and the Virginia State Police, the Wrangler was coerced from its mud hole. With the Jeep vitals intact, Vic Hundley was back on the road within the hour.

  • Eavesdrop
    In an attempt to find a good place to hunt, Jose Rivera decided to explore this river in Puerto Rico. Instead of finding quality stomping grounds, he found a shelf in the river that dropped the Blazer to its hood. If it wasn’t for a nearby Bronco and a tractor, the rig would have dove to a watery death.

  • A River Runs Through It
    After the rains, Dan Baublits was trying to find a new river crossing to get to his favorite stomping grounds. The Nisqually River (near Mt. Rainer, WA) had another plan and swallowed the ’77 GMC short box whole. Worse yet was Dan’s brisk swim to shore in the cold January waters. Burrrr!

  • One Day Too Many
    Take your rig out for what you think is a couple hours of wheeling fun and what do you get? Stuck! And a two-day ordeal to dig the ’81 Ford Bronco with 6 inches of lift and 36-inch Super Swampers out of the mud. It took Chip Myers and his friends three 3/4-ton trucks, a Hi-Lift, and a come-a-long to extricate the truck.

  • Don’t Mess With Texas
    Why yes, that is a ’99 F-250 sunk in the Texas mud. The divers discovered that there was an 8-inch lift with 38-inch Swampers under the truck. Larry Battles of Corsicana, Texas, wrote, “It sure didn’t look that deep from the road.” That’s what they all say! Recovery tools included a 9,000-pound winch and a K-5 Blazer and it took a few hours to pull out the stuck truck.

  • 1994–Just K. Willis
    I usually drive a restored ’43 GPW, but when visiting my mother-in-law at Lake Almanor, California, I used her ’76 CJ-5. I had just returned from gasing up for an expedition when, while talking to my wife and her mother, we saw her Jeep roll past the side of the house, down the back lawn, through a split-rail fence, and over several huge rocks, only to land in the lake and sink.

  • 1995–Miles Brown
    After tugging at the front to no avail, we hooked to the rear and this is what we discovered: While pulling forward, we had wedged a log above the right tire. Each pull put more pressure on the ball joints until they gave out. We ended up pulling the Jeep out and loading it onto a dolly for the rest of the weekend.

  • 1996–Virgil Hollins
    I took my eyes off the road and swerved, then overcorrected and rolled my ’82 Toyota pickup four or five times. If it wasn’t for my seatbelt and the Downey interior bar, I wouldn’t be here. I only needed four stitches on my forehead. But I don’t think I’ll get the Toy running again.

  • 1997–David Freiburger
    This is Kevin Hodges’ carb fire, caught by then-Editor David Freiburger, featured on the cover of December ’97 4-Wheel & Off-Road. Pleasantly, the Suzuki survived and was given a new skin and a transplanted 4.3 Chevy engine. Consequently the engine swap was less expensive than replacing the stock Suzuki engine.

  • 1998–Shawn Rochelle
    My friend and I went mudding in the rain at 3 a.m. My Toyota stuck in a ditch and my friend got stuck trying to pull me out with his Jeep. Our rigs were pulled out two days later by an International tractor.

  • 1999–Tori Tellem
    Our Online Editor Tori Tellem caught this great Whoops! moment during Psycho II’s crash-landing at the ’98 U.S. Truck Fest in Colorado.

  • 2000–Jake White
    My uncle was wheeling down the trail, not paying much attention when, after driving into a washed-out portion, the Jeep lost control and pitched him into a rock as it continued 300 feet down the face of the canyon Yeah, right—Editor.

  • 2001–Damien Aube
    Where: Hinesburg, VT •What: Jeep Cherokee Hot Pocket •Why: The Ranger said all campfires must be in a metal container above the ground. •Burl Ives: We’ve heard of chestnuts roasting and all, but come on.

It’s that time again. The time of year that we here at 4-Wheel & Off-Road get to celebrate pure asininity. Whoops!, the last page monthly feature has become a tradition of readers and their rigs in imprudent positions. They don’t just signify, well, a lack of better judgement. Nope, they remind us of the times we’ve pushed ourselves too closely to the limit to test our own foolishness. As the optimist says, “Good things always come from the bad.” A lesson learned, a new wheeling buddy with a SuperDuty, new parts that you were “meaning to replace,” or your photo in our magazine.

This year’s Best of Whoops! installment is what we’re calling the best of the worst. Traditionally these pages are almost always graced by photos we’ve stashed away throughout the year. We’ve dug through our new contributions for those up-to-date crazy antics, but we’ve also included a look back over the most intensely (and visually) shocking “Best of Whoops” images spanning almost 10 years of the tradition.

Inevitably, irrevocably, indubitably, if you’d like us to shamelessly promote your Whoops! predicament, send us your photo, including a description of the who, what, where, why, and how. Taking photos at inopportune times is difficult, but if you have to squint to make out the photo, put that shot in the circular file and send us the clear one. Save the photo in which you can make out faces for the family album, and we have to have permission in the form of a signed letter from the owner of the vehicle in the photo (hopefully that’s you) to run the photo. Send your mishap adventure snaps to 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine, Whoops!, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048.