The killer robot lived in my closet, lying in wait for the chance to strike. He couldn’t come out from behind the door as long as I forcibly held it shut with an intent, watchful, unblinking stare. It was only when the inevitable onset of sleep caused my vigilance to wane that he stood a chance at getting me. But my blankets were an impenetrable barrier. As long as I remembered to pull them up over my head with my last conscious movement of the day, I would see the morning. It worked. I’m still here. That robot never got to me. But the flying monkeys . . . they could swoop down on you from anywhere, and at any time. I don’t know how 3-year-old me ever survived to see my fourth birthday.
Along with the Wicked Witch of the West’s flying monkey minions, what I remembered most about watching The Wizard of Oz on TV the one time a year the networks aired it (there were no VCRs in the early 1970s, kids), was the fiery scene in which the Wizard is finally unmasked with the now-ubiquitous line, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” The big, bombastic display was put on by one little guy furiously spinning wheels and levering levers and buttoning buttons. And up until now, that’s kind of how I’ve felt as the sole proprietor of my personal magazine project builds. For the most part, I’ve always built my own stuff by myself: Just one guy, furiously confliguring and thingamabobing stuff together to give the illusion that it’s all going to plan as smooth as a powdered baby bum. But now the curtain has been pulled back. And for the first time I’m laying my soul bare and reaching out for help.
I used to bang out cool and unique project rigs in my sleep. Well, figuratively speaking, of course. (That robot, after all.) But lately I’ve found balancing a healthy family life with running the 4WOR machine and being a major contributor to the workings of the Four Wheeler Network leaves me less time for major project vehicle shenanigans than I had in the days before kids and middle management. Which is the biggest reason my 1971 CJ-6 has languished virtually untouched on my trailer deck for the better part of five years. Seriously—that’s shameful. If I only had a brain I would’ve asked for some help. And I finally did.
I have often lauded Senior Editor Verne Simons’ creativity and uniqueness to anybody willing to listen. While the rest of the world looks at 4 as the sum of 2 plus 2, Verne sees it as the square root of 16. He just has a different method of arriving at the same place as everybody else. That prism of genius through which he views most things applies to his vehicle builds. So it is with some bruised pride, yet utter confidence, that I asked Verne to help screw together my former Border Patrol CJ-6 in time for me to drive it on the 2017 Ultimate Adventure. I came up with the build plan, but Verne is going to help flesh it into reality. I think you’ll like what we’re going to call the UACJ-6D.
I’ll be trailering it to Verne’s palatial shop outside of Phoenix, where the boogered, patina’d body will meet a more modern rolling chassis equipped with supple suspension, some trick drivetrain components, an extremely cool and unique crate engine, and . . . the rest. We’ll let Verne fill in the blanks. That is, if those damn flying monkeys don’t get him first.