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4 Wheeling News - Drivelines

The latest 4x4 related news

SEMA Show Special!
The SEMA Show is where 2,500 companies display automotive specialty equipment across more than 1 million square feet of space inside the Las Vegas Convention Center plus 1.5 million square feet of space outside and around the center. There are about 130,000 people at the show, including 60,000 buyers and vendors and 3,000 members of the media, all looking for the hottest new products. How do you stand out and make an impression in such a crowd? Be more outrageous and imaginative (or sometimes more subtle) than the next guy. Here are the 4x4s that caught our eye at SEMA 2014.

Daystar Jeep FC-170
By far the coolest vehicle at the show was the track-laying FC owned by Mark Turner, Daystar’s CEO. Turner had the former farm truck for two years before beginning its reconstruction, which was completed in six months. The restoration was handled by a number of people, including Daystar employees, who built the 5.7L Hemi that powers the little Jeep. Most of the bed sheetmetal was hand-formed, and the unique green paint was laid down by Crusty, who talked Turner out of the cream-over-black scheme he had planned. Read more about this truck on page 60.

IFS Wrangler
In the Bilstein booth was Casey Currie’s JK-RK (for Raptor Killer), with a front A-Arm suspension and a supercharged Chevy LSX V-8 underhood. “I want to go faster and farther than my friends,” Currie says about why he built the Jeep.

Legacy Power Wagons
In the muscle car world these would be called restomods: restored vintage bodies with contemporary powertrains. Legacy Power Wagon had a couple of Cummins-powered Dodges at SEMA, the green Carryall in its own booth and a red pickup in the Rancho/Dynomax display. The hand-built flashback 4x4s are also available with Chevy LS engines.

Not-So Flat Fenders
Big fenders were sort of a trend at SEMA. The more subdued of these two (if you can call it that) is the Thrasher, built by military vehicle supplier Jankel. The massive flares are made from 12-gauge steel; beneath the ruggedized exterior is a Wrangler with a 21⁄2-inch lift and 35-inch tires. The more radical one is the Fab Fours Legend. It rolls on 50-inch tires wrapped around 24-inch wheels. A 4-inch roof chop helps the drastic change in proportions. There’s no lift, the V-6 is stock, and there are Dynatrac axles at both ends, though the rep in the booth couldn’t tell us the gear ratios.

Old School Still Cool
OK, so I’m an old fart. My favorite trucks at SEMA were old farts too, like the beautifully restored F-1 in Ford’s display, the wide assortment of vintage Jeeps in the Omix-ADA Off-Road Success Center, and the fireman’s CJ2A and resto FC-150 being shown off by Willys America.

This Just In
• More news is leaking about the redesign of the Wrangler for 2018. Automotive News uncovered a filing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles gave to the Securities and Exchange Commission that indicated that the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission will be used “in all of our rear-wheel-drive vehicles, except for heavy-duty versions of the Ram pickup truck and the SRT Viper.” The ZF transmission should help improve the Wrangler’s fuel economy, but are you ready for one more dial on the Wrangler’s dashboard?

• Our sister publication Motor Trend just finished its 2015 half-ton truck shootout and declared the Ram 1500 the winner over the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado. The test evaluated the trucks in several categories, including empirical performance (acceleration, braking, lateral grip), handling, towing, payload, and fuel economy. Each truck (all 4x4s) brought different motivation to the test: EcoDiesel V-6 in the Ram, 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 in the Ford, and 5.3L V-8 in the Chevy. The Ford was the quickest, the Ram was the most fuel efficient, and the Chevy was, well, the most expensive.

• Sheldon Creed notched his third victory of the season in the finale of the Speed Energy Formula Off-Road racing series, beating series owner Robby Gordon at the race in Las Vegas. The short-course racing series will begin its 2015 season at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, Australia, February 27 to March 1 and follows that with a full slate of races, with dates to be announced.

Earth Watch
• The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel was named 2015 Green Truck of the Year by the Green Car Journal. Competing against four other finalists—Chevy Colorado, Ford F-150, GMC Canyon, and Ram 1500 HFE—the EcoDiesel “exemplifies what a ‘green’ truck should be,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of the journal and CarsOfChange.com. “It’s a heavy-hitter that pulls off exceptional fuel economy with its impressive EcoDiesel engine and array of efficiency features like active grille shutters and aero suspension. Pickup buyers get the best of all worlds with the beefy torque and environmental performance offered by this fullsize pickup.”

• The North American XJ Association (NAXJA) donated $5,000 to the BlueRibbon Coalition at the recent North American Motorized Recreation Council meeting in Las Vegas to help BRC fight for land use issues. “Virtual clubs like NAXJA are a strong component of our off-road sports,” said John Parrinello, BRC President. “We can’t thank them enough for being on the land use team.” NAXJA may be Internet based, but it’s far more than just a forum, the BRC reports. NAXJA is about to enter its 16th year of incorporation, has several thousand users, and more than 800 paid members.

AEV Filson Edition Wrangler
Seattle-based outfitter Filson and American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) will partner on a limited-edition AEV Filson Edition Wrangler, marking the second year the two companies collaborated on a special Jeep. (Last year the pair teamed on a Filson Edition Brute double-cab.) The Filson Edition Wrangler is based on AEV’s JK350 package, which upfits the Jeep with a 31⁄2 -inch DualSport SC Suspension System, 35-inch BFG Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires on matte black Savegre wheels, a heat-reduction hood, and a premium front bumper. A Hemi transplant is available as an option.

EcoBoost = High MPG
Ford has been promising high fuel economy for the new 2.7L EcoBoost V-6 in the F-150, and the numbers are in: an EPA rating of 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined for 4x2 versions of the truck. That gives Ford bragging rights as having the gas-powered pickup with the best mileage. (EPA numbers for the 4x4, as reported by Motor Trend, are 18/23/20.) Ford is quick to point out that the new F-series isn’t just about fuel economy, as it has improved its tow and payload capacities as well.

• Mar. 5-7: Parker Jeep Jamboree, Parker, AZ.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Mar. 6: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Mar. 6-8: Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari, Ocotillo Wells SVRA near Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: tds4x4.com

• Mar. 8: Winching Clinic, by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Mar. 12-14: Mint 400 desert race by Best in the Desert, Las Vegas, NV.
Info: bitd.com

• Mar. 14: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Hungry Valley SVRA, Gorman, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Mar. 15: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Mojave, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Mar. 19-21: Texas Spur Jeep Jamboree, Llano, TX.
Info: jeepjamboreeusa.com

• Mar. 21: Getting Started Off-Road Driving Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Borrego Springs, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Mar. 22: Getting Started Rock Crawling Clinic by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Lucerne Valley, CA.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Mar. 28–Apr. 5: Easter Jeep Safari by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, Moab, UT.
Info: rr4w.com

• Mar. 30–Apr. 3: Easter Jeep Safari for First Timers by Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Moab, UT.
Info: 310.374.8047, 4x4training.com

• Note: If you have a 4WD event you want us to publicize, please send the date, location, a description of the event, and contact info—phone numbers and/or email/website address—to Calendar, 4-Wheel & Off-Road magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245; fax 818.566.8501; email 4wheel offroad@enthusiastnetwork.com. Please submit your info at least four months in advance of the event due to our press lead times.