Ford Pickup Loyalty, ’55 Chevy Truck Project, Prototype Trailer, and More
Four Wheeler readers share their thoughts and projects.
I had a light blue '92, regular cab, shortbed, Styleside 4x4. I lifted it a bit, and it ran amazing. I wish I still had it. The 300 had tons of torque. Not fast, but I'm a truck guy not a car guy. I now own an '04 F-150. It has the 5.4, and it's way faster, but again I don't need much fast. I'm a believer that the four-door truck is an engineering marvel. Ford all day every day!
Reading Firing Order (Oct. '19) about the straight-six really brought back memories for me in my teens. Grandpa was the second (first ever 4WD for him) owner of a '70 Jeep Gladiator with the 232 I-6 and a three-speed transmission. As you described, it was used as a tool and on many a hunting adventure in the sugar cane fields of Hawaii. With the Quadratrac four-wheel-drive system, it went everywhere we intended and many places we probably shouldn't have. With the recent popularity of the newly released Gladiator and your article I felt compelled to send you a note and say "Aloha!" from Hawaii.
V-6 Over V-8 Any Day
I've owned a few trucks and muscle cars since getting my license at 16. I'm 57 now and care more about flawless operation and comfort than how fast my vehicles go, but power is always nice to have. Just the other day my wife and I were driving the interstate (219 in Pennsylvania between J-Town, short for Johnstown and Ebensburg). It's a stretch of highway with trees on both sides and between the two lanes on each side. We came up on three trucks, all pulling travel trailers about 30 feet in length. As we went by the first truck, the next one in line pulled into my lane to pass the lead truck. Of course, I had to slow down to let this unfold. At first, we were on flat ground, with the truck on the left (in front of me) gradually overtaking the truck on the right. Then things got interesting. The grade began to incline, and the trucks started to slow down. At this point they were about even with each other. Both trucks suddenly hit the gas, the one on the right obviously didn't want to be passed by the one on the left. Maybe they were together and it was some kind of competition thing? I could tell they hit the gas by the large plumes of diesel smoke coming from both. What was interesting to me was that both rigs looked to be struggling while pulling basic travel trailers uphill, and it wasn't that steep of a grade. Eventually the one in my lane passed the other and moved over to let me by. That got me thinking about your article (Firing Order, Oct. '19) and the truck I currently own, a '19 Ford Raptor. A truck with a seriously vested interest in appealing to the performance crowd, and one whose design team has taken a huge leap of faith (or just didn't think it all the way through) when ditching the V-8 for a V-6. I just gave it away, huh? Not really.
My previous truck was a '15 Ford King Ranch with a Coyote V-8 5.0L, 3.73 gearing, six-speed tranny, and most of the bells and whistles including a tow package. It had a little under 400 hp and somewhere around that in torque. I thought it had plenty of power for whatever I wanted to do, except I noticed that going uphill it didn't seem to pull like I thought it should, trailer or no trailer. No problem, just give it more throttle, right? Then I got up the nerve to spend some money (or just lost my mind) and get my dream truck, the Raptor. The only bummer, I thought, is it's got this half-pint V-6. What happened to the 6.2L monster V-8? And this engine is dressed up with a turbocharger and 10-speed tranny?
Anyway, I shopped for about eight months looking for the right one. The truck is nicely outfitted—sunroof, B&O sound, heated and cooled everything, 360-degree camera (a must-have), Recaro seats, carbon graphite everywhere, 4.10 gearing, beadlocks, and a tow package. I took a leap and put faith in the turbo V-6, and here's why: My wife has a four-cylinder turbocharged Audi A4, and it moves, so I thought, why not? The more I drive the Raptor, the more I like it, other than the sound coming from the exhaust, which sounds kinda like a hopped-up sewing machine. I've decided I'll spend some money trying to remedy that because this thing has power! I've put about 10,000 miles on it (a round trip from Pennsylvania to California will do that), and the engine seems to get stronger the more I drive it. Going up hills isn't an issue anymore—I barely touch the gas and it goes, and I'm appetent to tow something now. This thing runs circles around my old truck (with a V-8), and it does so without hesitation. It's smooth, it's effortless, and it feels like it's been finely tuned. The engine itself sounds better, tighter, and smoother, and I would imagine there is some kind of weight advantage to the V-6.
There are two things I like a lot better with the V-8, and one is the exhaust sound. Hands down the V-8 wins, and then there is the holeshot, for lack of a better term. From a standing start, the V-8 has the edge for 2-3 seconds, after that it's the V-6 all the way. Honestly there's no comparison between the power of this little V-6 and the V-8, and I'll take the V-6 over the V-8 any day. The picture is of my Raptor.
Haven't Bought a Bow Tie Hat Yet
I've been a longtime subscriber of both of the best mags now merged into one! I enjoy reading "From the Backcountry" over the years. Has there been a compilation of the series done? On these cold nights, it's nice to pull an old mag to read again. I'm excited and curious to see how the combination of my two only subscriptions (since 2003) are handled now.
Here's my list of rigs since 1980: Three CJ-7s, 11 F-150 SuperCabs including two '15s, a Bronco and a Bronco II, a Tacoma, and now a Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Crew Cab with the longbed, which has impressed me. I think it's probably one of the sleepers in the 4x4 and off-road world! I'll confess that I have not bought a Bow Tie hat yet since the Blue Oval was my truck for years! My wife has driven the Explorer since its release in 1991. She just changed recently to a '19 Ford Edge Titanium, and we're going to see how it performs on the beach and on the trail as well. Thanks for your time and the hole in my wallet. I do buy upgrades on all of my rides from the articles and featured products!
I am sending you these pictures of our company prototype trailer. Myself, together with the company I work for, Continental Engineering Services, have taken this 10,000-pound car hauler trailer and converted it with two 7,200-pound axles to 8-lug and hydraulic disc brakes. The reason behind this is our prototype ABS and trailer sway control system that this trailer has installed. It works remarkably well. I even drove it in a snowstorm on Vail Pass in Colorado, and we have performed winter testing on our test track on snow and ice. When not used to develop this brake system, the trailer is used to haul other cars and side-by-sides around Michigan between the Auburn Hills office and the Brimley test track. The tow vehicle in these pictures is my personal Ram 3500 Laramie CTD with a G56 six-speed manual. It has a full AEV Prospector package. The pictures were from the round trip I did in May 2019 from Maine to Michigan to Overland Expo West in Arizona and back.
Chevy Pickup Project
Thought I would send you some pics of my '55 4x4 project. Started as a 1-ton appliance delivery truck. I shortened the frame, added later 1/2-ton axles, LT1 engine, an NV4500 transmission, and more. Before and after shots are included!