Thoughts of: Faded passion

My latest issue of Four Wheeler came in the mail two days ago. (Not the issue pictured) I was genuinely excited to see it.  It sits next to my computer as I type this with over 95% of it unread.

There’s just nothing in it that interests me.  There should be.  In fact, I should’ve devoured this magazine the moment I got it because the main subject and supporting subjects are for full size trucks.

As an owner of a Chevy Silverado Z-71, I should be all over it.  But there it sits as I eye it with dispassion.

Dispassion is the defining point.  For roughly the last 6 or more issues, I have had less and less passion for this magazine.

That wasn’t always the case.

I started reading Four Wheeler when I was in seventh grade.  Back then I didn’t buy the magazine or subscribe.  My friend’s older brother had a subscription and I would just read his.  It was a great supplement to my auto enthusiast reading.

I read Car and Driver, Auto Week, Automobile, and Road and Track every day at school instead of eating lunch.  It was quieter and more nutritional.  With these magazines, I learned about 0 to 60 times, Lateral Gs, stopping distances, slalom times, and new mechanical technologies.  If you wanted to go fast on the track or on a deserted stretch of winding road, these were the rags to read.

Four Wheeler introduced me to the other side of the coin.  Technical four wheel driving.  Here you didn’t drive fast to reach the ragged edge, here you had to drive slow.  There were similarities to the driving styles.  In both racing and four wheeling there is a “line” you need to follow for maximum control, get loose and wrecking your vehicle is the least of your worries.  Control is everything.  Concentrate and observe.  Great lessons for any driver.

To be Honest, I might not have gotten hooked into the world of four wheeling if it hadn’t been for Car and Driver’s article about the Rubicon Run and the TV show, Simon and Simon.

But as exciting as it was to read about the racing or rock crawling, the stories that always got my attention were the adventures.  From driving out west in a modified Four Taurus station wagon (aka the Billy Wagon) to running the Al-Can Highway with a can of dog food for emergencies to traveling to Brazil in a pickup, the stories of high adventure showed me a world that I could dive deep into.  All it would take is a capable vehicle and money for gas.  My own personal USS Enterprise to explore strange and unknown places.  And that’s just Toledo.  Who knows what else it out there.

I wanted to see everything and I soon realized my options would be greater if I owned a truck.  A four wheel drive truck.

That’s what hooked me.

Four Wheeler did a lot to feed my addiction.  At the time Four Wheeler always had a story about exploration in another country, sometimes a second travel story as well.  All the technical mechanics stories were there to create a stronger vehicle for the adventure ahead.  The adventure was the main focus.  At least in my mind.

These last six issues have had little or no stories of exploration.  No high adventure to open the mind and get the imagination flowing.  No “What if?” or “I could be there!”  It’s all about the sport now.   Heavily modified, purpose built vehicles, designed and built for one objective.  They might as well be indy cars. I still enjoy the occasional race, but for the most part, I just don’t get into it anymore.  About the only motor sport I pay any attention to anymore is American LeMans series.  In these races you have three separate classes of cars on the same track at the same time running at different speeds.  At least there’s some realism there.  I can relate to that.  It’s like going down the freeway and trying to pass that Geo Metro that’s blocking the road.  These extreme four wheel drive rigs just don’t work for me.  I don’t care that you’ve got 42 inch tires and can fit over that boulder in the middle of the trail.  A regular person would just go around it or put dirt in front and behind it so as to get over the thing without damaging their ride.

I want to see the beautiful vistas and glorious natural skylines at the end of the two track, not another bunch of pictures of tube buggies hung up on rocks or rigs stuck in a pit of mud.  Get to the good stuff!

I guess I shouldn’t be too hard.  John Cappa is working hard to make Four Wheeler the best he knows how.  He came into the business through of road racing and challenges like Four Wheeler’s Top Truck Challenge.  It’s what he knows and is used to.  He also replaced an Editor in Chief who boasted of his liking to fire people and penchant for hiding out during big off-roading events that brought big names and products from manufacturers out to play.

That guy didn’t have the passion.  He liked writing and had a decent concept, but his heart wasn’t in it.

Cappa’s got his heart in it.  It’s just that his focus of passion is not what mine is.  So three months from now I will let my subscription end and end this era in my life.  From 1983 to 2012 I’ve read or owned Four Wheeler magazine.  For the most part, I’ve enjoyed it.  It was a fun ride.  It’s just not what I’m looking for anymore.

Good Luck to you guys.  I hope it works out.  Until then, I’ll be scouting around for another magazine to grab my attention and feed my passion.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts of: Faded passion

  1. I’ve never rock crawled or anything, but I did stick one on the frame while hitting a mudhole behind the sand dunes on the beach where we were four-wheelin’. My cousin eventually got me out–guess that means I wasn’t completely on the frame, but I felt pretty bad-a*&ed driving my little Jimmy home wrapped in mud.

  2. I do recall an event from the mid-1960’s. My best friend and I were just getting interested in Road Rallying. One night after working at a restaurant, I drove around a discovered a road that led into a swamp and then came out the other side. Being fearless and confident of my ride, I plunged right in at about 5 mph. My vehicle slipped and slid around a bit, but I made it through. This I repeated for several nights, then I brought my friend along. We made it about halfway through and then the engine got hung up on an old tree stump. We trudged through the mud and muck to the nearest house which was about 3/4 of a mile away. The woman of the house kindly called the AAA road service for me and we waited. The truck showed up, sized up the situation and disappeared in a flash. Another call brought out a super heavy wrecker. We helped carry the tow line to my vehicle, fixed it firmly and popped right out of the mess. It took half of the next day to scrape and hose the mud off of the undercarriage. But that night, I soloed through without problem once again. The vehicle? A 1962 Corvair 700 with a manual transmission. A 4 wheel drive truck? Add on a winch with plenty of cable and skidplates, and I’ll tag along almost anywhere. BTW, the mag that kindled my interest in road rallying was called Sports Car Graphic.

  3. The Corvair’s secrets were rather simple. It’s under-carriage was mostly smooth and flat. Also it’s engine was an opposed cylinders model instead of the V of an 8 or the Straight of a 6. This gave it too a near smooth surface filling the engine compartment. And with the engine directly over the rear wheels, it had maximum traction.

  4. Your insight to the passions being different is a really wise, and key thing to notice. It’s why I like Dirt Rag more than any other bicycling magazine. Editorial and layout changes can have an impact, too. Over the past 15-20 years my opinion of the best car magazine has constantly shifted from Road & Track (my first) to Motor Trend, Car & Driver, etc… (And occasionally Car Kulture DeLuxe, but NEVER Hot Rod.)

    And LeMans is AWESOME! I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but the multiclass races like that are my favorite events in Forza Motorsport- the simulator I use to justify my Xbox and HDTV. LOL.

  5. Wow! Thanks for the mention. Very well written adult explanation of your experience. Generally, readers in your shoes would quickly resort to name calling. Anyway, creating a magazine is always a tough job. You can never make all of the people happy 100-percent of the time. My first few years as a staffer on 4-Wheel & Off-Road and then as an editor of Jp in the early 2000s taught me that, the hard way. I struggled with it for a while. Eventually, I learned that each magazine took on the life and interests of the editor, and that was OK. By the time I became editor of Four Wheeler I had fully embraced this. It’s also well known that most magazines have a 100-percent reader turnover rate every 2 years. Clearly, you were a hold out. Anyway, thanks for giving me at least a few months. I’m no longer the editor, but I still contribute to Four Wheeler as well other titles and websites, and I like it that way. Took me long enough to respond huh? -Thanks for reading!

    • Thank you for responding! This is an unexpected surprise. I never thought an editor would read my article, let alone respond to it. How did you even find it?

      I completely agree with your assessment of content creation, style, and magazine direction. It has been and will always be heavily influenced by the person doing the grunt work of creating. Our personality always comes out in the finished product.

      I never knew that magazines have a 100% reader turnover every two years. Maybe that’s why they are affected more by the internet than other publications. A paper magazine can never achieve the level of rapid fire news updates and at the moment photos that the internet can, but what the magazines can do is create an emotional bond between the reader and the writers. Writers that can tell stories and feed the imagination stay with you forever. I will always remember people like Gary Wescott, Granville King, Sean Holman, Rick Pewe, Peter Egan, Patrick Beddard, and Satch Carlson among others. Their stories stay with me through the years. Believe it or not, your did too, Out of my collection of old Four Wheeler magazines, I only kept four and the October 2012 edition is one of them. I chose it for your article “Hi Tech or Redneck? – Enjoy camping on any budget.” It frustrated the hell out of me, yet it rang so true with it’s honesty. I remember you getting a lot of static for that issue, but you were honest about yourself to us and that is always the highest compliment a reader can get.

      Thank you.

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