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This winter was pretty interesting. For me it started at SEMA in October hiking the show and talking to vendors. As the 'Ode to a TJ' last issue indicated my rig of over 8 years came to an end with a blown up transmission and some frustration on my part, almost to the point of hanging up the 4x4 gig.
At the time of that transmission failure I had a turbo 4cyl Mustang in the driveway for a test week, the one pictured above – and was having a lot of fun with it and seriously considered buying one. It really is a cool car; if you get a chance take one for a rip it will surprise you!
Before I made that fatal decision. I made that trek to Las Vegas to sort a few things out walking thousands and thousands of steps remembering that I should not buy new shoes before SEMA but rather wear the ugly comfortable ones with the holes in them in the closet - oh how I forgot so quickly...
I can say I am glad I went. I had great talks will all those I have known for so long and caught up with many I have not seen if far to long. When you’re a magazine editor for so long it does cross your mind at times that maybe all these company owners and staff are just nice to you so you don’t write bad things about them and their companies. I can say that’s not the case and I’ve forged some great friendships all across the world (I had a great talk at a Warn event with a writer from Holland I have not seen it years).
What it really comes down to is they are all just gear heads who had an idea of their own at some point to make something better, faster, stronger or just plain fun and at some point, like most small companies, put their cash (probably all of it) and some they didn’t have (pretty much how I got into the magazine business) where their mouths and passion were and came up with something we all thought was cool, fast or strong to make our own rigs and cars that much better. We all actually agreed and bought what they came up with used it, abused it and everything really grew from there. Before I left for SEMA I had to return that Mustang and I came back pretty much invigorated to dive into this 4by4 project a little more fully.
At first that took a little bit of a different turn. In the past I always did the page layout but not the web design for any web sites I owned. In today’s day and age, that would not cut it so I enrolled in a BA program at BCIT (our top flight local Tech Institute) and became a student again for the first time in 30 years. Yes sometime later this year I will turn 50. Talk about a shock to the system. I wasn’t what you would call an attentive student way back in high school, many entrepreneurs rarely are, school is just to slow paced for our wandering brains. And before you ask, yes I’m the oldest person in the class – older than the prof – but it’s been pretty cool, I actually like homework!
So if you get a chance have a look at www.4by4tech.com our web site – that is my class project and what I’m about to get evaluated on in a couple weeks (well it will take place before you read this). My next course starts late April so you can only expect the site to get better with each class I take, you will be able to watch my class progression in real time!
So step one – learn more stuff. Step 2; how the heck am I going to fill over 400 pages of e-zine with content this year. That’s a lot of writing which, I am already good at unlike HTML, and I had no Jeep at this point either! No I did not buy that Mustang. Instead, I went to my favorite Jeep wrecker, Gary’s Auto Wrecking in Maple Ridge, BC. and bought a JK Unlimited frame, a window frame and a gas tank. I though well its time to step into the JK world – I seem to be always one Jeep model behind anyway so its only fitting I finally get one as the new model gets close - well parts of one anyway...
Then I talked a good friend who owns Aqualu Industries in Kelowna. He’s the guy who also put his money where his passion was back in the 80s and started building aluminum Land Cruiser bodies and now covers every model of Jeep and many cool custom bodies no manufacturer ever thought about building. I talked him into a project that got rave reviews at the Moab trade show this past spring which I’ve named a C-JK-8 which, pretty much brings us up to date.
Rather than a Mustang that was clean, brand new, didn’t need any work, was under warranty so someone else would have to fix it and all I had to do was drive it, I’m here in front of the computer writing 4x4 articles. When not writing I’m in the garage grinding, welding, cutting steel, modding every last little piece, while in a dust mask and ear plugs and I could not be any happier! Ah heck I’m not grown up enough yet to have a fast car anyway – all I’d do is get speeding tickets – I’ll have to wait till my 60s for that I guess!
So until then I’ll just keep on Wheeling which, was what my good friend Rick Pewe was writing on posters for the kids at Moab... with a big smile on his face and he is older than I am... I think. Wonder if he has a Mustang I can borrow on weekends...