By Cole Quinell
4WHEEL & OFF-ROAD, July 1998, Pg.7
I don't care what anyone says, vehicles are addicting. Most households need only one per licensed driver, but not enthusiasts. We need a minimum of three per person: one that you truly drive every day, one just in case the first one breaks, and another that's never actually driveable. That will get you started as an off-road nut, but the 4x4 population will soon grow with your enthusiasm. Eventually, you'll run across something that you just have to have, or more likely, you'll do this every six months. There's buying half finished projects from your friends, finding screaming deals that are too good to pass up, and running across the one you always wanted. That last one is the worst because it's never in good condition and usually ends up as the vehicle that's never actually driveable.
The editorial staff of this magazine definitely suffers enthusiastically from this disease. We have more vehicles than some used-car lots. At the time this went to press, we owned 23 vehicles between five people. That includes a Cadillac (bought for the engine only), Chevys, Fords, a GMC, Jeeps, a Mitsubishi, a Toyota, a Volvo, and a VW.
There are several side effects from having so many vehicles. For example, there hasn't been a day in months when I didn't have to move at least three vehicles in my driveway to get to my garage. Also, I live in a typical suburban community, so the dead vehicle in my driveway and the other one curbside don't go over too well with the neighbors. They're greatly amused, however, when I bring home another one. Another one? What are you going to build this one into? At least its still amusement instead of just plain frustration. I placed a "For Sale" sign on my Ford F-250 recently and one of my neighbors asked why I was selling off part of the fleet.
Another drawback is having to keep up with maintenance. I'm not as bad as a friend of mine who owns one battery that he moves from vehicle to vehicle as he needs to drive them. That makes the move-three-out-of-the-way-to-get-into-the-garage thing even more of a hassle. I've had instances where the truck that I was planning on taking to work refused to start, jumped into another only to have it refuse me, and then had to perform repairs to a third before I could start my morning commute. Pitiful.
Then there are the DMV fees. I practically write a check to the DMV monthly to keep my vehicles registered, and I certainly feel that I should receive a Christmas card for my annual contributions. I'm familiar with every piece of paper work that California DMV has dreamed up, and the lady at AAA who helps me register my vehicles recognizes me on sight.
The positive result of this is that we can easily do articles on the types of 4x4s you build because we own examples of most of them ourselves. The one make we're short on is Dodge, but we've made good use of a '97 Ram we have on loan from Chrysler, freelancer Ed Fortson owns a dozen of them, and David Freiburger is never far away.
So this weekend when you're trudging around the yard moving on vehicle after another to get to that 4x4 in the garage that will never run, just know that you're not alone.