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Beach Chief

Editor’s note: As the former Wrangler brand manager, Tyler Ruby knows better than most what it means to be a Jeeper. Although he is now senior director of OE and off-road at Webasto and brand director of Black Forest by Webasto, he still retains a love for the Jeep brand. We met up with Ruby at the 2017 Easter Jeep Safari, where he had just taken delivery of his brand new Jeep build.

Based off the Jeep Chief concept which debuted in 2015, Ruby’s build is a bright ocean blue vision in a sea of dusty trail rigs. Inside, tiki wood accents, Hawaiian print floral print seats, and vintage surf brand logos round out the beach wagon vibe.

It’s a little immature, but the playful and mischievous build harkens back to Ruby’s San Diego upbringing. Here’s what he had to say about his history with Jeep and his build.

 




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I’ve been wheeling since I was 9. I started on a Honda Odyssey — not the van, but the precursor to the modern Sand Rail buggy. It was rad: I would haul down the riverbed and jump the berms. When I turned 16, I bought a 1989 Nissan Hardbody pickup. I would find places to climb and explore.

I remember driving through an overgrown field in Southern California by my house and telling my friend in the passenger seat, “Watch for rocks!” Then, not even a minute later… BAM! I nailed a rock on my transmission. I looked over, then he paused and said, “Uh, rock?” We both laughed. I jumped that truck in the river bed, too, and on the way to school on backroads. It was a blast. I wish I still had it.

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I started with Jeep brand as the launch manager and launched the Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Renegade. Both were fun to work on and hold a special place in my heart. But as the Wrangler brand manager, I had some of the most memorable experiences and met some of my best friends. I miss a lot of that job. It really tugged at my heart strings to leave the coolest job in the building.

As the Wrangler brand manager, I worked on future programs and the Easter Jeep Safari concepts. The Jeep Chief was my favorite, and it reminds me of my Southern California upbringing.

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The Jeep Chief concept was wildly well-received, and after attending multiple events where people would swarm the vehicle, I knew we had to create a production version of the concept. Once the production Wrangler was planned, I knew I had to have one.

When it came time to build my own Chief, I wanted the build to be as true to the concept as possible. The Chief just reminds me of my childhood, going to the beach, hanging with my friends, and taking a drive just for fun. (Here’s a fun fact: the Chief’s blue paint is very close to the color of my first Nissan pickup.)

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The details were so important to this build: the interior wood accents and Hawaiian stickers, the exterior silver accents to tie together the white and blue, etc. As for tires, there was no other option than the KO2. I love that tire and this is my daily driver, which includes a 45-minute commute. The KO2 tire gives me the needed on-road manners and an aggressive tread to do everything I need off-road. For the bumpers, suspension, roof rack and other components, we went all in with Teraflex. The quality is excellent, the design is straightforward and clean, and nicely compliments the vehicle. Everything just works and looks good together.

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Adventure

Recap: Easter Jeep Safari 2017

If Jeeping is a religion, then Easter Jeep Safari in Moab is the promised land. Over the course of the week, this mecca of off-roading saw thousands of Jeeps — from daily drivers to dedicated rock crawlers — drive up and down Main Street on the way to Moab staples and the area’s plentiful trails.

BFGoodrich Tires was on-site, not just for the vendor show on Thursday and Friday, but as a working Garage in the parking lot of Grand Tire Pros from Monday until Friday. With tools to lend and space to work, we wanted to make sure anyone who broke could get back on the trails as soon as possible — without having to endure the struggles of working in a poorly lit hotel parking lot.

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Pit Crew member Charlene Bower also hosted the Ladies Off Road Social at the Garage on Tuesday. This celebration of women off-roaders saw tutorials in changing tires, winching with Warn Industries, using Hi-Lift jacks, and plenty of snacks. Bower also took this opportunity to announce the 2017 Ladies Offroad Challenge, where winners serve as Bower’s co-drivers at select off-road events.

And speaking of ladies who go off-roading, Jessi Combs — who recently finished 12th at the 2017 King of the Hammers — stopped by with her Savvy Off Road 4400 vehicle to answer questions and hang out.

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BFGoodrich Tires also sponsored trail rides — led by Pit Crew experts like Larry McRae, Lance Clifford, and John Williams — at Area BFE on Wednesday morning.

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A day of wheelin’ culminated in a dinner and raffle at Grandpa’s Garage, home of Moab legend Danny Grimes.

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Throughout the course of the week, BFGoodrich Tires also hosted Instagram overlander @395North. The adventurer, and budding off-roader was experiencing Easter Jeep Safari for the first time, and got a taste of what the close-knit Jeeping community has to offer.

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To download any of our photos from Easter Jeep Safari 2017, head over to this link.

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Build

Test of Time

When The Fast and the Furious movie franchise’s eighth installment comes out in 2017, it’ll have been 16 years since the first movie arrived on the scene, bringing with it a worldwide spotlight on the import and sport compact tuning scene. But even before The Fast and the Furious became a blockbuster Hollywood phenomenon, there were the real-life tuners and builders pushing the boundaries of what their vehicles could be — mechanically, aesthetically, and spiritually.

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James Lin, founder and president of Oxnard, CA, based Team Hybrid, was one of the pioneers of that movement. His love for building and automotive culture started innocently enough. Lin is the son of Taiwanese immigrants, and like many Asian children, he grew up with a certain set of expectations.

“It's part of our cultural background, to focus all on studying,” says Lin. “Growing up in Oxnard, CA, all we had to do was study. The only outlet we had was building cars.”

While this choice of extracurricular activity was perhaps a little more out-of-the-box than playing sports or musical instruments, it nevertheless was met with approval from Lin’s parents. “It was a great hobby because our parents could see that we were in the garage of the house. They could keep an eye on us. We weren't running around. We were wrenching. We were cleaning,” says Lin. “We were hanging out with our friends, but it was all at our house. How cool is that?”

“We came up with the name “Hybrid” because the people that were talking to me were white, and I'm Asian, and they had part swaps in their Civics. It was a mixture between species, car parts, ethnicities, ideas, and cultural backgrounds.”

Lin started out with a 1995 Acura Integra GSR. “My taste in cars has always been to keep it clean, keep it classic. That way, it withstands the test of time. How I modified that GSR, it caught the attention of people locally,” Lin recalls. “I started getting pulled over by random people, or they would roll down their window for a high five, or give me a thumbs up. Soon, any time I parked somewhere, someone wanted to talk to me.”

Although Lin was only 19 years old at the time, he clearly had an eye for what made a unique, beautiful, and successful build. In hindsight, perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but Lin was caught off guard by the people who wanted to follow his lead. “One day, a guy said, ‘Why don't you start a team? I'll follow you.’ I'm like, I don't need anyone to follow me. I'm good by myself.”

But once the idea surfaced, it became hard to ignore. “I saw the same people over and over, and I was like why not,” says Lin. “We're all friends.”

Those friends came together at Lin’s house on January 7, 1995. “We started brainstorming. It was just kids hanging out, talking ideas, and we came up with the name “Hybrid” because the people that were talking to me were white, and I'm Asian, and they had [parts] swaps in their Civics. It was a mixture between species, car parts, ethnicities, ideas, and cultural backgrounds. We looked up the word in the dictionary and no one was using it then, and that's how Team Hybrid started.”

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Just like his first Acura, Team Hybrid has withstood the test of time. This January, the team celebrated its 22nd anniversary. To date, Team Hybrid (and its growing number of chapters on the West and East coasts) have won over 4000 awards, and it seems every month comes with it new features in magazines or new additions to the trophy case.

That success hasn’t come without hard work. Team Hybrid has a distinct organizational structure that supports and sustains the team: Lin is the president, but he oversees a host of directors and managers for different chapters, logistics, and recruitment. But far from becoming a bureaucratic institution, Lin has instilled a family atmosphere into Hybrid.

“I have a close relationship from the top down. You’ve got to have those personal 1-on-1 relationships in the hobby, as well as everything outside of it. We've helped people when they lost a job — maybe we'll recommend them for a job in our company — or they're students, and they need help with certain subjects or topics. We're there for them as brothers and sisters.”

While the relationships extend beyond the automotive, building cars is what brings people to Team Hybrid in the first place. In that regard, the family closeness allows Hybrid and its members to maintain a reputation for quality. “We coach you through it. We talk about what worked and what didn’t, and maybe what you should do in the future.”

“A lot of people call me grandpa now,” Lin says of Hybrid’s new generations of members. “We're trying to pass on what we've learned, not only in life, but also how we build the next superstar in the scene.”

“My taste in cars has always been to keep it clean, keep it classic. That way, it withstands the test of time. ”

And as the Hybrid trophy case demonstrates, making superstars is almost second nature for Lin and his team. “We're not just a street-level team. We're race, street, and show, so we need a well-rounded build. The car can't just have wheels, a body kit, and paint. It has to have complete engine, interior, suspension, audio — whatever you can think of.”

Furthermore, the parts and execution matter. “It has to be authentic, the rarity of the part matters, and the execution of the customization. You can't just buy a nice part and maybe pick the wrong color or the wrong wheels to go with it. It all has to flow. It all has to make sense, like an art,” Lin elaborates. “It has to be everything, and it has to be the right formula, so we call it the Hybrid formula.”

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As for his own build, Lin moved on from his Acura to a 1996 BMW E36. The aesthetic philosophy remains the same, however. “It looks pretty OEM, but if you really pick it apart, it's actually one of the cars selected by a lot of import tuning companies to make parts for.” It goes without saying that the modifications are extensive — there’s a full spec sheet of parts on the Team Hybrid website — but some of the most important to Lin are the tires: BFGoodrich G-Force T/A KDWs (front: 215/35/ZR19; rear: 215/35/ZR19).

“You can have the best motor, best suspension, and best brakes, but without the control from good tires, it’s pointless and worthless. After being with BFGoodrich for 16 years, nothing else can hold a candle to them,” he says.

And after 22 award-winning years, multiple chapter expansions, and a new generation of members, it’s clear that no other car club can hold a candle to Team Hybrid.

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Adventure

Chasing Light

In December 2016, Eddy Gotink and five other irrepressible off-roaders made their way to North Cape, Norway. They drove, round-trip, over 7500km (over 4600 miles) via Copenhagen, Vaxjö, and downtown Stockholm to reach one of the northernmost points of Europe.

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When Gotink and his friends left the Netherlands, they were prepared for some enthralling days ahead under extreme conditions and in freezing temperatures. Some evenings, they had to build a fire to warm themselves up in the far North, and one day close to the Arctic Circle in Norway, Gotink and his friends built an igloo not far from the road. Though it took two and half hours to build and was not closed with a door or partition, it was certainly an inspiring natural experience.

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Besides the cold, the light was also something they needed to get used to, as above the Arctic Circle, daylight dropped to just 3 or 4 hours a day. “It was dark till about 10 am and around 1 pm it started getting dark again!” recalled Gotink.

During their trip, Gotink’s crew not only got the chance to discover the beautiful landscapes of the Nordic countries, they also encountered some very helpful and considerate locals. One night, when they were unable to access the Airbnb accommodation they had rented (due to snow), Gotink stopped a snowplow passing by and offered the driver a bottle of vodka in exchange for his services. The driver accepted and helped them home.

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Along the way to North Cape, the group made sure to partake in side adventures. In Arvidsjaur, Sweden, the group rented snowmobiles for a couple of hours to experience the beautiful landscape up close. Scooting through the snow while straddling a 600 cc, 2-cylinder, 2-stroke engine with a top speed of 140 kph on ice was a great opportunity for them to prove they were driver enough, but in a totally original way.

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At one point, two of the three cars got stranded in the deep snow. Gotink’s vehicle, fitted with BFGoodrich studded tires, ended up being the hero. With the help of the others who pushed the cars, they were able to get all the vehicles back on track as Gotink’s vehicle pulled the group out.

Driving on dark snowy roads, the group had to drive with their high beams turned on, and kept their eyes peeled. One time, they encountered another vehicle, also on high-beam. As both drivers slowed down and switched to low beam so as not to blind the other, they were suddenly plunged into total darkness! Out of nowhere, two reindeer appeared on the left side of the road with two more on the right. Just 5 feet from the cars, the reindeer stood motionless for a second or two. Afraid of hitting them, Eddy shouted "REINDEER!" to his partner in the car. But it was too late to stop. The driver veered away from the reindeers and they closed their eyes for a split second, feeling the tires getting a grip in the deeper snow… On opening their eyes, they realized they hadn't touched the animals. The reindeer crossed the road only once the group of vehicles drove on and were far enough away.

“Our friends behind told us that there were about 30 reindeer near the road but we only saw those four,” says Gotink.

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Ultimately, the group arrived in North Cape and capped off their journey by viewing the incredible Northern Lights. They made it home without any major mishaps, but with plenty of experiences to remember.

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Adventure

Trail Trials

Editor’s note: Victor Nguyen always dreamed of visiting the Grand Canyon on dirt. A few months ago, after four years of planning routes and ironing out dates, he and a group of fellow off-roaders finally made the journey, which consisted of 500 off-road miles through downed trees, ice and mud, rainstorms, sub-freezing temperatures, and multiple nights camping at some of the most remote points along the edge of the Grand Canyon. Was it worth it?




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I took this Grand Canyon trip with a group of about eight trucks. We’re a bunch of friends who share similar interests, mainly taking trips to remote areas and off-roading. We spent four years planning this Grand Canyon trip and spent the last few months leading up to the trip meticulously preparing our gear and trucks, keeping up-to-date on trail closures and weather forecasts, and ironing out last-minute camping sites and route changes. Our route would traverse the remote North Rim of the Grand Canyon, taking us on obscure dirt trails from the highest point in the Canyon to the lowest.

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A lot of people who saw our rigs collectively would probably have thought we were over-prepared, but all of our trucks are purpose-built and used. On my 4Runner specifically, I've used just about everything besides the spare parts I bring along, which I've accumulated based on things I've broken in the past. I have a front plate bumper for added security against rock and animal hits and to hold my winch, and a rear plate bumper for additional trail armor and to hold my extra fuel/water tanks. My roof top tent helps me set up camp very quickly. I can literally roll up to a campsite and open the tent and I'm set. (My sleeping bag, pillows, etc. stay inside.) The suspension has also been upgraded to handle the additional weight. 

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I'm running BFGoodrich T/A KO2s (LT285/70/17), and have been for the last 20K miles. In my experience, they've held up extremely well to the varying terrain both on this recent Grand Canyon trip and on previous trips. I've run them through the Mojave Desert, the Eastern Sierras, and now through the Grand Canyon, with countless miles of pavement in between. They've taken everything I could throw at them, and I fully expect them to last for quite some time.

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During the Grand Canyon trip, we completed 500 miles off road through downed trees, ice, and mud. We braved a hellish rainstorm and sub-freezing temperatures, and camped multiple nights at some of the most remote and obscure points along the edge of the Grand Canyon. As far as we know, no one has done the complete connecting trail on dirt between the points that we made it to, so for our knowledge of the trails, we relied solely on USGS maps and pieced-together GPS waypoints from others who had done partial trips in the area.

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Due to the bad trail conditions (slick trails, downed trees, etc.) and the bad weather, getting to camp every day before sunset was a challenge. Even though we camped on the edge of the rim at different points each night, we didn't catch a good glimpse of the canyon itself until the fourth day. Already tired of the constant trail running, waking up that morning was pretty hard. But we woke up to an incredible view of the morning sunlight filtering through the parting storm clouds and right through the windows of our tent. I'll never forget that moment. We had a front row seat to the world’s greatest view.

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Editor’s note: Victor and his friends are now in the planning stages of their next “epic” trip, which will either be a visit to the Yukon/Northwest Territories and past the Arctic Circle to see the auroras during the winter, or an exploration of some of the historical trails of the past: the Mormon/Emigrant Trail, Oregon Trail, Pony Express, etc. 

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Adventure

We're at Easter Jeep Safari

It's Monday. 

Normally, we might gripe and groan about it being the start of another work week, but today is no ordinary Monday, and this is no ordinary week. That's because this week is Easter Jeep Safari, and the BFGoodrich Tires Garage is in Moab.

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That means Easter Jeep Safari attendees can find tools, support, and a safe space to work on their rigs. Instead of haphazardly setting up shop in a parking lot, come to the Garage to do your own work. The Garage has a welder, other tools, and a mechanic for on-site advice, but the space is yours to use. 

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The BFGoodrich Tires Garage is located at Grand Tire Pros (312 N Main St, Moab, UT 84532), and will be open on Monday, April 10, through Thursday, April 13, from 7:30am to 8pm; and Friday, from 7:30am to 6pm.

Just bring your parts, your tool bag, and a willingness to get your hands dirty.

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Adventure

Nose for Adventure

Editor’s note: When Nate Day was growing up, his father was what you could call an armchair off-roader. He loved to read off-road magazines and show young Nate the adventures you could have with the right vehicle and the right location. But Nate wasn’t satisfied to live vicariously through the pages of a magazine. He wanted to experience the adventure himself. And now, along with his four sons, Nate is creating his own stories. And he’s finally gotten his dad in on the fun.




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When I was growing up, my dad was a construction worker in rainy Washington state. In his free time, he loved to flip through off-road magazines. He’d show me the pictures of these tough vehicles and say, “That will get you where you want to go right there.” He was fascinated by what was in those pages and he loved the idea of driving these vehicles that could conquer the environment. But back then, flipping through those magazines was the closest he got to off-roading.

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When I had kids, I knew I wanted to give them more than just a dream and conversation. I wanted to provide them with the ability to stock their minds with their own stories. They say the sense of smell packs the strongest memory. I wanted my kids to know the smell of sage growing forty miles from the pavement in the middle of the Grand Staircase Escalante of southern Utah; the sharp clean smell of the air surrounding the Rocky Mountains; and the odor of pine looking to the rim of Mt. St. Helens from the Tootle River.

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My 2014 Ford F-350 Crew Cab running BFGoodrich T/A KO2s has made these dreams a reality. And now my dad has a 2015 F-350. We’ve become a pair of explorers and have made every effort to change what was once a fantasy and, at our own pace, turn it into a working investment into memory. We drive for the scent. We drive for the feel of white desert sand giving way under our feet. For us, there is no single destination, just the experience. And there are oh so many experiences to be had. The American road, both paved and unpaved, holds so many forgotten treasures. Discovering them as a family is the true adventure.

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Adventure

On the Ground: Bruce and Pam Hunter

Editor's note: We talked with experienced and inexperienced off-roaders alike at the Texas Unlimited Off-Road Expo and Show after they experienced the BFGoodrich obstacle course on KO2s. Here's what Bruce & Pam Hunter, who own DFW Camper Corral, a truck parts and accessories store, had to say about the experience.

 




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Bruce: We own a truck parts and accessories store, so we’re out here testing off-road vehicles and seeing if it’s a market we want to get into.

I’ve never experienced anything like the course before…

Pam: He was acting like a little kid in there. It was lots of fun, safe…it felt like that vehicle could handle what it was supposed to do, and we never thought twice about it.

B: I’m familiar with BFGoodrich tires. I put ‘em on all my four-wheel-drive vehicles. I know the mileage rating on them when I was running the full-time on the highway, I’d get 60 to 70 thousand miles on them.

P: I think it was great how the vehicle made it up over the rocks and the terrain without any slipping. It handled well going up the hill and down the side.

B: With the Dallas-Fort Worth market, I think people are looking for more of a hybrid tire that you can take on the street each day and still get the traction and the wear and tear you need off-road.

P: I think they’re looking for fun and adventure, a little excitement, a little spice.

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