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Adventure

Trail Therapy

Editor’s note: When Brian Lucero lost his job, he hooked his Jeep to his truck and headed for the hills. The adventure took him to some of the most exciting trails in the Southwest. It was a trip meant to distract Brian and his wife from his employment situation. And it ended on a very happy note.

 




My wife and I are from Albuquerque, NM, and have always been outdoors enthusiasts. When we moved to Houston, TX, for work, we've left the mountains and desert behind, and we missed them terribly. Then, in mid-September 2016, I was laid off due to the downturn in the oil industry. Rather than sit around the house dwelling on our situation, we hooked our toy hauler to our truck, loaded the Jeep, and hit the road.

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Two days later, we were in Albuquerque, where we spent the afternoon visiting friends and family and outfitting ourselves for the trip ahead. The next morning, we headed for Crested Butte, CO, and Schofield Pass. The pass is generally regarded as one of the most challenging and dangerous trails in the state, and it has always been a bucket list trail for me. We spent two nights and one full day in the area, running the trail twice in that time. Overnight lows were in the 20s! Thank goodness for the heater in the toy hauler.

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We then headed down to Silverton, CO, where we ran Blackbear Pass, Ophir Pass, and the trail to Clear Lake. After two days and three nights, weather pushed us out of the high country, so we decided to go to the next logical destination: Moab! We had been to Moab earlier in the year, so we decided to take it easy. My wife and I had always wanted to see the Shafer Switchbacks where Potash Road climbs into Canyonlands National Park, so the day after arriving in Moab, that's where we went. What a phenomenal drive!

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We spent one more night in Moab before heading down to Blanding, Utah. Several years earlier, our attempt to run the Hotel Rock trail near Comb Ridge had failed, so I was determined to find it and run it this time. We're so glad we did! Isolated country, Anasazi ruins, beauty, and solitude!

Despite the job situation, we felt completely at peace. We then drove the Comb Ridge trail on our way back to camp in Blanding. The next morning we made the short hike to the House on Fire Anasazi ruin, then drove down to Monument Valley, AZ.

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By this time, we felt like we should start making our way back to Houston, but we ended-up spending a week with family in Albuquerque, doing maintenance and repair on the Jeep. While there, I received a call from a recruiter, which resulted in the job I now hold!

 

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Build

Time Machine

Editor’s note: Tommy Thu has had his 1967 Ford Mustang fastback ever since he was 11. Back then, it was just a parts car. Over the years — and along with over 40 other car builds — Thu and his father have restored this dark green ‘Stang and built it into unique iterations of the same vehicle. Now, Thu is preparing to unveil the latest evolution: a fully custom, one-of-a-kind build.

 




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My dad was always a car nut, and when I was 11, he bought a 1967 Mustang convertible that needed a restoration. We were at an A & W Cruise-In night in the summer of ’97, and a good friend of ours told us about a "parts car" ‘67 fastback for sale. My dad and I decided to go look at it, and once I saw it, I fell in love with the car. I could already envision it as my car, exactly how it would be built. My dad told me if I sold my dirt bike (which I was terrible on), I could buy the fastback and he would help me restore it for when I got my license at 16.

He and I ended up restoring it together, and I was hooked! This car would serve as a stepping stone to some 40-plus restorations on 1967-1970 Mustangs and Shelbys, including concourse restorations of two Shelby convertibles, two Boss 429 Mustangs, a factory-ordered drag car, a Boss 302, and even a 1969 Cougar XR7 428 Cobra Jet 4-speed convertible.

“I love that my car is just that... my car. I've spent the last 20 years working on this car with my dad and making it my own. As I grew up and matured, so did the car.”

I really like the styling of the ‘67 Mustang, and I liked how the deluxe interior option had the brushed aluminum at the time. Some 30 years later, cars were still using this type of finish in the interior. The classic fastback design looked sleek and sporty to me, and I knew it would be a car that we could restore and make my own. I also really liked the factory dark moss green color.

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I love that my car is just that... my car. I've spent the last 20 years working on this car with my dad and making it my own. As I grew up and matured, so did the car. It went from a bone stock build, to a bit quicker with a stroker motor, to a lot quicker with a crate engine stroker, and now to a top notch, one-off custom. My car always rode on BFGoodrich tires, and it was never a fluke. First, I had Radial T/As to suit the classic bone stock restoration. Then, I had g-Force Sports as the car's suspension was improved a bit. Then, we used KDWs as the Corvette suspension and 4-link were installed. Soon, I’ll be upgrading to BFGoodrich Rival S tires. In my opinion, they are the most advanced street legal tire, and they’ll only help showcase all the suspension and drivetrain work I’ve done to the car.

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I love driving my car on the open road. It truly is a touring car, but it also has crazy straight line performance. The new suspension setup, along with big wheels and tires, massive brakes, and an extremely reliable and powerful drivetrain setup make it a blast to drive. The car has the looks of a old car, but the performance is better than today's muscle machines.

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This car is a major part of my life. It's the first of the 40-plus cars my dad and I have built together over the last 25 years. It has been in two magazines: Mustang and Fords (Nov 2004) and Car Craft magazine (Sept 2009). In 2009, I went to SEMA, met the Ring brothers, spent about 30 minutes with Jim Ring, and soon had the idea I wanted to build a one-off custom of my own. About 8 years later, it's almost finished, and I’ll be debuting it at the Columbus Goodguys show in 2018 — hopefully to compete for Street Machine of the Year!

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To follow Tommy's build, visit his Instagram (@tommyamgtt2).
Photography by Andrew Ritchie (@ridic_u_loose).
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Build

Boldly Go

Editor’s note: Scott Parker and his wife chose their BOLD Overland family and their 4Runner because they wanted to experience the world off the beaten path. Their BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2s have been a huge part of that journey.

 




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I have always had an interest in cars and off-roading and adventure, but now, I have the ability to combine them. I belong to a group called BOLD Overland, which is an adventure travel team based in east Tennessee. We use our vehicles to reconnect with the world: we get out and explore what this great nation has to offer and meet new people. 

My choice of 2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited was inspired by a few things. I knew that Toyotas are good solid vehicles, even stock. I also wanted something that would appeal not only to me, but my wife as well. We settled on the Limited 4Runner as a compromise. I wanted the TRD PRO 4Runner, but she wanted something with a 3rd row. She won.

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The main thing I love about our vehicle is that it is strong and reliable. Toyota makes a great product, and there are lots of aftermarket options available. We use our vehicle for all types of activities. The BOLD Overland team only runs BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A  KO2s, and they are instrumental in getting us to less visited places. We were looking for a very reliable and durable tire that we could drive long distances on the highway, and then still be extremely capable in off-road situations. These tires have seen everything from snow, sand, mud and hard rock and they still keep going. Picking a tire that would perform in all conditions has been essential for our success.

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We have traveled all over the country in our 4Runner. We love driving in out West the most. I would say northern New Mexico or Colorado would be our favorite destinations. The open sky and beautiful scenery is amazing. 

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Adventure

Raptor Run

Editor’s note: For his first off-road event, Nick Merlino sure picked a good one. The Ford F-150 Raptor owner traveled over a thousand miles to get to the Texas Raptor Run.

 




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My adventure took me from New Jersey to Blackwell, Texas, to the Texas Raptor Run event. It was my first off-road event, and I traveled over 1500 miles to Texas to get there with my Ford Raptor. The event consists of a 38-mile off-road course with varying terrain, from mud to rocks to gravel. At the event, I met many awesome people and had a great time.

Earlier this year, I purchased a set of 35" BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires, which have proven to be great all around tires. I have had them in deep snow, heavy rain, and muddy and rocky terrain, and they have always managed to get me through everything. I made the full 3000+ mile trip on the tires and they did great! The tires held up incredibly well throughout the trip and the trails, and they didn’t let me down or chunk at all! I will be a repeat customer.

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Adventure

Cross Country Raptor

Editor’s note: Aramázd Fidanián’s 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is just the latest vehicle in a personal collection that includes several Porsches and a Rolls Royce. However, that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the beastly truck. In fact, the California resident flew out to Arkansas to pick up his Raptor and drove back in one marathon road trip.

 




I used to have a 1988 Toyota Land Cruiser that I had fully built to handle tough terrain, and I put a 6.0L Chevy V8 in her to make sure she’d never die while doing it. However, I ended up getting tired of rock crawling. I like to go fast and get my blood flowing. That's when I started seeing the new 2017 Raptors being advertised. I was immediately hooked because the Gen1 Raptor was already something I liked, but this new Gen2 was more beautiful, more capable, and just all around better.

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I listed my Cruiser for sale, and once it finally sold, I started looking into options for the Gen2 Raptor. I called a few dealers in California and Arizona, but I realized that some of them were taking advantage of consumers with ridiculous $20k - $30k markups. I was not about to pay $100k for a truck. But my wife, Tara, gave me the BRILLIANT idea to contact my business connections in Arkansas in order to see what we could work out. (I have an insurance agency, and we work with a big general agency out there.)

I immediately called them and spoke to the owner of Smith Ford in Conway, AR. It turned out that the owner’s son was a friend of mine, so my foot was already in the door. I asked him what Raptors, if any, they were getting. He told me there was a fully loaded one in Avalanche Grey arriving in about a month. I lost my mind from excitement! I asked him to save her for me and he did. I booked my one-way flight with my wife, and we flew out there to take care of some business / pick up the car a month later.

When we arrived at the dealer, I was honestly BLOWN away. The truck's color in person is unreal. Then, I realized the massive stance of this beast. It was HUGE. Coming from a narrow older rock crawler, this was a HUGE change, but a good one. I immediately fell in love and couldn't believe that my dream of having this truck finally was coming to fruition. I jumped in and saw how happy my wife was along with me, and it all just made sense. This was our baby.

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After we spent some time with colleagues and friends in Arkansas, we decided to start the trek home. We left at 9pm Arkansas time (7pm CA time) and were on a mission. We were so excited and the truck was so pleasant to drive that we wanted to drive it back in one shot!

It was dark when we left, so we flew through Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, but the sunrise in Texas was a truly magical one. It was one that I felt like I had not seen before, but it could have been the fact that my wife and I had not slept for nearly 24 hours. We enjoyed the full sunrise and continued on to New Mexico for a gas stop.

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This time, my wife wanted to drive, so she took the wheel. She enjoyed driving it for a couple hours, but I was so excited, I asked to switch back after our next bathroom break. We entered Arizona and started the big climb up to Flagstaff. It was a cool experience approaching and driving through Flagstaff because we got to see a bunch of snow all around us.

Being on the mission that we were on, we didn't stop for pictures. At this point, we had been up for over 30 hours, but we knew we were only about 6 hours from home. Right then, my wife and I looked at each other. We were AMAZED how comfortable the truck is. In fact, it was so comfortable that we didn't even feel the fatigue from driving all that distance. My wife and I go on a ton of camping trips and like to travel a lot, so it was reassuring knowing that we made the right choice for long distance comfort.

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After a few hours, we entered California from Arizona and stopped to take a picture in front of the "Welcome to California" sign with the new truck. Excited to be close to home, we continued on but were met by some horrible traffic on I-210 West. At this point, we were zombies. We finally got home after 23 hours of driving and 37 hours of being awake. It was unbelievable. After 1,700 miles of driving, the truck still looked clean, and we were still so excited that we couldn’t sleep.

Ever since I got this truck, I have gone off-roading, on average, once a month, and will continue to do so. We have a few camping trips planned, and I look forward to a long and happy life of adventures with my 2017 Raptor.

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Adventure

Gift Horse

Editor’s note: Devon Pruzan’s Toyota FJ Cruiser was his first off-road vehicle, and lucky for him, it came with BFGoodrich KO2s.

 




I purchased the FJ Cruiser as my first off-road vehicle in August of 2016. It was fully stock, but with a set of 5 BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires on it. It wasn't until after I labored for a good two days in the driveway with my stepfather installing the 3" Old Man Emu ARB lift kit that I dared to attempt my first off-road adventure.

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I made friends with a group of off-roaders who worked for my local Toyota dealership, and we went to a trail in Harrisonburg, Virginia, called Flagpole. It was an overcast, rainy day, but that didn't quell my excitement in the slightest.

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Despite the wet rocks, mud, and dirt, my tires didn't slip once! Going up steep inclines and down slippery slopes, I had fantastic traction. I have every intention of replacing my current BFGoodrich All-Terrains with another set when they wear out. The most memorable part of my adventure would be the friends I made. I've since gone trail riding with them multiple times — still on the same tires.

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Build

Trail Trooper

Editor's note: The Isuzu Trooper might not have the popularity of other off-road vehicles, but for Anthony Rivas, it was just the right kind of different. An off-roader and rock crawler since his teen years in Colorado, he'd driven his share of Toyotas and Jeeps. When he began looking for his next vehicle, he settled on this 2001 Trooper as a rugged, reliable daily driver with plenty of its own tradition.






I drive a 2001 Isuzu Trooper 4WD 3.5L V6. I found this one-owner car used from Arizona with 80,000 miles on it. I purchased it June of 2016, and it has changed a lot in a year’s time. I currently have 109,567 miles on it, and believe it or not, a lot of those miles are off-road.

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I was looking for a good all-around vehicle for my family, work, and all weather conditions. We travel to Colorado and Utah yearly. I was also looking into the overland scene, and I noticed Isuzu Troopers were being built up in Australia as the Holden Jackaroo; in Asia as the Big Horn; and also as Arctic trucks. 

(A cool fact about the Trooper is in 1993 it took 1st and 2nd in the Australian Safari. In 1994, a Trooper won the Marathon Class Victory at the Paris-Dakar Rally. It's not a ‘94 and I am not participating in Dakar, but I tracked down an original badge from the factory for my Trooper.)

After more research, I learned TOD (Torque on Demand) models came with a limited slip differential and a dual-rate transfer case. With those features and a curb weight of 4600 pounds, I figured it would be sure-footed. The one I found was bone stock, it seemed to fit the bill, and at $3500, it was hard to say no.

I have run Toyotas most of my life, and even a few Jeeps. Those builds seem to be the most common now, and I thought it would be cool to do something a little different that wouldn't break the bank. This is my daily driver, my office, and my family's weekend adventure vehicle. I am loving the off-road capability and versatility of this rig. My work has me off the pavement 4-5 days a week, also at events like King of the Hammers. Hauling gear, people or both, it serves me well.

I am Colorado born and raised, so I have been into rock crawling and off-roading since I was 16. My first car was a used 1983 Toyota SR5 4WD truck, and after some time I was able to build it up. It was completed with some 33x12.50R15 BFGoodrich Mud Terrains. They proved themselves in the Colorado mud, snow and rock. I wheeled a lot of well-known Colorado trails, a few in New Mexico, and of course, Moab!

I went into the Natural Gas and Oil industry, which kept me outdoors. I was still playing off the asphalt, just with bigger trucks. I sold off my trucks over the years, and lived in 15 states with my one job. Moving and working 110 hours a week tends to change priorities. I moved out to Vegas in 2010 to help my dad who had his 3rd heart attack. I met my wife and we now have kids. It is a fact that life changes, but the great outdoors is always calling.

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Back then, trails for me were short in length, but hardcore and took most of the day to run. Now I tend to cover more miles on less extreme terrain. Going remote and having your family out for the weekend requires maintenance and the right equipment for conditions. I have some nice upgrades like an sPod touchscreen switch controller, KC Hilites for night vision, an Old Man Emu suspension lift, and an Optima battery. For the one upgrade that is most crucial, I chose the BFGoodrich KO2, size 285/75R16.

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I went with the KO2 because I do not need anything to aggressive, but I do need traction on a multitude of surfaces, durability, and some longevity. Let’s face it: 5 tires can be an investment for the average person. I feel the KO2 is the most bang for the buck. I have peace of mind, no road noise, reliability, and performance. 

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When I crawled in the past, a trail fix was common. Today, with my kids and wife, a flat or tire issue would not be considered fun. I run trails in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and California. I document these adventures on Instagram, and I even have people asking me if they can come run a trail with the Trooper. I find the majority of these drivers are new or just have never dared to venture onto the trails. I don't mind leading, spotting or just helping. It's all about the adventure. You gain experience and find limits almost every time you're out. If I can point someone in the right direction or in some way inspire them to go and enjoy the great outdoors, I am left with a satisfying feeling. At the end of the day, it’s about doing what you enjoy and meeting new people in the community. Hopefully I'll see some of you out there on the trail!

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Build

Extreme Makeover

Editor’s note: When Javier Jacobo bought his 1993 Subaru Impreza L, it was simply a mode of transportation. The green sedan was a Craigslist cast-off, and it certainly wouldn’t have won any beauty awards. But after a serious makeover — new paint, a WRX engine swap, and other performance upgrades — Javier couldn’t be more in love with his Subie.

 




I have always loved cars ever since I was young. My older brother and I grew up collecting toy cars and we would always race them.  When the Need for Speed: Underground video games came along, that's when I got hooked on imports.

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Being fresh out of high school, I needed a car to take me to college and work. With very few funds, my options were limited. My brother was the one that found the ad on Craigslist with the headline, "Need gone, best offer takes it." I contacted the owner, gave him an offer which he took, and then I was the proud owner of an ugly green grandma-mobile.

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When it came down to it, I was choosing between an early ‘90s Honda Accord and the ‘93 Impreza. Since it snows where I live, the AWD was the only reasonable option. 

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I love every single thing about this machine, from the handling to the satin white pearl paint job, and, of course, the iconic Subaru rumble. Can't forget about that. But the thing I love the most about my car is that after 7 great years of ownership, my dream of doing a WRX engine swap finally happened. The JDM 6-speed transmission and Brembo brakes make it even better.

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The funny thing about this car is that I really hated it when I got it. At a certain point, I actually regretted not getting that Honda. (Those that know how the stock ‘93-‘96 Imprezas look will understand why I felt that way.) The sluggish, underpowered 1.8L engine that came in it did not help either.  All that changed when I watched Colin McRae in his ‘93 STi tearing up some gravel stages on YouTube. Stumbling onto the rs25.com forums also really opened my eyes to the potential my car has. After that, I was hooked.

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Right now, I'm on 245/40/17 BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Comp-2s. They’re my first set of BFGoodrich tires and I couldn't be happier with them. Once they warm up, the grip is incredible, especially on tight corners.  I actually got these tires because my brother has been running them on his ‘02 STi-swapped WRX, and he convinced me to get them. I’m glad I did.

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