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In Focus: Vincent Knakal // Mad Media

Editor’s note: If we’re honest with ourselves, we all want visual proof when we really send it. All the better to brag, share, and marvel at the things we do. We’re celebrating that with In Focus, a series with the pro photographers and videographers that document the off-road world.

Today, Vincent Knakal, a Mad Media photographer like Ernesto Araiza, tells us about being an ambassador for bad-assery.




Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get involved in the off-road world?

I was born and raised in Southern California, and I fell in love with the desert and Baja California at a young age. I had always been into off-road motorsports. I grew up watching Mickey Thompson Stadium off-road races and motocross, and I went to several events at the Coliseum with my older brother and dad. I fondly remember watching The Baja 1000 on ABC's Wide World of Sports when I was young and dreamt of someday seeing it in person. 

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How does one become an off-road photographer? How did you get your start?

I started out my photography career shooting action sports. I photographed professional surfers, skate boarders, BMX riders, and snowboarders with Matt Martelli of Mad Media. But the budgets for the action sports industry dropped in the early 2000s, and we began to shift our focus toward off-road racing. Matt also had a passion for off-road, and already had a lot of friends within the community that were professional racers.

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My first experiences shooting off-road races was for some of these teams, and eventually it veered over to their sponsors. It didn’t take too long for Mad Media to gain a positive reputation within the community. My advice to anyone trying to get a start in off-road photography/videography is to get out there. Go to the races and shoot them. Don’t be shy, talk to the people out there. Talk to the teams, vendors, sponsors, other off-road photographers and even spectators. They will most likely welcome you with open arms. The off-road community is like a big family. That is what I love most about it. 

Is this the dream job?

It is the dreamiest dream job. Off-road is not the only thing I photograph, but it is up there as a favorite. We find ourselves in my favorite environment — the great outdoors — and every project seems to turn into an adventure of a lifetime. It has its challenges, but those are all part of the adventure. How many jobs are there where you get paid to go camping? Or bombing though the desert at high speed, eating dust and rocks on an adrenaline rush?

What IS Mad Media?

Mad Media is a Southern California based advertising and marketing consultant group with a focus on off-road culture. Unlike the traditional marketing group, we live the culture. We go out into the desert and off-road in our free time. We organize off-road races, and actually race at times. We consult and market for teams, manufacturers, and event organizers. We own a fleet of off-road vehicles, and most of all, we’re passionate about off-road culture. It is not uncommon to blow off steam with a group trip down to Baja or out to Glamis. 

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What do you feel is important about the work you do? Why do you do it?

These days the majority of my off-road photography is for the manufacturers and sponsors of off-road. My work has been featured in/on everything from Facebook to Car and Driver Magazine. As an off-road photographer, I feel I am an ambassador sending a message to the world about how bad-ass off-road is, and the beauty and ruggedness of off-road culture.

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I believe if enough people see this dynamic imagery, I will bring new people to this culture and grow the off-road family. With the growth of this demographic, hopefully we see more interest in this culture from other industries, and hopefully they’ll share our stories as well. I shoot off-road because I love the stories and experiences, and I want to document them and share them with the world.

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Are there any projects, videos, or personalities that really stand out as personal favorites? Or most memorable moments?

Some of my favorite projects are those in which we spend multiple days at a time with these talented drivers and they let us into their world. I have had the pleasure of working with quite a few young, up-and-coming drivers. I’ve watched them become the best of the best, like Andy McMillin, Bryce Menzies, and Sheldon Creed. And I continue to work with some of off-road’s freshest young talent.

I also have had the honor of working with some of the legends of off-road like Corky McMillin, Larry Ragland, Walker Evans, Bob “The Weatherman” Steinberger, Larry Roeseler, and Rod Hall. I will never forget the stories that they’ve shared. 

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I have also witnessed some pretty crazy things in my career. I’d have to say one of the wildest experiences was the Power Days event in Germany, where tens of thousands of spectators got to witness trophy trucks jumping over rally cars while FMX riders did back flips over them and enduro bikes climbed along side. The Mint 400 and Baja 1000 are both personal favorites and bucket listers for many motorsports photographers. They have both created countless memorable moments. I will always remember capturing images of trophy trucks battling it out short-course style, door-to-door, during Terrible’s Cup Stadium Racing.

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And documenting Johnny Creaves passing the entire field of Pro 2s in his Pro 4 to catch his son CJ and take second to CJ — with damn near a photo finish — during the Crandon Cup Race. Of course, I would have to say working on the XP1K series has created some "adventure of a lifetime” moments. Mother Nature just doesn’t give us a break, from 126-degree heatwaves to constant torrential downpours. And working with RJ Anderson is always a pleasure. He is a true professional, and a genuinely great guy. I would trust my life to any one of these guys and sometimes do.

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What makes for a good photo or a good video?

The most important aspect of any photo or video is how well it captures the story, and in that, the spirit of what you are shooting. With still photography, you often have only one frame or a small series to tell the story. Editing can become the defining factor. It’s about narrowing it down to those crucial moments, but before that, you need to capture them. 

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Composition is important in establishing the setting, and lighting is critical in setting the mood. Timing is also key, grabbing that decisive moment. If an image or video evokes an emotion, creates tension, or makes you feel like you are in that moment, then you know it is great.

What's your top tip for budding photographers who want to capture this scene? Or for people who just want to take better pictures of their adventures?

If you can, scout the terrain ahead of time. Teams pre-run the course when they can, and so should you. Do research beforehand. Find out what time the sun rises and sets. There are some good apps in which you can track the path of the sun. Try to shoot in the best light, whenever possible. Early morning and late afternoon will offer the most dramatic light. Mix it up and move around.

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Make sure you keep an eye on Mad Media’s channels

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Adventure Build

Marlon’s 2016 Subaru Crosstrek

Editor’s note: Marlon Chopra had the great fortune to graduate from university into the Great Recession. With jobs in short supply, he ended up applying to positions all over the country, which in turn led to a journey all across the United States. From his home state of New Jersey, to New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oregon, Utah, Louisiana, and his current home of Minnesota, this teacher has kept true to his passion for all things automotive.

 


 

I have been fascinated with cars since I was born. Seriously. I never wanted other toys besides toy cars and trucks. I could sit for hours just playing on the carpet with Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, making car noises and pretending I was racing or just driving to the grocery store. No one else in my entire extended family really cares about cars, but I have lived and breathed automobiles since before I can remember. 

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I love all kinds and shapes of vehicles, too.  From hot roads to drift cars, mini trucks to rock crawlers: you name it, I love it. 

I even used to run my own Japanese van and wagon blog in college and after, called OMG Pancakes.  It had nothing to do with pancakes, but it had everything to do with the quirky vans, kei cars, and wagons in Japan. 

Before my Crosstrek, I had (and still have) a 2005 Scion xB RS2.0 I bought new. During college, I used to campaign her in SCCA and NASA autocross. Since then, I have moved across the country multiple times, slept and camped in her, and done way more than any xB was supposed to do.

 


 

I got into Crosstreks because my little sister used to have one. It was an orange XV that she wanted to get rid of, and I jumped at the chance to grab a Subie to beat up on. Although I love cars, I don’t come from an off-road background by any means. I’ve been a lowered van and wagon guy my whole life, but I saw a lot of off-road Subaru guys in the Pacific Northwest and loved what they were about. I slowly started venturing further and further in the XV, and got more and more comfortable with how much fun there was to be had.  

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That orange XV and I had fun times all over Portland and Utah. While in Salt Lake City, I traded the orange XV for my current Pure Red Crosstrek (limited edition with only 1500 in this color) and I could not be happier! To me, the Crosstrek is what the Forester used to be. It’s small and utilitarian, but it will take you anywhere you could ever want to go — within reason! 

My Crosstreks have been all over the US, but most notably Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. Clearance issues and closed gates are the only things that have made me turn back. Anything I have thrown at this little car, it has soaked up and asked for more. 

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In Moab, I was doing green and blue trails, and at the start of some, people in their bigger rigs would tell me I’d never make it, that the Crosstrek would not be able to do the trail. I always enjoy seeing them at the end of the trail with quizzical looks on their faces, and then they ask a ton of questions.

People love this Crosstrek, and I think a big reason is because it seems so unassuming and lacks any of the intimidation of a bigger rig. Cute, if you will.  But then people learn about what the Crosstrek has done, or see it in action, and they are stunned.

Every vehicle is as good as its tires and its driver.

 


 

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Like most people, when I was trying to decide on the right tire, I weighed cost and actual usage against performance. BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2s were one of two finalists — at the time, there were only two good options offered in Subaru sizes.

Acclaimed videographer and adventurer Andrew St Pierre White put me over the top on the KO2s. On one of his videos, he was talking about tires and his relationship with BFG. When he started talking about the KO2s, he said something along the lines of how he has been all over the world with all kinds of tires, and that the KO2s were his personal choice for tire. That sold me. 

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Since then, I can say I am a KO2 customer for life. With thousands of on- and off-road miles and no issues, I feel I have chosen well. Truth be told, I have used my full size spare to help multiple people get off trails and have yet to use it for myself — knock on wood. I even got cactus quills in all four tires, picked each one out, and the tires are still absolutely golden. I went with the best, and could not possibly be happier. 

 


 

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As with my tire choice, purpose comes first, form comes second when modifying my Crosstrek. I need it to work for me, and then to look pretty.  Except for the exhaust — that was purely for those Subie brumbles. Here are the mods I’ve made so far:

Black Rhino Boxer Wheels

I partnered with Black Rhino when the Boxer wheels were released to grab one of the first sets in gold to beat up on! Switching to the gold Boxers completely changed the look of the Crosstrek and I love it! The Boxers have been incredibly solid wheels and are soaking up the abuse.

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Primitive Racing Full Skid Plate Setup (Front, Transmission, and Rear Diff)

The trans and diff plates are newer, but I have had the front skid plate on for some time and it has saved my butt more than a few times. Underbody protection is immensely important. 

Nameless Performance Axleback Delete

I needed brumbles and lots of them, so I went to my buddy Andrew that works at Nameless Performance for their incredible products. I used to have the Borla axleback, and while that sounded great, the Nameless delete unleashes all the little brumbles that the FB2.0 engine has to offer. I drive for sound now and my gas mileage reflects it! 

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King Standard Springs

When I switched from 215/65/16 KO2s and Sparco wheels to my current setup (215/75/15 KO2s with Black Rhino Boxers), I started rubbing quite a bit. The beefier tire with a lower offset wheel, along with well-used stock springs and shocks meant the body liked to make contact with the tire. A lot. When I am on trail for weeks at a time, the Crosstrek is loaded down. I did a ton of research and asked all the Subaru suspension experts before deciding on the King Standard Springs.  They provide me with roughly an inch of lift all around, but more importantly, the springs stiffen up the ride and rebound so much better than stock. 

Yakima Loadwarrior Basket and Aero Bars

Being a small vehicle, interior cargo space is a hot commodity. That means things need to go to the roof. I specifically went with the Yakima Loadwarrior basket because it fits the dimensions of the Crosstrek very well, is super strong, and I can put fork mount bike trays on and still use the basket for other things. I ditched the stock donut spare and have always run a full size spare up top.  Hanging off the driver’s side is an ARB awning attached to the basket with Fourteks round bar mounts.  I am currently working on building a solar shower to hang off the other side of the basket.

ARB Awning

An awning was something I wanted immediately because of how ostensibly useful they are. I was super lucky that two of my good friends were able to pass down their ARB awning, which used to reside on their kickass Suzuki Sidekick. We have used the awning countless times just to keep the sun off us in the middle of nowhere and to allow us to cook when it’s pouring outside. 

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Cusco Master Cylinder Brace

Firewall flex is a known issue with Subarus and the Crosstrek is no different. I put in the Cusco master cylinder brace to shore up that flex and it has helped immensely. 

EBC Ultimax Slotted Rotors and EBC Greenstuff Pads

The squishy brakes on the Subaru meant I needed to upgrade. Braking is very important to me and all my vehicles get a brake upgrade. The Ultimax rotors and Greenstuff pads help me stop and keep the brakes cooler on long trail descents. 

Future modifications include a rear tire carrier and swing arm, transmission cooler, one or two external LED light pods, and a whole redesign of the roof setup.

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See more of Marlon’s Crosstrek on Instagram at @iarebrownbear.

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Build

The Tirebird

There is no question: BFGoodrich® Radial T/As and classic American muscle cars go together like bacon and eggs. This storied tire was the first performance radial tire built in North America, and it has proven itself over the decades on countless vehicles. But back in the early ‘70s, when the Radial T/A was still in testing, BFGoodrich came up with an audacious plan to prove its tire’s mettle: put it on a racecar, compete against cars running on purpose-built racing tires, and win. 

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The Tirebird program was the result: an agreement with Titus/Godsall Racing to build three Pontiac Firebirds for the 1970 SCCA Trans-Am road racing series, and race them with Radial T/A tires. The “Tirebird” name was a no-brainer, and the racecars were fairly successful in their debut, chalking up a third place win at a four-hour endurance race at Mosport Park (now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park).

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T/G Racing took the Tirebirds to Watkins Glen International soon after for an SCCA event, and the team took home class wins on the Saturday and Sunday races. With those wins, the Radial T/A proved a street tire could hold its own on the track, and BFGoodrich had T/G Racing build an additional six promotional cars to tout the tire’s success in dealer showrooms. 

Of the original six promotional cars, only one is known to remain in existence. Incidentally, Bruce Johnson, the man who has come to own this rare piece of BFGoodrich history, is a man who has had a lifetime of Firebird fandom. In fact, the reason Johnson came to own this Tirebird is the fact that he grew up reading about the Tirebird in Popular Hot Rodding:

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In 2017, I was looking through online auctions and noticed a dark blue 1971 Trans Am for sale in California. The ad was so compelling and so well written, I realized this had to be the car that I saw in Car Craft and Popular Hot Rodding magazines as a kid. I kept bidding until I won the car.

Since acquiring the Tirebird, Johnson has meticulously tracked down and collected the history of his particular vehicle, as well as the Tirebird racing program: 

Six promotional/show cars were built by the Titus/Godsall (T/G) Racing team.  There were all new showroom cars bought from Royal Pontiac in Los Angeles. According to T/G Racing crew chief Doug Innes, T/G Racing bought the six Trans Ams and took them to their shop for conversion. The cars were stripped of their interiors and insulation, which were crated and stored. The interiors were included with each car when they were sold once the 12 month promotion was completed.  

T/G Racing installed a race seat, fire extinguisher, a mock fuel cell cover in the trunk, and a fuel filler on the quarter panel. Lightweight tubing was installed as a roll cage. Minilite wheels were installed — obviously with BFGoodrich® Radial T/As mounted on each wheel. Hood pins and rear window bracing was also installed.

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They were all equipped with the HO 455 engine and a M21 4 speed transmission. On completion, the cars were painted a medium blue to match the #92 race car. The graphics were done all by hand, based on a BFG design. It is still one of the most recognized race cars ever!

When complete, BFG picked up the cars and distributed them to their zones for promotional purposes.  Most cars were used by dealers on their showroom floors to attract customers.  At the conclusion of the racing season, the cars were either sold to the public or destroyed. To date, only two cars are believed to have been sold.  My car is one of them and the last known to exist.

The Tirebird show cars were more show than go — “No one could ever confuse them with a real race car,” as Doug Innes said — but nevertheless, they were a priceless part of BFGoodrich’s promotional strategy.

Once the year-long promotion ended, Tom Senter — an editor for Popular Hot Rodding, a well-known engine builder, and a Dry Lakes Hall of Famer — purchased the show car that would come into Johnson’s possession. Senter paid $1700 for the car, which came with all the original interior pieces and a wrecked engine. “A yippahoo salesman had taken a client for a ride in the car, and there was no oil in the pan at the time. Not one drop,” Senter would relate in a 1975 Car Craft article.

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Senter had plans to tear out all the faux-racing accoutrements and install a new Super Duty 455 engine. However, the direction of his build pivoted once he was unable to acquire the engine:

He decided to build the first pro-touring car by installing an LS6 454 from Berger Chevrolet and repainted it Ferrari Fly Yellow. The car had only 16,000 miles when he purchased it. This swap was featured in several car magazines. Unfortunately, Tom passed away of cancer in the 1970s.  After Tom died, the Tirebird was briefly owned for a couple  of years by Tom's close friend before it was sold to a Fresno real estate agent who took out the M21 and installed a Turbo 400 so his daughter could drive it to high school. After a year or so, he sold the car to Fresno area almond farmer, Tom Gejeian, in 1983 who drove it sparingly. 

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In 2004, John Motroni saw the car advertised in Goodguys magazine by Tom Gejeian. The ad stated that a ’71 Trans Am with an “L56” engine was for sale. Knowing that looked odd, John called only to find out it was in fact the Tirebird with a Berger LS6 engine that was featured in several car magazines and known as the Trans Rat. Gejeian was able to supply John with  copies of all the car’s magazine articles and other documents. John rebuilt the engine, brakes, and suspension. He replaced the fading  and chipping 1972 yellow paint job with dark blue metallic and meticulously maintained the car before selling it in 2017 to me.

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Since owning the Tirebird, Johnson has restored the car to the original livery of the #92 race car with the correct blue color and white graphics. From reading about the Tirebird to owning one, Johnson has brought his passion full circle.

 


 

For a more in-depth oral history of the Tirebird and the T/G Racing program, visit bfgtirebird.com.

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Build

Nancy’s 2017 Subaru Outback

Editor’s note: Although Nancy Vu dated a gearhead for over a decade before marrying him, she didn’t have a deep interest in cars until a major life milestone forced her to reconsider her transportation: motherhood. A minivan was out of the question, which is how she decided on her 2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited.

 


 

My husband purchased used cars left and right over the 10 years of our dating days. I loved that feeling of acceleration, the sound of the air being sucked into the intake system, or even better, that feeling of my belly being sucked into the turbo charger when he took me for a spin in his yellow Mitsubishi 3000GT. But I was really never into cars until I bought my very own, brand new, Subaru with my hard earned money. 

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I had been driving a 2007 Lexus GS450h when I was pregnant. Although I loved the luxury of it, I knew it was time for me to upgrade and get a Mom Mobile. I went with the Outback because — let’s be real — my first big girl purchase was not going to be a minivan. I wanted a car that would take me on adventures to faraway places, so, I needed a car that’s quiet and comfortable on the freeway, and has plenty of room for passengers and stuff. 

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I love that my Outback isn’t your average Mom Mobile. It serves well as a daily driver, has great safety features for my new baby, ample cargo space, excellent visibility, standard all-wheel drive, and exceptional off-road capabilities. 

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Part of that was adding BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires. They’re the most important component on your car. At first, I was a bit concerned that a tire with such an aggressive tread would produce too much noise. Surprisingly, it’s much quieter, and it rides nicely on the highway and on dirt roads. 

 




See more of Nancy’s Outback at @khoancy. You can find a full list of modifications below.

 




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Current Mods:

Exterior:

  • 2015-2017 Subaru Outback/Legacy JDM grill
  • 2015-2017 Subaru Outback/Legacy wheel arch
  • USDM Subaru window visor
  • Yellow fog light cover from Lamin-X
  • Black RallyArmor mudflaps
  • HELLA Supertone Horn Kit
  • GrimmSpeed front license plate relocation kit
  • Yakima LoadWarrior
  • Yakima LoadWarrior Extension
  • ARB Awning 2000
  • LP Adventure 2” lift kit
  • LP Adventure big bumper guard
  • LP Adventure skid plate

Wheels:

  • Motegi Racing MR118 (matte black; size 17x8”; 5x114.3 bolt pattern; 45 offset; 72.6 bore)
  • BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2 (245/65R17)
  • Gorilla tuner series lug nuts

Interior:

  • Footwell Illumination kit
  • LED interior lights

Hitch:

  • CURT Class 3 Trailer Hitch

Upcoming Mods:

Upcoming:

  • WaterPORT Day Tank 3.8 Gallon Portable Self-Pressurized Water System Bundle
  • LED reverse spotlights
  • LED bar
  • LED front lights
  • WILCOOff-road Hitchgate Solo Standard High-Clearance 
  • WILCOHitchgate Dual Rotopax Mounting Kit 
  • Full size spare tire
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Build

Philip’s 2016 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

Editor’s note: The Jeep Renegade is not the first vehicle that comes to mind when off-roading is a priority. But for Philip, making the uncommon choice is a regular occurrence, and so far, Mavis the Trailhawk has more than proven her worth.

 


 

My love of everything on wheels came from my father, a first-generation American whose father immigrated to the United States from Holland. Jim Storm was a master mechanic who loved cars, motorcycles, and had a taste for adventure. When he and my mother met, he was driving a ’56 Berkeley. I am not sure to this day which one she fell in love with first.  Not unlike a stray dog, unique automobiles always seemed to follow him home. As a boy, I remember the cool night air slipping by as we roamed the countryside in exotic-sounding machines — at least to a young boy in West Texas — like Lancia, Fiat, and Volkswagen.

One of those strays was a Saab 96 that became my first car, followed by a Ford Ranchero. I remember my Father saying, No son of mine is ever going to become a mechanic. So what did I do? I became a mechanic, working for my father for many years at the local Ford dealership. In 1982, the dealership acquired the AMC/Renault /Jeep line, and I moved to the new shop. I spent the next 22 years as an ASE-certified Master Tech with the Jeep line as it transitioned from AMC/Renault to Chrysler, then to Daimler.

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My children were raised in the car culture as well. Weekends were spent polishing up our 1982 Mustang GT for car shows or drag races. Not to mention going to the local dirt track or camping in our 1971 VW Campmobile. Jeep has always been a staple in our lives. We have owned five over the years, not including the two my oldest daughter has owned. We went overlanding in those Jeeps before overlanding was even a lifestyle. Something about the smell of dirt in the air and the mystery of an unexplored road always beckoned.

Just a small side note: lack of Jeep did not equal lack of exploring. A Ford Escort may not have been a good choice for roads meant only for high clearance vehicles, but curiosity called and who am I to resist?

In 2015, my wife Kay and I were looking at trading in our 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee. She saw a commercial for the new Jeep Renegade, and it was love at first sight. It really appealed to her sense of adventure and free-spirited nature. Neither of us has ever been accused of being conventional. We’ve always steered towards the less traveled path in most aspects of life, including vehicle choices.

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I was in the market for a Trailhawk, but at that time, they were few and far between. In July 2015, we settled on a Commando Green 2015 Jeep Renegade Latitude FWD, which Kay promptly named Olive. We quickly found others who had fallen in love with this unique new Jeep and joined the Jeep Renegade life and Renegade Owners of Texas Facebook groups.

The first thing that we knew needed to happen was an upgrade to the tires. Exploring the back roads of West Texas is a prickly business: just about everything has thorns. No one was sure that the BFGoodrich® All-Terrain T/A KO2 (225/65/17) would fit a Renegade FWD without any rub. We took a chance, ordered the tires, and they fit perfectly. A few Facebook posts later, the word was out in the Renegade community, and soon many others were sporting the KO2. Olive and those tires took us many places that everyone told us a FWD should not go, including Wolf Caves and Hidden Falls off-road parks.

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One Saturday in December 2016, we found a 2016 Omaha Orange Trailhawk that called our name. We traded the faithful Olive for Mavis. Mavis had new KO2 combat boots the following Monday morning. We learned long ago that if you want to take the road less traveled, you need to start with reliable shoes. Mavis was the first Renegade to earn a Jeep Badge of Honor on Black Gap Road in Big Bend National Park. Apart from the KO2s, she was totally stock. She took us down everything that Big Bend had to offer.

As most Jeepers will tell you, Jeep stands for “Just Empty Every Pocket,” so the modifications come one piece at a time. Next, Mavis got some steel underpants in the form of a Valkyrie Off Road Gear carrier bearing skid plate. Then we added the 1.5“Teraflex lift, followed by Auxbeam F 16 LED headlight and DRL bulbs. Moving from a Grand Cherokee to the Renegade left us a little short on storage for camping gear, so we added an Apex roof basket and crossbars. The fuel tank in the Renegade is a bit limited for the expanses of Texas, so the addition of a 2.5-gallon FuelpaX helped with that. Add in a Midland 75-822 CB radio, and we were ready to meet our fellow Renegade enthusiasts in Moab, Utah.

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In March 2018, Jeep Renegade Life hosted the first annual national Renegade meet-up in Moab. Jeepnanigans 2018 was a huge success. Thirty Renegades from across the country — ranging from heavily modified to totally stock — made the show. Fins & Things added a second Badge of Honor to our collection with hopefully many more to come. Jeepnanigans 2019 is already on the books for May 2019, and we can’t wait to reconnect with the friends we made. I have been so impressed with the capabilities of the Renegade Trailhawk. For under $30,000, you can purchase a fully loaded 4x4 that will comfortably take you where your curiosity leads.

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Next up for modifications will be the Valkyrie Off Road Gear ditch light brackets and Auxbeam LED pod lights. The list of soon to be added mods is long and distinguished, including Rocky Road Outfitters Super Sliders, Valkyrie Off Road rear differential skidplate, and Eibach Pro Lift springs for an extra 1” of lift. More and more aftermarket companies are starting to come on board as the Renegade proves itself. And when it comes time to re-shoe Mavis, I sure hope the new KM3 will come in her size. By the way, this in no way includes the list must-haves for my wife and her 2005 Jeep Liberty Renegade 4x4. A GoFundMe page may be in order!

Some say, Why would you choose a Renegade if you want to off-road? I say, Why not? For my wife and I, it has always been about the journey, not the destination, with the former being the worthier part. We choose to make that journey in something that is less than commonplace. We have always tried to let two favorite quotes be our travel guides:

“Not all those who wander are lost” —J.R.R. Tolkien

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” —Robert Frost.

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As retirement approaches, we look forward to many more explorations not cut short by deadlines or schedules, and we hope that you too find your own less traveled path.

 


 

See what Mavis can do on Instagram at @mavismayhem and @pstorm1.

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Build

Skyler’s 1973 Chevrolet Camaro RS/Z28

Editor’s note: Here's some good, old American muscle for your Independence Day. Skyler Guzman’s Camaro has plenty of attitude. Between meaty Radial T/As, black wheels, and a matte charcoal wrap, this split-bumper muscle car is a mean, monochrome machine.

 


 

My senior year of high school, my dad and I agreed that we would start a restoration project. We wanted it to be a mix between a hot rod and a daily driver that we could both autocross and take to car shows.

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Choosing the ‘73 Camaro was a no brainer, since we both are familiar with first and second gen Camaros. My father and I have worked on this car since 2015, and we’re still making minor tweaks to make the car look and perform better. What I enjoy the most about this car is knowing that it was all done by hand in our garage. 

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The car is powered by a 350 small-block Chevy crate engine, paired up with a manual Tremec 5-speed transmission. The car also has a roll bar, Wildwood disc brakes, Second Skin sound deadener, Hotchkiss subframe connectors, Global West extended tubular control arms, Recaro seats, a 3M matte charcoal wrap, and a set of BFGoodrich® Radial T/As.

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Having Radial T/As allows the car to have a mixture of modern day performance, as well as having that classic American muscle car look. The wheels that rubber rides on are actually the original wheels that came with the vehicle in 1973. My dad powder-coated them last year for the blacked out look. 

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My dad and I share this car, and we drive it all around the Bay Area. We also took the car to Hot August Nights in 2017, and taking the car on the road from Reno to Virginia City was an awesome test for the suspension and the changes we made.

 


 

For more on Skyler’s Camaro, follow him on Instagram at @z_twenty_hate.

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