Thursday, December 20, 2012

4WD....Four Wheel Drives I have Known....

Tomorrow is the official first day of winter...but today, December 20th has began with strong winds and heavy rain...for now at least the snow is northwest of here, in Patricia's home area of southern Wisconsin, looks like Oconomowoc and that area will have Blizzard Conditions as the day makes progress towards sundown.  Sam in the western bergs of Chicago is on the border of rain and snow, and it appears his area will get a half foot or snow, his plans on coming home for the weekend may change by tomorrow, meanwhile we will get  rain for now, then the temperatures will drop tonight, and tomorrow, the official first day of Winter will indeed feel and probably look like it, with a couple to four inches of snow...but right now, thunder, with some lightning is pouring down with the rain...temps are in the lower 40s at the 9am hour.


The start of the Winter Season has me thinking back to the Four Wheel Drive vehicles I have owned and driven.  The first had to be the Dodge Power Wagon police vehicles and the Jeep Willy's I drove in the Air Force....the Power Wagons during the winter years at Griffiss Air Force Base in upstate New York...we abused the Hell out of those things in the heavy snow fall at Rome, NY, especially the first year I was there during the 70-71 winter.  The Jeeps in Vietnam, we really didn't need the 4WD, because at Nha Trang I was usually driving on pavement...and at Tan Son Nhut it was only needed during the muddy mess of a season called "The Monsoons"....either way, we cops abused the Hell out of those as well, and a few of our numbers died while doing just that.

The first four wheel drive I owned was a brand new 1976 Jeep Cherokee....Patricia and I had it for about 5 years.  It was stock and not a "Chief" model...I picked it up for about $6,000 new...this was back when you, if you were young and dumb and could afford them, you picked up cars new....I gave up that habit years ago, much better to buy sometime fairly new, 30,000 or less miles on it, they are usually much more affordable.  The 2012 Nissan with a few thousand miles on it, that Patricia just purchased in early November, is about as new as we have had, since the 1999 Toyota Pick-Up I had during the final years of my Health Department days.

Anyway the Cherokee, although a four wheel drive,  built for the highways, was probably the best off road vehicle I have owned, with the possible exception of the 1998 Jeep Wrangler I used to pull behind the RVs on those trips across America in the early years of this new century.  I only got the Cherokee stuck once, that was during the Blizzard of 1978 in northern Wisconsin.  An idiot  from the School District was parked in the middle of the roadway, and I had to swerve it avoid him...hitting a snow drift me, the Jeep, along with the Airedales, Rag and Max, ended up on a pile of snow with all four wheels off the ground...a nearby Farmer pulled me out of that mess with his old tractor...and we were on our merry way into Wausau.

The Wrangler was proceeded by an AMC Eagle,  a 1984 I believe....I didn't own that long, although I liked the ride and it performed well in snow, the damn transmissions didn't work worth a damn!  Went through two of those, before I finally gave up that ghost....I went without a 4WD for the next decade and a half.  We had moved into town, and we were into "family' cars including a variety of Mini Vans, I hated those damn things...still do.  The various pick-ups I purchased, including two Toyota models, I liked, but they were not 4WD.

The Wrangler served me well for about a decade...mainly in the years of RV driving, after my retirement from the Van Wert County Health Department....I sold it to my young neighbor Derek, a teacher and coach as Celina High School....despite the abuse it took on those cross country returns, a blown engine{my fault}, and some electrical served me well, and last I looked, Derek was still driving it around Celina.

By the time I sold the Wrangler, a 1998 model, Patricia had purchased a 2008 low miles Dodge Nitro. is a 4WD, but that is certainly not designed to perform "off road"....and on one of the few occasions I drove it the first year we had it, I managed to slide through an intersection at Van Wert, and wreck it and another poor soul...icy roads were to blame...but the Wrangler would have not been in that situation in the first place.  I took over the Nitro when Patricia purchased the Nissan last month....I am getting used to it, and hopefully no snowy disasters will befall me, and it, this winter.

The one thing I can suggest to you if you plan on making a four wheel drive matter why, consider a Manual Transmission.  The Cherokee and Wrangler were both equipped thus....the Eagle and Nitro were/are not, and it does make a difference.  Manual is the way to go with 4WD, if at all possible.

back later>>>>

Photos-Top Our Nitro a 2008 low mile model, not the best for off road use, but still 4 wheel drives, even the lesser of the breeds have advantages over the 2 wheel vehicles.  The Old Jeep Willy's I drove at Nha Trang were the first of the 4WD I drove....Patricia and I purchased the 1976 Jeep Cherokee new...costing about $6000 it was bare bones, but would drive through just about was a beast off road.  The AMC Eagle wasn't with us long...I liked the way it drove, but that model had transmission issues, and I traded it away.  The Wrangler was far and away my favorite....and it was either towed or driven through at least 40 States, as far away as Nevada, California, Idaho, to the West, New Hampshire and Maine to the East, and Florida, Texas, and Arizona, to the south and southwest.

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