With the coming of fall, it was time for what is becoming a Southern California tradition: the annual Off-Road Expo. Now in its second year, the two-day Expo is a showcase for new off-road products, trick racing trucks, custom 4x4s and prerunners, and just about anything related to the sport.
Held at the Fairplex in Pomona and produced by Olympic Events, show promoter Guy Petersen said attendance at this year's Expo was in excess of 32,500, and more than 210 manufacturers and exhibitors jammed the Fairplex's main building and surrounding tree-lined areas with accessory displays and radical vehicles.
Here's a look at some of the neat stuff that went on at the Off-Road Expo. For more information on next year's show, contact: Guy Petersen, Olympic Events, (626) 599-8622, www.offroadexpo.com.
Spy Shot: Chevy's New Compact ColoradoEven die-hard fans of the General's compact hauler will admit the S-series is looking a little long in the tooth. Never fear, General Motors has a replacement for the S-series deep in development. Slated to be introduced as a 2004 model, the new truck - code-named GMT355 - will feature styling cues borrowed from the all-new TrailBlazer SUV. The 'Blazer's potent twin-cam, 270hp inline-six engine will be the top optional powerplant. Truck builder Isuzu, a longtime GM collaborator on small trucks and the builder of GM's mighty Duramax turbo-diesel engine, had a strong presence during the truck's development. The new hauler will be named Colorado and will be offered in regular cab, extended cab, and crew cab configurations; a special, as-yet-unnamed performance model will be added after the Colorado's introduction.
Power Stroke Diesel Excursion Takes on BajaPicture this: a hulking machine equipped with long-travel suspension and a diesel engine pumping out 850 lb-ft of torque flying across Baja's badlands. That's no mirage; Ford Motor Company and International Truck and Engine Corporation (designer and manufacturer of Ford's Power Stroke engine) have teamed up to build an Excursion desert race truck. What's more, a heavily modified Power Stroke Diesel with the aforementioned great gobs of torque will power the race-ready Ex. The 2002 Baja 1000 will be the site of the big SUV's debut, and Ford/International has graciously offered a ride in the beast during the running of the 1000 to a member of the OFF-ROAD staff. Stay tuned for more on the Power Stroke Diesel-powered Excursion race truck and its performance during the Baja 1000.
Black Diamond: Back from the DeadMany enthusiasts remember the name Black Diamond, Warn Industries' suspension division, which ceased production a couple of years ago, but not before introducing a slick multilink, coilover suspension system for late-model Jeeps. Now, the Black Diamond name is back with new ownership by Woods Ready Distributing. Woods will manufacture the Black Diamond suspension systems and components in West Monroe, Louisiana, and plans are in place for a national network of Black Diamond Dealers. Dealer inquiries are welcome. For more information, contact: (866) 680-6666, (318) 807-6666.
Color Our WorldAfter much market research, Ford Motor Company has chosen what it believes will be this year's most popular vehicle paint color: yellow. Ford Senior Color and Trim Designer Alan Eggly stated,"In the past, it was rare to see yellow on anything but a Mustang or a Ferrari. However, now yellow is popular for SUVs, trucks, and other youth-oriented cars."
Another color that's making news is blue, thanks to the wide spectrum of available blue paint. In fact, Ford predicts that blue will become such a popular choice for vehicle color in 2002 that it will surpass green in popularity.
Part of Ford's research into the latest trends in color involved meetings with automotive paint suppliers as well as with major players in the fashion industry. "Fashion is an important industry to watch because it acts as a catalyst for other industries," stated Eggly.
And what do the color experts think next year's hot automotive color will be? Eggly predicts a strong showing by Orange Crush. We'll see...
Strange But TrueDuring a moment of inspiration, Clinton, Wisconsin, resident and high-performance automotive ignition system builder Mark Madsen thought wouldn't a full-size truck make an ideal tree house? Using his power of persuasion - and a case of beer - Madsen enlisted the help of a friend who owns a crane, and soon his '59 Chevy Fleetside - sans engine - was up in a tree. Madsen told us, "...the cab is like the club house and the bed is like the balcony." Ummm, sure thing, Mark, just watch that first step...
The truck has been in the tree for seven years and has become a must-see for visitors to Clinton. In fact, the tree house is such an attraction that the television show Ripley's Believe It or Not! and the tabloid The National Enquirer have both done stories on the truck-in-a-tree. Naturally, Madsen has a Web site - doesn't everyone? - where more photos and details are available. Check out www.harleyheartbeat.com, if you must...
PMI had cast-aluminum transmission fluid pans and rear diff covers on display at the Expo. The deep-sump tranny pans feature a finned exterior, additional fluid capacity, a drain plug, 0.160-inch-thick walls, and a 0.350-inch-thick gasket flange. The diff covers are manufactured with the same features as the trans pans. PMI also custom-builds transmission pans to a customer's specifications, using the OE pan as a model for a CAD program. For more information, contact: PMI, (800) 335-4345, www.yourcovers.com.
Off-Road magazine had a strong presence at the Expo, as parent company Primedia set up a booth where subscriptions to the magazine were offered. Also at the Primedia booth were OFF-ROAD's sister magazines 4-Wheel & Off-Road, Four Wheeler, and 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility.
Jim McGean and his DynaTrac crew had their booth stuffed with several nicely built DynaTrac Dana 60 axles and Walker Evans' radical, narrowed, multi-linked, DynaTrac axle-equipped S-10 rockcrawler. The DynaTrac 60s on display generated much interest because of their reputation for durability and because DynaTrac installs all the good stuff: hyper-duty axleshafts, disc brakes, a locker, and more. This 60's diff housing was shaved on its underside for maximum ground clearance.
The Off-Road Expo was well attended by spectators and manufacturers alike. Both K&N and Fabtech had large booths where show-goers could pick up a catalog and stickers, check out products, and talk tech with company representatives. Scope out that radical Ranger prerunner at the Fabtech booth.
Pro Comp's large booth was a great place to scope out well-engineered suspension systems and ogle the company's extensive array of off-road components. But we spent our time visiting with Tamie Sheffield, Pro Comp's fine-looking poster girl who was on hand signing posters for a steady stream of admirers. Tamie's a model (gee, really?), actress, pro wrestler, and Web mistress. Check out her site at www.tamiesheffield.com; we did - repeatedly - but only in the name of research for this caption.
OMF Performance Products was on hand with its new bead locks. Riverside, California-based OMF uses several unique design concepts on its bead locks, such as offset holes for the threaded inserts, which allows for replacement should the inserts become damaged; a special tire bead retention groove on the inner bead ring; and TIG welding throughout. That polished Mickey Thompson Classic II equipped with a red-anodized OMF bead lock is a serious - and stylish - piece.
Glassworks Unlimited had its '02 SuperCrew on display, sporting the company's latest prerunner fenders.