Bestop's TrailMax front Aqua Sport buckets and Aqua Fold & Tumble Rear Bench are sold as J
Meanwhile, Franko's wife was getting impatient with his zeal driving him to work late nights tinkering with his toy. With three children and one in the oven, there was no way the small three-bedroom house was going to provide comfortable living for the family. A decision was made to expand the house in front and out back to make the needed room. After seeing what was available in home equity loans and how much it was going to cost to build the new additions, Franko took one of the cheapest bids he could find. Without fail, the bottom-feeding contractor barely spent any time working on Franko's home, and when he did, it was with leftover or second-rate materials.
Proto Fab also has a killer winch-ready crawler bumper. Franko asked the folks at Proto Fa
The family soon started spending all its time at grandma's house, leaving Franko to his torn-down home and almost-done project. Franko started feeling fatigue and pain spikes in his body. We received a call late one day from Franko relaying what his doctor had told him: "Yeah, things aren't going so good right now. I have clear cell sarcoma, which is a rare kind of cancer. They're going to cut it out next week. Then, they want me to start radiation treatment."
A couple of months later, we called to check on Franko to see how he was doing. He sounded much better, but his incision had gotten infected and he was almost done with the antibiotics for the infection. We told Franko that we were going to Glamis sand dunes and that we would miss him. He asked what day we planned on going and how long we planned to stay. Two days before our trip, the phone rang and on the other end was Franko. "I'm going to make it to Glamis for this trip if it kills me. Where will you be camping?"
We picked his favorite spot but didn't really expect that his wife would allow him to show. Friday afternoon passed and soon came the clear night sky, yet still there was no sign of the yellow beast or its owner. The warm campfire and long ride we took that day brought us an early sleep. Eventually, our sleep was abruptly interrupted by the sound of Franko's high-powered Ford small-block cracking the silence on an early Saturday morning once again. This time the engine wasn't stumbling, and there was no doubt that the new powerplant was ready for action. The shock mounts were refitted with a set of Bilstein 9100-series, 2.65-inch, threaded body shocks. Franko also said that the threaded bodies were going to be fitted with a spring and that removing the old coils and leaves was on the list of things to do after he finished his house and started down the road to recovery.
Proto Fab's six-point rollcage provides a guilt-free grab bar for the front passenger and
Franko eased into romping his rig, and it was like he had never been sick. We cut over the deep bowls, hit the 60-mph mark through the smaller woop sections (not bad for a short wheelbase), and tackled Competition Hill as fast as the stroker 347ci engine would carry us. After a year and a half of rebuilding his Bronco, Franko was finally back romping through the dunes with a smile from ear to ear. When we got back to camp, it was obvious the hard ride had taken its toll on Franko. When we asked if he was all right, all he said was "couldn't be better." Like all passions, what started out as a "get-the-job-done" weekend turned into a brief interlude of pleasure for Franko -- just enough fun to remember why he started this project and why he comes to this place.
TrailReady's cast-aluminum bead-lock wheels really allowed the big-power motor to rip thro
Prevailing before the hands of adversity to pursue an off-road passion -- now that's zeal. The Tank Trap in the Tough Truck Challenge, the sheer face of Moab's Hot Tub, the 1,000 miles of Baja, and the perils of Paris-Dakar are mole hills compared to obstacles like clear cell sarcoma. The passion to live is how people prevail in these situations. It doesn't matter if you rockcrawl, mud bog, desert run, dune, or rally. The exhilaration of prevailing against adversity gives all off-road enthusiasts a purpose, providing an identity to be passionate about and a reason to live.
Off-roading is a means for some to find a spiritual state of mind above this physical plane of existence. It's what sets us apart from others, and even though we may be different in our views of off-roading, this common goal bonds us together. And if you care to be passionate, dare to stand together against the sanctioning bodies that threaten to close our off-road parks.
The Bronco being Franko's first vehicle was a blessing in disguise. The truck kept the teenage Franko's unguided attentions to small goals that brought instant satisfaction. This introduced his life to structure and principle despite the lack of a father figure. The desire to shred the dunes meant lots of work hours fixing all the broken parts that go along with off-roading. The endless wrenching attracted Franko's friends who either praised him for being able to do the work or laughed at him for constantly having to fix his 4x4. Those young nights were spent bragging about trailing deeper than any other trucks would dare to romp. On occasion you could hear Franko say, "Someday it'll be bad enough to be in a magazine."
And in the end Franko made the journey to grace the pages of OFF-ROAD, and he did it from his garage with his own hands.