What Was Your First 4x4 Mod?
Firing Order editorial: 4x4 mods are common but the types and reasons are owner-specific.
Recently I was sauntering through a parking lot trying to remember where I parked my truck, and I passed a seemingly nondescript, late-model Silverado Crew Cab pickup. It appeared to be bone stock except for one thing. As I walked past it and glanced at the front end, I saw a winch mounted to the truck. There were no other visible modifications to the truck. No suspension lift, aftermarket wheels, aggressive tires, or lightbars. Nothin'. This caused me to ponder: Why, it appears, was the owner's first mod a winch?
Which Mod Came First?
That Silverado got me wondering what mods were first for some of Four Wheeler's contributors and staff, and why did they choose them as the first mods? So I asked.
John's Jeep Gladiator Rocker Protection
Four Wheeler contributor and former editor John Cappa has built many legit 4x4 rigs and he shared a recent experience. "There were several modifications that I considered when I first took delivery of my 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport S. With plans to use the truck on mild off-road adventures, I knew the long and vulnerable rocker areas needed some extra protection right away. I opted for a pair of Rock Hard 4x4 Patriot sliders (Photo A). The sliders simply bolt on, defend the rocker area, and the added tube keeps trail obstacles and rogue shopping carts away from the sides of the Jeep. They have already been bumped into rocky obstacles several times, so it was absolutely the right first modification for my application."
Jim's Dodge M-37 Dual Carbs
Longtime Four Wheeler contributor and 4x4 history guru Jim Allen went back in history with his first-mod recollections. "What does a truck guy in the early '70s buy when freshly discharged from the U.S. Army? A worn-out M-37 Dodge, of course. I was poor but wanted to get the most of the 230 flathead, so I bought some old speed parts from Red's Heads in Sacramento, California a finned aluminum head (8:1 CR), an Offy 2 x 1-barrel intake manifold, and a Fenton split exhaust manifold. Turned out, the dual carbs didn't work so well off-road, but the mods did get me into the semifinals in a truck drag at Sacramento Raceway with a blistering time of 26.48 at 48 mph. Lost to a '65 Dodge shortbed with a 426 Hemi. Bought a 1969 Land Rover in 1979. Step one was to buy some white spokers and 30x9.50-15 Armstrong Norseman tires. Took a couple of paychecks to get 'em, but as most tire upgrades do, the transformation was on the magical side versus the G78-15 M&S tires that were on it. You might say this was my first object lesson on the value of a tire upgrade."
Jered's Cut-Off Wheel Fenders
Four Wheeler Staff Editor Jered Korfhage's first 4x4 mod began with trail damage. "I modified my 2002 Jeep TJ Wrangler, first, unintentionally—by hopping out of a muddy rut and crumpling the driver-side fender on a maple sapling (Photo B). My method of hiding the damage from my parents also happened to make space for the set of 31-inch tires I had in the garage. When I was done with the cutoff wheel, the TJ had some flat-ish fenders, more tire clearance, and a unique stubby bumper (Photo C)."
For me, the first 4x4 mod has almost always been tires. The vast majority of 4x4s I've owned came to me stock, and living in Midwest farmland meant I needed a tire that was good at everything including snow and mud. This meant an upgrade to a better tire than what the 4x4 was fitted with.
What Was Your First 4x4 Mod?
What was the first mod you made to your 4x4? Did you go for engine mods to increase power? Was it tires? A suspension lift? Improved lighting? A winch? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what your first mod was and why it was your choice—and include a high-res photo if ya have one!