ByUnsealed 4X4September 17, 2014

10 Things We Miss In Modern 4x4s

The modern 4X4 is littered with cup holders
and electrickery. Unsealed 4X4 is donning the Stubbies
and the terry towelling hat and feeling all nostalgic.
Here are the things we miss from the good old days.

1. Roof gutters

Not only did they funnel water away from the doors, you could bolt stuff to ‘em with ease. Useful things like roof racks. Now it seems you need an engineer’s degree to fit a simple basket-styled roof rack to a modern 4X4. Thankfully, there’s the odd gutter left on the ‘real’ 4X4s (take a bow Defender and
Y61 Patrol).

2. Beam Axles 

Ahh, the simplicity of the beam axle. And the articulation. Sure, it doesn’t give the sweet, supple ride of the independent stuff, but there’s just so much less to go wrong. Like CV-busting angles. God bless the manufacturers who bravely hold onto these low-tech legends. The Patrols, the Wranglers and the Troopies – may they never utter the words ‘independent’ in public again.

3. Mechanical Diesels 

There’s something to be said for an engine that needs just sweet diesel fuel to keep on running. Once these engines were jump started, not even a dead battery could keep them from stopping. All hail the mechanical diesel, and its inventor, Rudolph Diesel.

3.5. Sprung Seats 

Hang on, this was supposed to be a lament to days gone by? Sorry, this one shouldn’t have slipped in. Sprung seats are best left covered in dust in the back shed.

4. Hand Throttles 

Perfect control for steep inclines, water crossings, whatever. Not to mention poor man’s cruise control. How we miss the hand throttle on challenging bumpy tracks.

5. Chassis, not Spaghetti

A perfect storm of vehicles getting bigger and manufacturers wanting lighter has led to a swag of spaghetti-like chassis. Why else are we seeing more and more 4X4s with bent frames?

6. Windscreen Flaps

Vents or flaps, call ‘em what you will, but the ability of old LandRovers and Patrols to send cool waves of air through the cabin was a stroke of genius. When a simple lever raised the tin vents, the fresh air flowed. Why they ever dropped them, we’ll never know.

7. Genuine Jacks

Remember when vehicle jacks were serious hydraulic cast iron, not lightweight imitations? Nevermind the sub-standard scissor jacks that have infiltrated some vehicles.

8. KISS Principle

Keep It Simple Stupid, because simple can usually be fixed, welded, strapped or soldered. Think leaf springs being replaced with sapling timber and you get the idea. Try doing that with your hydraulic suspension, your airbags, and your computer-controlled widgets.

9. Bench Seats

Before there was the five-seater, every fourby was a six-seater. The front bench seat might not have had ergonomic delights like lumbar support, but it did allow your better half to sidle up next to you (which can’t be a bad thing). The first ever Simpson Desert Crossing saw the entire Sprigg family (consisting of two adults and two kids) occupy a single bench seat. The back seats were removed to make space for the two 44 gallon drums of leaded fuel. No smoking in that cabin.

10. Granny Gears

Hill Descent Control stinks. There, I said it. Computers artificially braking your steed making awful noises – it’s just not natural, and it treats the driver like a fool. Not to mention, you’re stressing the very things (the brakes) that low range is supposed to preserve. Bring back 4:1 low range ratios, baby!