We don't usually do features on sticker trucks and fully sponsored rigs, since we would rather reward the average Joe for spending his time and money to build a cool trail rig, but this is a little different.
In Southern California there is a trail known as Surprise Canyon, and it has long been considered one of the toughest trails around. As often happens, the trail was attacked by folks who thought four-wheeling was severely damaging the terrain and threatening the wildlife, and so it was closed to public use while studies were to be done. As it would turn out, those studies didn't really reveal much, but nonetheless the trail has been kept closed. Rather than twiddle their thumbs and wait for the Feds to get the trail open again, the Tin Benders 4x4 club-in conjunction with the Friends of Panamint Valley-decided to raise funds to take the environmentalists to court, prove them wrong, and give the public land back to the public. But rather than beg and steal the money, they decided to raffle off a 4x4 built with ultra cool parts by the members of the club.
The Tin Benders dragged home a clean '87 IFS Toyota, and then started approaching some local vendors to help build it into a trail machine anyone would be envious of.Through the Web sites-tinbenders.org and pirate4x4.com-they started selling raffle tickets. Next they had to build the truck, but rather than send it to a bunch of shops, they dragged all the parts and the truck out to the Tierra Del Sol desert safari and, in a matter of 14 hours, transformed it into a wheeling machine.
Finally, after a paint job in classic retro Toyota colors, they held the raffle and one lucky guy got the phone call to come to the Tin Bender's Jamboree held every April in Johnson Valley, California. The best part is that more than $15,000 was raised for the litigation to get Surprise Canyon open, and hopefully some day Dave Cook, the new owner, will get to convoy up the steep canyon with the rest of the Tin Benders. When they go, we'll be there as well.
Want to win a 4x4 and help fight for keeping the trails open? Visit tinbenders.org and see what they're giving away next year.