A Biography of a MadmanDate: 2003, Sep 02
Author: J.R. Smiley
"Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest of motives." ~ Oscar Wilde
This article is the first chapter in what will likely become an epic tale of man versus machine. You are about to embark upon a journey into the heart and soul of a man who started with what seemed at the time to be a simple enough idea, and in the following weeks (months? – years?) you will become privy to the exasperating experiences that can come from asking the question, “What if?” --- I will endeavor to spare you from the long series of colorful expletives that are sure to be a part of our hero’s vocabulary, but otherwise, to the best of my ability, you will see and hear everything exactly as it takes place.
Chapter One: ‘Introduction’
Those of you who have attended the last few Uwharrie events all know our good friend and fellow Isuzu fanatic, Rubo… And for those of you who have not had the pleasure, believe me when I tell you that there are few people on this earth who are as genuinely likeable. Rubo is the sort of guy that you meet, and within minutes it’s as if you’ve been friends with him for years.
But unlike any other Isuzu owner that I know, I truly believe that he is afflicted with a terminal case of Isuzu Modification Syndrome. In fact, his is such a dangerously mutated strain of the disease that he has authorized me to chronicle his story… call it a Public Service Warning if you will… in the hopes that none of us ever even entertain the thought of following in his footsteps.
Mind you, this whole ordeal started innocently enough…
Last April, several of us were gathered around the campfire at Arrowhead Campground, sipping ‘Cheerwine’ [Wink-wink] and discussing various as-yet-untried IFS modification possibilities. Rubo mentioned that he had been thinking about building a long-travel suspension for his 1996 Rodeo… the sort that they use on Baja 1000 pick-ups… and honestly, I-for-one thought that he was just kidding. - But he wasn’t. - In fact, this casual admission was just the tip of the iceberg.
By the time the July event rolled around, it was quite obvious that Rubo had been spending an awful lot of his spare time thinking… and it quickly became apparent that he had carried that original idea to another level entirely… farther and farther away from the norm, to a point where he believed he could build-up his Rodeo in ways that no one in all of Isuzudom had ever even attempted. --- I kid-you-not, the hairs on the back of my neck actually bristled and stood on-end when he told me of some of his plans…
Calmly, casually, and with a straight face, Rubo laid-out before me a tale that sounded far more like a nightmarish horror story than anything even remotely related to a rational plan of action. If he had told me, “I want to build an intergalactic spaceship” it would have sounded more lucid than what he said he was preparing to do.
Basically, his intentions back then were to take most of the mechanicals off of one of these…
…and persuade as many of them as possible into fitting either in or on one of these…
…the engine, transmission, driveline, dash assembly, seats, and Heaven only knows what else!
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, somewhere along the way, he still wanted to create a long-travel IFS that would negate the need for doing the traditional solid axel swap.
I remember thinking at the time that there is a very fine line between insanity and genius, and that I had some mighty serious doubts as to which side of the fence Rubo was standing on.
Since that time, I have had several telephone conversations with Rubo… and each one has revealed more and more details about his ominous Franken`Zu project. --- But most recently I have learned that even Rubo is beginning to have some pretty serious misgivings.
It appears that the parts from his 1996 Rodeo are nowhere near as interchangeably compatible with his 1990 Amigo as he had once hoped. And since he was relying on the bulk of this conversion to take place rather seamlessly, naturally this unexpected situation has posed a whole new set of problems… particularly in light of the fact that both vehicles are rather thoroughly disassembled right now, and one of them is (was?) his daily driver.
So then, what’s the new plan?
[Cue the creepy, Vincent Price horror movie music]
Rubo has informed me that he is somehow going to work with all of the parts that he has, and more-or-less turn this…
…into something along the lines of this…
…and that somewhere along the way, among the whole process, he will be cutting and shortening the Rodeo’s frame to make it all work. --- And were that not enough, Rubo still intends to continue headlong with the long-travel front suspension project that started this whole mess in the first place!
When I told him that I thought he was insane… He laughed.
When I jokingly said that I was going to write all of this up as ‘A Biography of a Madman’ and post it as a warning to others… He laughed even harder, and then encouraged me to do just that… He wanted me to be sure to tell everyone that they should never, ever, EVER try to follow in his footsteps.
So here it is friends: Chapter One of Rubo’s Spiraling Descent into Madness.
Sadly, this mammoth project is so all-consuming that there is barely a snowball’s chance that we will be seeing him at the October Uwharrie event… The expenditures have already reached the point that there could easily be a solid axle fitted on both of his Isuzus right now, and the party is just getting started!
Stay tuned folks, because I will be periodically updating you with the details of this saga until (A) this one-of-a-kind hybrid beast of his is completed, or (B) the day arrives that we have to call those nice young men in their long, white coats… HO-HO! HE-HE! HA-HA!