Antarctica in fifteen seconds... Ready?
Fourteen million square km of snow, ice and crevasses –- It’s dangerous
Population density of 0.00008 people to the square km –- It’s remote
Lowest temperature of -89C –- It’s super-dooper cold
Leopard seals –- They’re just freakishly terrifying.
That was closer to twelve seconds, so I'll add one more thing: Leopard seals! Seriously, have you seen them?
Okay, fine. Maybe you don’t need to worry about a leopard seal attack from the cabin of your Arctic 4x4 (unless you go through the ice), but just how the hell you get any 4x4 through a place so perilous? Well, you throw Warren Buffet’s coin purse at a Toyota HiLux and, point the nose south toward the most inhospitable place on
earth. The end result looks a little bit like this...
THE RIG AT A GLANCE
Toyota HiLux 4x4
Up to 4.88 differential gearing depending on tyre size
Front and rear Air-Lockers
Standard automatic transmission
Fitting anything over 33’s on an IFS ’ Lux is usually a pretty involved process of cutting, hammering and ‘self-clearancing’ so when you step that up to a 44x18.5R15 tyre, things get… well, choppy. The inner guards are all but completely scrapped and new panels and bracing are welded in to clear the enormous ‘floatation’ tyres. Once the welds have cooled, giant flares do their best to cover the tyres in a style not that dissimilar to Borat’s man-kini.
SUSPENSION AND GEOMETRY
To clear the aforementioned rubber, the rear axle is moved back by six inches, while the front is shifted forwards by nearly two inches. Top-shelf Fox shocks and high load capacity springs are fitted at either end bringing the payload capacity to a ludicrous 1500kg. Heezus!
Bespoke, and built in-house, companies like Arctic Truck actually hand cut their own tyres anywhere between 38 and 44 inches depending on the vehicle and it’s use. A second core-less valve allows super-fast inflation a deflation down to their usual ‘tough-going’ pressures of 3–5psi. At this stage they have a tyre footprint 17 times larger than a regular car.
At temperatures below -35C, diesel turns to to jelly. To combat that issue, the fuel system is revised to allow the Polar HiLux to run on Jet A1 – jet fuel, admittedly with a few additives. Being the only available fuel in the Arctic, running a polar fleet on Jet A1 kinda makes sense. The 4x4 vehicles carry upwards of 280L of fuel, while the 6x6’s can cart a whopping 800L.
Webasto diesel heaters with automatic altitude adjustment
Crevasse protection ‘Stinger’ bar and Come-up detachable winch
Coolant and In-Tank fuel heaters
Chart-plotters and marine navigation systems
Engine driven air compressor
GPR – Ground Penetrating Radar system for crevasse detection
The basic starting price for a ‘baby’ truck (that’s on pissy little 38’s) with bugger all
accessories is around $60,000, not including the base vehicle purchase. Expect a vehicle ready for a polar expedition to tip the scales somewhere well north of $250,000.
I’ll take one, if you’ll accept my undying love and handfuls of pocket lint as payment.