Hilux Reaches South Pole
Is there no driving challenge on the planet to thwart Toyota’s mighty Hilux? The legendary pick-up has just completed a journey across Antarctica to the South Pole, further proving its go-anywhere ability that saw it become the first car to be driven to the Magnetic North Pole in 2007 for the Top Gear TV show’s Polar Challenge.
The expedition also proved that the Hilux has certain advantages over Snowcats when it comes to being a sensible transport choice at either pole. It can travel much faster, uses significantly less fuel and can carry more passengers in more comfort. And thanks to the quality of Toyota’s 3,0 D-4D engine, CO2 emissions are lower.
Hilux models were requested as support vehicles for the Amundsen Omega3 South Pole Race, a 773km skiing challenge celebrating the historic rival expeditions of explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott. The Hilux Double Cabs were prepared for the extreme conditions by Arctic Trucks, the Reykjavik-based company in Iceland which also prepared the Hilux bakkies used in the Top Gear North Pole challenge.
Towing custom-built trailers, the Hiluxes at times had to cope with loads up to 2,5 tons – 1,5 tons more than their specified capacity, and were also newly fitted with a system to melt snow while on the move by using heat from the engine. Pressed into service to ferry supplies, scientists and team support groups, and to carry out reconnaissance duties, the four Hiluxes have covered more than 3200km each across the rough, frozen terrain in temperatures as low as -30C.
The Hilux has already proved its worth as a workhorse of choice for scientists based at Camp Novo and other Antarctic research stations, and is being reviewed as the solution for future transport requirements in the Antarctic. The vehicles are demonstrating beyond doubt their ability to tackle the world’s toughest environments.
Numerous modifications were made by Arctic Trucks to the standard Hilux Double Cabs for the South Pole Race. They all had 3.0-litre diesel engines with standard automatic transmissions.
The engine had an auxiliary heater on the coolant added and the original battery was replaced by two heavy duty batteries. The air intake was modified and a special exhaust system was also fitted.
The original 4-speed automatic transmission was used with low gear converted to a crawler gear. An additional low gear was added and the drive shafts were modified.
The front diff was modified with an Arctic Trucks 4.88:1 208mm ring and pinion and the rear got a bigger 240mm housing with a 4.88:1 ratio. Air lockers were fitted front and rear. Dick Cepec FC 44/18.5 x 15 inch tires were fitted to 15“ x 16“ steel wheels.
A fuel heater was added and two additional fuel tanks with 210 litre capacity were added, with a total capacity of 290 litres.
The front suspension was moved forward 4cm and down 5cm. The standard coil springs and shocks were replaced by heavy duty Arctic Trucks springs and heavy duty Koni shocks.
The rear suspension was moved back by 16cm. Standard leaf springs were replaced by modified Tundra leaf springs. A heavy duty stopper and rear track bar was added, and reinforced knuckles were installed.
The body was lifted 6cm with relocated body mounts, with extensive body trimming front and rear, and large fender flairs were added. The Hiluxes were equipped with VHF and HF radios, and each Hilux also had its own Irridium phone, GPS and laptop.
Other accessories included an African Outback roof rack, a crevasse front protection bar, roll cage inside the cabin and on rear the deck. A rear towing hitch was welded to the frame and a winch/tow bar fitted to the front and additional plastic skid plates were fitted. Two electric air pumps were installed and an air conditioning pump modified for pumping air. An auxiliary electrical system was added for assorted equipment for the film crew. Each Hilux had a Comeup 9500I winch with Dinex rope, with a power outtake for the winch both front and rear.
A snow melting system was fitted using engine coolant. New side steps were fitted to use as a push bar between vehicles and as a fixture for a crane to lift fuel drums. Fixtures on the rear deck allowed for fuel drums and assorted equipment to be stowed. Each Hilux also had its own high lift jack, shovel and crow bar.