Text: Danie Botha
Photography: Arctic Trucks
Iceland’s Eyjafjallaj?kull stratovolcano errupted in March this year.
With massive ash clouds causing chaos over Europe’s skies as airspace was closed due to the safety risk, a small band of brothers decided to go and see what the fuss about the volcano was all about. Also on the menu was the collection of vital scientific data.
To get to the actual volcano though, is no Sunday drive. Situated on an ice cap, the volcano is not normally accessible by vehicle.
Helicopters and planes sure, and maybe some purpose-built snow vehicles with tracks instead of tyres.
Yet the crew from Arctic Trucks in Iceland was not driving a specialised vehicle with tracks. Instead, they were driving a Toyota Hilux 4×4 bakkie. A 3.0D-4D double cab, to be exact. And they drove it right up to the lava-spewing vent of the volcano. Of course, no ordinary Hilux would be able to do this.
The Arctic Trucks Hilux was fitted with massive 38-inch wheels, the special snow tyres that can safely operate at pressures as low as 0,2bar. Its has front and rear differential lockers. It has 346mm ground clearance (under the differentials). And its 3,0-litre turbodiesel engine has been slightly upgraged to deliver 126 kW and 360Nm of torque, and to handle extreme cold.
This was not the first time that Arctic Trucks’s big bakkies have made the headlines.
The bakkie’s biggest media exposure came courtesy of the BBC’s Top Gear “Polar Special” programme. In this hour-long programme, presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May, driving an Arctic Trucks Hilux, “raced” fellow presenter Richard Hammond (on a dog sled, and partnered by expert Matty McNair) to the Magnetic North Pole.
The Hilux indeed reached its target – becoming the first car to achieve this feat.
But if you thought Arctic Trucks is only about extreme snow and glacier conditions, you’d be wrong. The company, which has been building extreme 4x4s for more than 25 years, also specialises in extreme military 4x4s – for all weather conditions. The Norwegian Army’s medical corps, for instance, uses a fleet of Land Cruisers, modified by Arctic Trucks, for medical recoveries in Afghanistan in extremely remote locations.
Additionally, Arctic Trucks also supply extreme 4x4s to utility organisations such as telephone companies, power and electricity companies, and rescue organisations, that all have to operate in extreme conditions.
But the best news about Arctic Trucks is that some of these extreme 4x4s are heading for Cape Town, and should land here by October.
The list will include three Toyota Hilux double cab 3.0D-4D automatics with 44-inch wheels, and a long list of modifications and accessories – all destined for arctic expeditions, departing from Cape Town.
Yet to be confirmed but looking like a certainty are two additional Hilux double cabs, as well as two 6×6 Hilux bakkies.