Hilux bakkies conquer both poles
Keen on polar exploration without the hassle of renting a snowcat? Why not just take your Hilux bakkie?
After prevailing upon the Top Gear team on of their Polar challenge during 2007, the popularity of snow-truck converted Hilux bakkies for polar and arctic exploration and support work has increased significantly - with most originating from Toyota’s Prospecton manufacturing facility.
During the Amundsen Omega3 South Pole Race held last month, a 777km skiing challenge celebrating the historic rival expeditions of explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott, Hilux D-4D double-cabs were requested as official support vehicles.
D-4D Auto the way to go across snow
The Omega3 bakkies were prepared by Arctic Trucks, a Reykjavik-based company which also fettled the Top Gear challenge machines.
Arctic Trucks replaced the standard front coils with their own heavy duty springs partnered by Koni dampers, all in a configuration 40mm forward and 50mm lower (surprisingly) than standard. Rear suspension is moved further back by 160mm, with the stock leaf springs replaced by heavy duty Tundra specification units with reinforced knuckles.
Tyre bills not worth mentioning. We would not recommend standard white finish, in case you get lost.
Raising the body is a key issue, especially as it has to accommodate massive Dick Cepec FC 44x18.5-inch tyres. Artic Trucks subsequently jacked up the Hilux body by 60mm and fitted special fenders to ensure enough clearance for the tyres.
The D4-D engine is left frightfully stock – considering those huge tyres – with only an auxiliary coolant heater being added, and slight modifications to the air intake and exhaust system.
Drive is four-speed automatic, with low range modified into a crawler gear thanks to the new 4.88:1 front and rear differentials, which ensure extra axle traction security thanks to dual lockers front and rear.
Towing custom-built trailers, the bakkies supporting the Omega3 race at times had to cope with loads of up to 2.5t – 1.5t more than their specified capacity. Ensuring optimal range two additional fuel tanks take total capacity up to 290l. In true Hilux tradition, nothing has gone wrong.
New differentials front and rear ensure both axles can be locked-up.
Pressed into service to ferry supplies, scientists and team support groups and to carry out reconnaissance duties, the four Hilux bakkies have covered in excess of 3 000km each across the forbidding, frozen terrain in temperatures as low as -30C. All at significantly better economy than a comparable snowcat.