Hilux still TG's bakkie of choice
The Top Gear team are renowned for their outlandish off-road adventures.
They’ve driven a Toyota Hilux to the North Pole and last year nearly drove up a volcano in South America, only to be stopped by debilitating altitude sickness.
Undaunted, the team’s volcano conquering fetish led them to Iceland last month, as seismic activity started gaining momentum around the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano.
Here they linked up with the same company which supplied vehicles for the team’s North Pole driving success two years ago, Reykjavik-based Arctic trucks.
Kids badgering you to go volcano spotting? If you own a D-4D spec Hilux, no problem...
Raised and ready
The team’s Hilux D-4D bakkies were fitted with special cooling and filtration systems to protect occupants and the vehicles mechanical bits from the effects of falling ash.
Enabling the team to climb as high as possible onto the slippery volcanic slopes a trick suspension and traction system was fitted to the Hilux, ensuring effortless progress.
Raising the body was a key issue, especially as it had to accommodate massive Dick Cepec FC 44x18.5-inch tyres, which were water-cooled to enable the team to drive over heated ash and lava.
Arctic Trucks subsequently jacked up the Hilux body by 60mm and fitted special fenders to ensure enough clearance for the tyres.
The front suspension gains 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.
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.
If Lord of the Rings had to be rewritten in contemporary times, Legolas would drive one of these around Middle Earth...
Better than a Boeing?
With the Hilux D-4Ds equipped to volcano spec, the Top Gear team did what any sane person in their position would, and set about driving to the Eyjafjallajökull volcano just after it had started erupting late last month.
Little did they know an epic eruption would follow by April 14, grounding nearly all air traffic in Europe…
During this challenging time for Toyota’s reputation for reliability, this Top Gear stunt (especially in the wake of the April 14 Eyjafjallajökull eruption) has galvanised the Hilux’s reputation yet again.