Gear's Arctic Challenge
By: Mike Levine
© 2007 PickupTruck.com
us may have tough commutes each morning, but not so bad you need a
friggin' shotgun to protect yourself from a polar bear attack. But
that's exactly what those crazy blokes, Jeremy
Hammond, and James
May at BBC's Top Gear magazine
needed when they drove a Toyota Hilux (think Tacoma,
but British) from Resolute Canada to the site of the 1996 Magnetic
year Top Gear approached Toyota Great Britain with the idea of driving
the Hilux over the same route as the Polar Challenge Race, an annually
run contest with
competitors in three-person team racing on skis 320-miles
across the Arctic. Never before had a motor vehicle attempted the course,
so Mssrs. Clarkson and May challenged Mr. Hammond to a new race: pickup
truck versus dog sled, the tried and true way of traversing the Great
White North. The result is televised
hilarity that nearly rivals the
trip's technical achievement outfitting a pickup truck for temperatures
as low as minus 97-F.
the Hilux for the race, Toyota GB and Top Gear teamed up with Icelandic
outfitter Arctic Trucks in Reykjavík. Arctic Trucks has been
modifying Toyota vehicles for extreme cold weather use since 1990.
points were two new 3.0-liter
Diesel D-4D Hilux Double Cab pickups, though
you'll only see one in the show that Clarkson and May are driving.
was extensively modified, including the front suspension, which was
lowered by 2-inches, moved forward by 1.6-inches, and lifted by 1.6-inches,
and the rear suspension, which received longer
leaf springs fitted with heavy duty long travel bump stops and specially
tuned shock absorbers.
stock 16-inch wheels were replaced with Arctic
Trucks AT405 15-inch aluminum wheels, with two valves per wheel. These
were shod with 38-inch custom studded snow tires, running at pressures
as low as 4-psi to help them "float" over the snow.
coolant and fuel heaters
were added to the 3.0-liter 164-hp oil burning motor, along with a heavy
duty battery. To
prevent gelling, specially
blended diesel was formulated and stored in an extra 26-gallon
fuel tank, that upped total capacity to 47-gallons. The
air intake was also raised and a special exhaust system fitted. The
rear differential was lowered to 4.88 and special front and rear diff
locks that could withstand the low temps were installed.
Hilux also carried a wide range of equipment designed to address
the special risks of driving across the arctic ice, including Garmin
GPS navigation, Iridium satellite phones, two-way radios, three onboard
cameras, and an auxiliary electrical system with a 220-volt inverter
to provide charging power for camera and electrical equipment.
of course, a bed mounted shotgun rack was installed to secure the polar
bear preventing boom stick.
Gear Polar Challenge started on April 25, 2007, and required an entire
week to trek the 320-miles to the finish.
out more you'll want to read about the trip on Top
Gear's and Arctic