Hilux heads for bottom of world

Video: Hilux heads to Antarctica

Toyota South Africa must now have one of the biggest sales territories in the world – 8000km across, all the way from the Zimbabwe border to the icy wastes of the Antarctic.

Its latest export, an Arctic Trucks AT38 conversion of a standard Toyota Hilux Legend 40 bound for the Sanae IV base on the frozen continent, was loaded into the forward hold of the SA Agulhas ice-breaker in Cape Town on Monday ready for Wednesday’s departure.

And Cape Town could similarly claim to be the most far-flung city in the world - Sanae is regarded as a "suburb" of the Mother City and under its courts' jurisdiction.


The Legend 40 diesel 4x4 with its almost comically enlarged wheel arches and giant 38” tyres will join a small fleet of similar converted Toyotas now pulling more than their weight through the snow and ice between Sanae and the South Pole.

Similar vehicles are also operating on the ice around the North Pole – so here’s one automaker that can truly say it spans the world...

The Hilux has been donated by Toyota SA, Arctic Trucks (whose real home is in Iceland) and 4x4 Mega World to the South African national Antarctic Programme based at the South African research outpost where it will serve as a high-mobility personnel transporter and light-duty workhorse.

HIGH-FLYIN' HILUX: The addition to the fleet of special Toyota bakkies operating on the Antarctic continent is craned aboard the SA Agulhas.

The Hilux was built as part of an agreement reached with Arctic Trucks and 4x4 Mega World to prepare six SA-built Hilux bakkies for Antarctica duty. They have been assembled at Toyota’s workshops adjacent to its head office in Sandton, Gauteng, by a dedicated team from Arctic Trucks with support from 4x4 Mega World.

Toyota’s Andrew Kirby said in a statement: “We are extremely proud that the Hiluxes with their credentials as a die-hard workhorse have been approved for use in Antarctica.

“SANAP’s study of the environment, from geology to upper air research, is invaluable in our understanding of our planet’s fragile ecology.”

Certainly the Hiluxes are cleaner and more efficient than the snowmobiles and larger tracked vehicles that have until now been needed to traverse the southernmost continent as Ferdi de Vos of Toyota SA’s PR department explained:

THIS IS: A close-up of the Hilux Legend 40 bound for Antarctica. The large pipe behind the double cab is just one of the extra-long high-lift jacks it carries.

“We believe the Hilux is a most appropriate vehicle for Antarctica. With a South African history spanning 40 years (hence the Legend 40) and a work ethic groomed by millions of hard-working kilometres, it will offer our scientists a way of traversing the ice with the smallest-possible CO2 footprint.”


The trucks (about a dozen are in the Antarctic) will be operating at temperatures as low as -50°C – very different to the heat of the dunes close to Lambert's Bay where the latest addition to the fleet was field-tested recently.

The Hiluxes are still the only vehicles to have been driven to both of the Earth’s magnetic poles, sometimes in conditions that required their engines to be run for weeks on end to prevent their fuel from freezing.
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