A funny thing happens when diesel fuel drops below -30 degrees Fahrenheit: It turns to jelly. So when Icelandic 4×4 conversion specialists Arctic Trucks began prepping a fleet of Toyota Hilux pickups for the longest polar expedition in history, they had to find a new fuel source to cope with the frigid climes. JET A1 fuel with a few additives not only fit the bill, but is the only fuel available in Antarctica, allowing the team to cover some 70,000 km (over 43,000 miles) in four months.
A total of 10 Hilux trucks were used as support vehicles for Extreme World Races, setting up fuel and weather stations, and providing support to skiers, three film crews and an assortment of scientists between November 2011 and February 2012.
Arctic Trucks’ Emil Grímsson tells us that, “Before starting this season, our vehicles had covered over 80,000 km on the [Antarctica] plateau, driving in temperatures as low as -56 degrees centigrade, and found safe routes through the dangerous crevasse areas using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)” mounted on the front of the trucks.
The Arctic Trucks crew outfitted each Hilux with heavy duty suspensions to handle 3,300 pounds of load capacity, moved the rear axle back over 6 inches, the front suspension nearly 2 inches, and upgraded the fuel tanks to 74 gallons on the 4×4 models and a whopping 211 gallons on the specially-designed 6×6 trucks. Beefed up auxiliary electrical systems joined an on-board air compressor, Webasto heaters and heavy-duty winch – all mounted up front – while custom, hand-cut tires sized 44 inches wide and running an ultra-low 2 to 3 psi of air pressure give the tires a footprint that’s 17 times larger than standard rubber.