In 2007, Top Gear aired the “Polar Special”, documenting Jeremy Clarkson and James May’s Toyota Hilux racing against Richard Hammond and a team of sled dogs.
Amid the childish antics of the three television presenters lay a landmark achievement — this was the first time any expedition had ever reached the Magnetic North Pole in an automobile.
Touted as one of the most indestructible trucks in the world, the Toyota Hilux continues to push the boundaries of extreme endurance further still, having tackled a 5,900 mile journey into Antarctica, a distance that is further than any vehicle of its type has managed ever before. Organized by Extreme World Races, the journey took four months, from November 2011 to this February.
Enduring temperatures dropping as low as -58° Fahrenheit and climbing wild terrain rising to elevations above 11,000 feet, the expedition called for thorough vehicle preparation for safety and success. In total, Extreme World Races outfitted three Hilux trucks for the event, including a “6×6” models.
Modifications to the trucks included a heavy-duty crane to lift equipment, suspension and drivetrain strengthening, extra-large tires inflated to 2.0 to 3.o psi, which provided the arctic explorers with a footprint 17 times larger than those of standard tires and a 74-gallon fuel tank carrying jet fuel to best cope with the unforgiving cold. In the case of the 6×6, an even larger 211-gallon fuel reservoir was fitted instead. Surprisingly, the Toyota trucks retained the standard 3.0-liter D-4D engines without modifications. Other than a crawler gear, the transmission was left untouched as well.
Upholding its reputation for toughness, the three Toyotas completed the entire journey without a single technical hiccup. This latest feat, the longest expedition in polar history, now recognizes the mighty Hilux for its achievement in reaching both the Magnetic North and South Poles.