The auction silly season is fast approaching and thousands of the world’s most expensive and most desirable vehicles are heading for Scottsdale Arizona to be auctioned in mid-January. If you’re a petrolhead with seven figures of disposable cash, there's almost no itch that cannot be scratched. This year, there's even an instant starter kit for would-be polar explorers in the form of the world record setting Thomson Reuters Eikon Polar Expedition vehicle that began life as a 2010 Toyota Tacoma.
In December 2011, exactly 100 years and five days after Roald Amundsen first reached the South Pole, this Toyota Tacoma set the world record for the fastest overland journey to the South Pole – the Thomson Reuters team of Jason De Carteret and Kieron Bradley used it to cover 1,114 km (692 miles) in 39 hours and 54 minutes.
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The Toyota Tacoma before and after the AT44 conversion at Arctic Trucks. The AT44 was then sent to Ian Nisbett Design in the UK for styling work (Images: Arctic Trucks)
Setting off from Patriot Hills on Sunday 18 December 2011, the team arrived at their destination one day, 15 hours and 54 minutes later having covered a distance of 1,114 km (692 miles) at an average speed of 27.9 km/h (17.34 mph). In 1911, it took Roald Amundsen's expedition two full months to complete the journey. One hundred years later, it took less than two days.
The 2010 Toyota Tacoma Polar Expedition as it will be auctioned is decked out in a NATO Green vinyl wrap over a Graphite interior with 14,281 miles on the odometer.
The vehicle is powered by a 4.0 liter TRD supercharged V6 engine producing 380 hp, but it is the modifications to the vehicle which are the most interesting and the truly priceless part of the package, as they were designed to work in the most inhospitable climate imaginable.
Roald Amundsen wrote about the first pioneering expedition in his book The South Pole: "I may say that this is the greatest factor – the way in which the expedition is equipped – the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order – luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck."
Patriot Hills is close to where the Ronne Ice Shelf meets the coast of Antarctica. The route (the orange line) approaches the South Pole from the West, starts off at approximately 500 meters altitude and rises to 2800 meters at the South Pole. (Image: Arctic Trucks)
Full details of Amundsen's expedition can be found here.
To fully understand the extreme conditions faced by Amundsen and this Toyota Tacoma, it should be understood that Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and driest place on earth. It is more than just very cold (the highest temperature ever recorded at the pole is -13.8° C and the world's coldest temperature was recorded in Antarctic at -89° C), but it also has many similarities to a desert climate, as air humidity is always near zero and it almost never receives any precipitation.
The Polar Expedition Tacoma was designed and built with the help and vast experience of Arctic Trucks, a business that began 25 years ago when Toyota Iceland began modifying Toyotas for the extreme conditions experienced in Polar regions. Now independent from the Toyota distributor, Arctic Trucks modifies a range of marques to improve their performance on difficult terrain in severe climatic conditions and has been involved in numerous arctic and antarctic expeditions.
The Tacoma nicknamed "Polar" had taken years of planning and even after its conversion at Arctic Trucks, it was sent to Ian Nisbett Design in the UK for styling work.
Arctic Trucks' changes to the Tacoma sound more like completely reengineering the vehicle than modifying it: relocating the front and rear suspension; increasing the wheel base by 160 mm; rebuilding the body and frame to fit the large tires with minimal lift to give it stability and the right weight balance; replacing the rear leaf springs with a rear coil suspension system for longer travel; rebuilding the drive-line for extreme cold conditions; reinforcing the rear axle; fitting a larger rear differential with lower gear ratios in front and rear; fitting heavy duty HT coil springs, Koni shocks and ARB air lockers.
This extensive build included the following:
- 330 Gallon Extended Range Fuel Tank
Metal Replaced w/ Military Grade Steel
Four OMP WRC XL Racing Seats
Garmin GPSmap 526 Navigation System
Garmin Nuvi Turn by Turn Navigation System
9 Ton Superwinch EPi 9.0 Winch
Dual VIAIR Air Compressors
Custom Interior Mounted Camera System
44” Mickey Thompson Icepack Tires
Webasto Engine Heated
Up Rated Prop Shafts and Rear Differential
Insulated Cab w/ Roll Cage
The Polar Expedition Tacoma also comes with all documentation which includes:
- Multiple Hi Res Photographs from the trip
Multiple 3D Renderings of the Polar Expedition
List of all supplies taken on the trip to the South Pole
Documentation for Shipping the 'Polar' to Antarctica
Climate Care Carbon Offset Certificate for the 'Polar'
Jason De Carteret's Crisis Management Guide for the South Pole Expedition
Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty
Original Drivers License for Antarctica
Original Polar Log Notes for Entire Journey
World's Toughest Journey Story
The team behind the expedition was comprised of British expedition leader Jason De Carteret, British engineering specialist Kieron Bradley, and Canadian Copywriter Jason Thomas.
The vehicle cost US$400,000 and many human lifetimes of experience to build and will be sold to the highest bidder (no reserve) at Russo and Steele's 15th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction.View gallery - 14 images