Several years ago, the popular British TV show Top Gear made international headlines when it took a Toyota Hilux pickup truck all the way to the North Pole.
Toyota has just completed a similar expedition, except it went the other way and set off to conquer Antarctica.
The Japanese automaker sent ten heavily-modified Hilux pickups on a mission in Antarctica that took place from November of 2011 to February of 2012. The team aboard the vehicles was charged with setting up fuel depots, installing a weather station, and providing support to scientific expeditions on the continent. They also helped out with a ski race.
Overall, the fleet covered no less than 43,000 miles, with one vehicle logging almost 6,000 miles, a record for this type of expedition.
To tackle Antarctica, the trucks were specially prepared by an Iceland-based company called Arctic Trucks. Some of the modifications included fitting a crane to lift heavy items, and revising the suspension system.
A couple of the trucks were converted to six-wheel drive thanks to the addition of a second rear axle. These vehicles were fitted with a fuel tank that can hold an impressive 211 gallons.
Regardless of how many wheels the trucks had, they all utilized special tires filled with 2-3 psi of air. This is noticeably less than the 29 psi that Toyota calls for in a standard Hilux, but it gave the tires a surface area that's about 17 times greater.
Toyota claims that it did not make any modifications to the Hilux's 3.0-liter D-4D turbodiesel engine, or to the transmission that is bolted to it. While in Antarctica, all of the trucks ran on jet A-1 fuel. This was necessary because temperatures get so cold that standard diesel fuel would not remain liquid, rendering the cars useless.
You can find a video that Toyota made of the expedition below.