A 2007 Toyota Hilux Was the First Vehicle To Reach the North Pole, It's Still Intact

2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic Trucks 10 photos
Photo: Drivertribe on YouTube / autoevolution edit
2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic Trucks2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic Trucks2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic Trucks2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic Trucks2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic TrucksJeremy Clarkson and James May2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic TrucksThe Second Hilux by Arctic TrucksThe Globe
The Top Gear trio was known for doing all sorts of crazy, fun challenges. The whole show was about cars, but they managed to blend all the fascinating things about the automotive world with memorable, often hilarious moments. A diesel-powered 2007 Toyota Hilux is probably one of the show's most memorable rides because it reached the 1996 position of the Magnetic North Pole. But it's not the one you might be thinking of right now.
Believe it or not, the modified pickup truck is still in one piece. It was preserved very well, and we should be thankful for that. After all, it helped two of the three famous Top Gear hosts take a vehicle where none has been before. But there's a small issue that we need to remind you of. In fact, there are two!

You see, Top Gear was about entertainment. That, it did very well. However, some viewers are very keen on details, even when they know that what they are watching is a lighthearted, fun show.
In the Polar Special that originally aired on BBC Two on July 25, 2007, there was no mention of where the trio was actually heading. All that people heard was "the North Pole."

However, the North Pole is not just a geographic location; it is found at the northern end of our planet's axis. It's also magnetic because the Earth's rotational axis isn't fixed. It changes slightly every 14 months or so.

As such, the northernmost point of Earth is the geographical North Pole (where all the lines of longitude converge). But the Magnetic North Pole, which attracts the needle of a compass, moves.

The Globe
Photo: PIRO on Pixabay
Recently, people have been worried that the Magnetic North Pole is moving towards Siberia too fast. Some believe that it could flip, swapping locations with the Magnetic South Pole, which may cause issues for satellites and expose us to dangerous cosmic rays.

European scientists believe the Earth's last magnetic field flip happened roughly 770,000 years ago, and many claim that we're due for another one. NASA, for example, says "the flipping" should take place every 300,000 years.

Demanding clarifications

So, naturally, many fans started bombarding Top Gear producers with questions about their honesty. After all, the show claimed that it had taken a fully functional vehicle to the North Pole for the first time. It was quite an achievement.

Later, it was clarified that James May and Jeremy Clarkson, helped by an army of cameramen and some expedition experts, reached the last certified position of the Magnetic North Pole. That happened in 1996. A team led by Jock Wishart and David Hempleman made the first scientific measurements of the Magnetic North Pole: N 78°35.7' // W 104°11.9'.

Jeremy Clarkson and James May
Photo: Top Gear on YouTube
Richard Hammond, Matty McNair, and their sled dogs (huskies) might have gotten there, too, but we didn't see it.

BBC said that there was footage of James May explaining all that, but they chose not to put it into the show because they wanted to avoid boring viewers.

However, despite all that controversy, a record was set: Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson and James May arrived at the Magnetic North Pole in a modified Toyota Hilux by driving it there. Moreover, the episode was recorded and aired in high definition, making it a premiere for the British TV station.

"An car"

Top Gear helped Toyota come up with the "Invincible" trim back in 2003 when they attempted to destroy a fourth-generation one and didn't manage to send it to a better place.

2007 Toyota Hilux by Arctic Trucks
Photo: Top Gear on YouTube
Four years later, Toyota returned the favor by collaborating with Arctic Trucks and Top Gear producers to create the vehicle that would eventually reach the Magnetic North Pole. In fact, they made two, and both were used to complete the expedition.

They gave those two Toyotas custom-made 38-inch tires with studs wrapped around 15-inch rims,  thick underbody shields, bullbars with two extra lights, an extra fuel tank that could store a special type of refined diesel (jet A1) with a much lower freezing temperature point, a shotgun holder to scare off polar bears, and a couple of other minor upgrades.

It's unclear if they had the technicians take care of the "bumper dumper," too.

Today, the Hilux that started the journey looks like it just left the factory. It has a couple of bruises here and there, but the vehicle looks incredibly nice. That's mostly thanks to the fact that it was driven on snowy, icy surfaces, not because Clarkson took great care of it.

The Second Hilux by Arctic Trucks
Photo: Drivetribe on YouTube
The support unit, the one that got to the Magnetic North Pole first, also looks good. However, given that it wasn't properly introduced in the show, few people know about its existence.

Arctic Trucks has been taking care of these two pickup trucks since 2007. Over the years, they have also sent them to various auto shows around the world. According to the Drivetribe video below, the Hilux that started the journey and is famous for putting up with Jeremy Clarkson has just 2,348 miles (3,779 kilometers) on the odometer.

This Top Gear episode will remain in the history books, and it's one that James May is quite proud of.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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