Like so many other great ideas, this one was borne of a whole lot of alcohol. We were sitting in the Techie Lounge and watching the Top Gear Polar Special. After a few more drinks, someone scoffed at the goings-on in the saga, letting loose with the fatal words that have doomed many men before: “How hard can it be?” Anyone who has been in this situation before will be familiar with the sequence of events that followed. A conversation ensued involving CardboardSamurai, CaffeineFuelled, TechieInHell and myself. More drinks were consumed and the conversation gradually got louder. At several points, arguments broke out. The resolutions to those arguments may or may not have had anything to do with the original point we had been arguing about, and the solutions resulting from the problems that had sparked the arguments in the first place proved to be completely counter-productive to the project as a whole. And some of the problems we ran into just didn’t have a simple solution. Part I: Choosing Our Vehicle One of the largest problems we ran into was probably the most glaringly obvious. In the Top Gear Polar Special, they had used a specially-modified Toyota HiLux, likely costing many tens of thousands more than our budget would allow. Truth be told, our budget was quite limited indeed. There were very few cars that would have been easily accessible within the boundaries of our financial restraints. We briefly considered using our budget to modify one of the vehicles we did have available to us, however even that option rapidly evaporated when we opted to spend our entire budget on more scotch. In our defense, it was really nice scotch. Our expedition, then, was not off to a fantastic start. Nevertheless, we did have some great equipment to work with. I, of course, had my Corrado, which has proven to be a better winter vehicle than most, and better than virtually every four-wheel-drive truck I had taken out in the winter. The caveat was that it would only be good on the highways. After that, well, we’d pretty much have to walk. CardboardSamurai, had a marginally better option in a Jeep TJ; unfortunately it was a four-banger Jeep, and might be great once we got off-road, but was horrendous on the highway. Also, the three of us are quite large fellows, and trying to get all three of us – as well as the much smaller CaffeineFuelled, who we volunteered as our cameraperson – inside either one of those vehicles for any kind of long journey really just wasn’t going to be possible. It was at that point that TechieInHell made the obvious suggestion. Clearly, if we were going to take on the Top Gear challenge of driving to the North Pole, we should be taking an appropriately Top Gear vehicle. In retrospect, it seemed to be an obvious choice. After all, we have seen the capabilities of the Chevrolet Lacetti in many episodes of Top Gear, and heard many celebrities stating that it was easily the best car they had ever driven. Indeed, in numerous situations we have also seen its off-road capabilities, even its airborne capabilities. So we were confident the vehicle could make the trip. Fortunately, Techie had already invested in a good set of winter tires. For anyone unaware, in any climate where the temperature drops below about -3C, winter tires are actually a requirement. By -5C or so, those “All Season” tires really aren’t serving any purpose anymore, and in fact are little better than summer tires. Even a cheap set of winters will allow a vehicle to perform better in snow than a good four- or all-wheel-drive car on all-seasons. With that step out of the way, we began discussing the next steps we needed to take. Realizing that some work would need to be done to appropriately prep the vehicle for travelling through severe arctic weather, we sat down to draw up a plan. Unfortunately, in true fashion, rather than successfully solving the problem, we simply argued about it. By the time all was said and done, we had managed to do nothing more than block off the radiator with a bit of cardboard to allow the car to run warmer. The argument was once again resolved through the application of copious amounts of alcohol, and even though nothing had actually been resolved, we simply moved on to the next challenge that stood in our way. That challenge will be dealt with in Part II. Stay tuned!
Leave a Reply