THE SUV craze continues to sweep the country, with the school run now dominated by massive 4X4’s tackling high curbs as though they were Everest.
So what do you do if your neighbour has one-upped you in the offroad arms race with an even bigger, meaner, tougher 4X4? Well, if you rock up with one of these dogs that’ll be pretty much argument over – high curbs and speed bumps, here we come.
With a face only a mother could love, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog has been beating mountains, deserts and jungles into submission since the late 1940s. Even its name has a charming menace about it – ‘Unimog’ is an acronym for UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät, Gerät meaning device or machine in German.
With permanent four-wheel drive, comically high ground clearance, a flexible chassis designed to help extreme wheel articulation and a high cab that provides incredible visibility, a stuck Unimog is as unlikely a scene as a humble Donald Trump. Did we mention the 24 forward and 22 reverse gears?
In fact, Unimogs are so unstoppable that they’ve been the support vehicle of choice for one of the worlds toughest motor sport events, the Paris-Dakar rally (now the Dakar Rally). Features that help it deal with desert conditions include the ability to deflate tyres for running across sand, and then reinflate them all from the comfort of the cabin.
Another neat feature for us Brits is the ability to convert a ‘Mog from left to right hand drive in just a few minutes.
When you think ‘Lamborghini’ the image that probably comes to mind is something impossibly low, outrageously styled, ear-splittingly loud and slightly embarrassing to be seen in. Well, to be fair to the LM002, it qualifies as a Lamborghini in all those respects except the ‘impossibly low’ bit.
The LM002 first broke cover in 1986 and quickly earned the nickname ‘Rambo Lambo’. Borrowing its 438bhp V12 engine from the Lamborghini Countach supercar, the big Lambo lurched to 60mph in just 7.7secs – that’s fast for anything in the day, much less something weighing over 6700 lbs. It topped out at 118mph and averaged just 8mpg.
Production ended in 1993 and in many ways, the LM002 was way ahead of its time. In 1986, the idea of a premium brand producing a massive offroader was quite radical – today we’ve got giant SUVs from premium players like Bentley, Porsche and beyond. And yes, even Lamborghini is back in the game with its upcoming Urus SUV, rumoured to hit showrooms in 2018
Mercedes-Benz G 63 AMG 6X6 Brabus 700
It turns out that the ultimate four-wheel-drive is actually a six-wheel-drive. And that’s just where the outrageous numbers begin for this 6X6 Brabus 700.
Tuning company Brabus takes the regular G63 AMG 5.5-litre 536bhp twin-turbo V8 engine, which it plainly regards as underpowered, and fits bigger turbos to boost power to a towering 690bhp. That’s enough oomph to propel this near 4,000kg monster to 62mph in just 4.4secs. So that Porsche 911 Carrera 2 idling beside you at the lights won’t even see which way the Brabus went.
And the 6X6 isn’t just some tuner’s idea of an amusing modification – the original 6X6 Merc was commissioned by the Australian army and is equipped with quite serious off-road kit. That includes locking differential on each axle and, as with the Unimog, the ability to inflate or deflate tyres from inside the cabin.
The price of entry to this rather exclusive club is £470,000.
Ford F-150 SVT RaptorTRAX
If there is a cooler way to cross a snowy landscape at speed, we’ve not seen it. The RaptorTRAX is Ken Block’s creation; the demon rally driver and entrepreneur extraordinaire is also quite a snowboard enthusiast, and he fancied a faster way up the hills. So Block took a stock 6.2-litre Ford Raptor V8 and bolted on a Whipple supercharger, which bumped the engine’s output up to 641bhp.
Then Block installed a set of tank-tread-like items from a company called Mattracks. Each one of these tracks weighs about 350lbs, so the suspension has been massively uprated to cope, too.
The results are hilarious, as you can see in the video above. Block says that his RaptorTRAX is much quicker than the snowcats that are usually used to get snowboarders to outback skiing spots. And, as he also points out, it’s a lot cheaper than a helicopter.
Not to be confused with the much more conventional Hummer H2, the H1 is the real deal, a very barely civilized version of the military-grade High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or Humvee, that gained fame in the first Gulf War.
Encouraged by celeb fans like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the makers of the military spec version introduced a Humvee that Joe Public could buy, called simply the Hummer H1. Environmentalists absolutely loathed it, while men with masculinity issues couldn’t get enough.
To be fair to the big old lump, it really was built to go anywhere. With a huge 16-inches of ground clearance and virtually no front or rear overhang, the H1 could climb over 22-inch obstacles, tackle 60-degree inclines and wade in nearly three feet of water. But even in America, the Hummer’s outrageous size and weight – over 7000lbs and well over seven feet wide – were problematic. Production ended in 2006.