x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Top Five: snowmobiles

Where some see snow and ice as a hindrance, a dangerous terrain to traverse, other see a challenge.

The Foremost Chieftain.
The Foremost Chieftain.

1. Lotus Concept Ice Vehicle (CIV)

The biofuel-powered, propeller-driven trike on skids is 4.5 metres long and 4.5 metres wide with independent suspension all around. It also has an ice penetrating radar to detect crevasses and is light enough for a man to pull it across difficult terrain. The CIV was developed for use on an Antarctic expedition, to be deployed as the lead vehicle using the radar to plot the route. Being a Lotus, you'd expect it would have good handling, even on ice; just watch out for the propeller.

2. 2010 Arctic Cat Z1 Turbo EXT

Made for a rider with ice in the veins, this snowmobile has the most powerful production engine in the segment's history. A turbocharged two-cylinder motor propels the vehicle with 177hp, while the extended lightweight rear suspension gives better traction for all that power. It can be hooned in pretty well any wintery environment, though we doubt it would be allowed in Ski Dubai. The Arctic Cat retails for around Dh50,000.

3. Dodge VanKat

The 16-person people carrier is a Dodge Ram body mounted on a Thiokol chassis, and propelled by a 391 Ford V8 engine. Power is routed to a set of German-made Hans Hall aluminium tracks. The VanKat was made, and used by, Peak Adventures of Northern Idaho as its snowcat skiing transport. The company is going into liquidation and the vehicle is available for Dh110,000, a bargain considering it's a custom-built, one-of-a-kind; if you're into that sort of thing in your snow cruisers.

4. Snow Cruiser

Built in 1939 under the direction of the explorer Thomas Poulter, the Snow Cruiser aimed to further transport into the Antarctic. When the vehicle arrived in the continent, it broke the ramp coming off the boat. Poulter was able to get it onto land, but it was then discovered the vehicle could not handle the snow and the wheels spun freely. The crew discovered it worked better in reverse and, going backwards, made its longest trip of 148km. And, yes, that's an aeroplane on its roof.

5. Foremost Chieftain

The polar fire truck from the Antarctic is built in Canada, which knows about snow. Bigger than the Foremost fire truck used on airfields, the Chieftian four-tracked carrier has a number of uses, from carrying mounting drills, cranes or backhoes, to operating as a fire engine. With the extreme terrain to be found in polar regions, a fire engine that can traverse the most difficult conditions is a must. It might not get to a fire in a hurry, but at least it will get there.