Irony is often lost on many segments of the population, but for expedition leader and all-around swashbuckler Nick Baggarly, that is not the case.
Baggarly is the Executive Director for Drive Around the World, a volunteer-run exploratory team that uses long-range automotive excursions to encourage “cross-border understanding and goodwill.”
His latest project is called Zero South, a 1,200-mile trek to the South Pole to promote sustainable living, ecological conservation, and the reduction of harmful human impact on the planet. Where does the irony come in?
His team will be making the trip in two repurposed Hummer H1s, vehicles that don’t exactly have the best track record for environmental consciousness.
These aren’t ordinary H1s, though. The heavily modified ‘Hybrid Polar Traverse Vehicles’ have swapped the 6.5-liter V8 that came stock for a 3.2-liter turbodiesel straight-six that runs on aviation-grade biofuel.
Rather than power the H1’s axles directly, the six-pot’s flywheel is bolted to an electric motor that charges a 24-kWr battery inside an insulated box. That power is then transferred to two more 200-hp electric motors, one for each axle, which will then push the striking explorers forward.
What you’re left with are two all-terrain, Mattrack tread-equipped conquerers that can reach speeds of 45 mph without using a drop of fossil fuel or petroleum products. If successful, they’ll be the first hybrids to ever officially reach the South Pole.
The Hummers may look pretty extreme, but many of the components are straight from the AM General factory. The frame, body, suspension, differentials, and hubs are all 1998 stock, and even the goofy hardtops are sourced from old H1 ambulances, reportedly purchased on eBay for $1,600.
Perhaps the coolest bit, though, is what the vehicles will be towing. Holding up the rear will be a 1962 Airstream trailer that measures 23 feet long, bunks six, and is completely insulated with heaters. We imagine that last bit will be fairly important at -60 degrees.
Can’t wait to see these H1s in action? You’re in luck, because the Zero South adventure will be filmed as part of a ten-episode miniseries called Hummer to Hybrid, filmed in stunning 4K.