Ernest Shackleton is a famed explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and known mostly for his ambitious Trans-Antarctic expedition from 1914-16. While the voyage itself didn’t achieve its objective, the way the crew escaped to safety is the stuff of legend.
Now, to commemorate the centenary of this heroic adventure, Hyundai teamed up with Shackleton’s great grandson Patrick Bergel, who drove the Korean carmaker’s Santa Fe across the continent of Antarctica from Union Camp to McMurdo and back again. Incidentally, the Santa Fe, which was a near-standard example, has become the first passenger vehicle to traverse this route. The 30-day expedition saw the Santa Fe, which was apparently modified only slightly to take in giant low-pressure tyres, negotiate 5,800km of extreme terrain at temperatures as low as minus 28-degrees Celsius.
The South Korean carmaker has also released a short film on the expedition, which you can watch above. “We were aware of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s story and as a Company felt a resonance with his courage and pioneering spirit. Our film celebrates this spirit and through Patrick, his Great Grandson, completes his dream to cross Antarctica – just a hundred years later. We hope that it showcases Hyundai as brand that that is more than just a means of transportation,” says Scott Noh, head of overseas marketing group, Hyundai Motor Company.
The Santa Fe was prepared for the journey by none other than Gisli Jónsson from Arctic Trucks. “It was a pretty standard Santa Fe,” says Jónsson. “The engine, the management system, the transmission, front differential and driveshaft were all completely standard. We did have to fit big, low-pressure tyres though – they are important as it’s all about getting the vehicle up on top of the snow rather than ploughing through it. We were running on one-tenth of a normal road tyre pressure,” he adds. To fit the tyres, the car’s body had to be raised with new sub-frames and suspension and gears were fitted inside the wheel hubs to cope with the different forces and the need to turn more slowly to run at the same speed, according to Hyundai. The only other modifications were to increase the fuel tank capacity, to convert the car to run on Jet A-1 fuel – the only fuel available on the continent and to install a pre-heater for the cold.