We can all agree that General George Patton was a controversial figure of the past century. Stubborn and often unfiltered, he was known to make enemies, but one thing that could not be denied was his ability to get things done.
Similarly, diesels the world over have made enemies of governmental figures. From India to Great Britain, and even here in the USA, legislators have been clamping down on the use of diesels. Yet these vehicles continue to act as significant contributors to a variety of functions, sustaining industries, humanitarian ventures, and armed forces. Suffice it to say, they get jobs done, just like good old Patton did.
In our article, we want to examine five of the most practical and proven diesel machines in the world — from the far reaches of Russia to the volcanic terrain of Japan. Let’s jump in and see how each of these vehicles makes a difference, starting with the Sherp ATV.
No. 1, Sherp ATV, Russia
If there’s one thing you can say about Russian machinery, it’s that it never lacks for size. In league with the world’s biggest airplane (Antonov An-225) and helicopter (Mil Mi-26), the world has now been given another Ruskie behemoth in the form of the ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) by Sherp International, based out of St. Petersburg.
Designer Aleksey Garagashyan was likely inspired by the legendary Sherpas that live in the Himalayas, who for generations have acted as guides to the most forbidding mountain range on Earth. In a similar fashion, the ATV was created to withstand just about any terrain it comes across, whether it be rocks, tall grass, rivers, snow, and much more.
The heart of the ATV is a turbocharged four-cylinder motor, the V1505-T made by Kubota. It makes just over 44 horsepower and 88 lb-ft of torque, and is tasked with moving the 2,900-pound ATV at speeds up to 27 mph. The ATV is able to move nimbly thanks to skid steering, which slows down one wheel so the opposite side can make a turn. Massive 62-inch tires are obviously a big component of the ATV’s maneuverability, and are self-inflating to boot.
No. 2, Toyota Land Cruiser, Japan
Starting out as Toyota’s answer to the Willys MB, the Land Cruiser line has been around for over six decades and produced some of the most reliable and hard-charging vehicles in existence. The modern-day LC is more of a luxo-barge on par with a Range Rover or G-Wagon, but just like those vehicles, a rich heritage and high-tech developmental history have cemented the Land Cruiser as a trusted nameplate.
Famous uses of the Land Cruiser include journalist Nick Capp, who took a 1996 model around the world back in 2010 and 2011. It may have been gasoline-powered, but its reputation for capability and reliability bore true as he traveled more than 37,000 miles. Organizations like the United Nations and the International Red Cross have long used the Land Cruiser as a vehicle of choice.
The Land Cruiser is primarily seen as an SUV, but modifications over the years have seen the LC take on several roles including fire engine, ambulance, and mobile laboratory. Landmark diesel motors for the platform include the 12H-T from the 1980s, which brought direct injection to the table, and the 1VD-FTV from 2007, which marked the first V8 design.
No. 3, Caterpillar 797F, United States
If you had to dig a hole in the ground as a kid, you might have used a shovel and a wagon. If you have to dig a hole as an adult, you might have to use dynamite, massive drills, and a fleet of earthmovers to make it happen.
That’s where the Caterpillar 797 steps in. The largest of the company’s haul trucks, the 797 has been a hit since debuting in 1998, and was the first vehicle of Caterpillar’s to use extensive CAD during research and development. The latest model, the 797F, has carried the line to new heights as it has allowed for loads of up to 363 tons. This has been great for mining operations, as the vehicles can now be loaded up with more weight than before.
Powering the 797F is a proprietary Caterpillar motor, the C175-20 ACERT. It has 20 cylinders in all, arranged in a V-pattern and running on diesel, of course. It displaces a massive 106 liters of air and generates a jaw-dropping 4,000 horsepower thanks to four turbochargers, electronic common rail injection, and air-to-air intercooling. Taking care of the rest is a seven-speed planetary transmission with a hydraulic torque converter.
No. 4, Ghe-O Rescue, Romania
The Ghe-O Rescue may remind you a little bit of the above Sherp ATV, but we decided to add it to this list as it exercises a little more restraint while still retaining capability at the forefront. Touted as a do-gooder for the like of emergency services, the Rescue can get into scary areas without too much fear.
Ghe-O borrowed some the technology seen in off-road competitions in Europe, and even offers race-prepped vehicles on its website. The Rescue measures 17 feet long, sports a track width of nine feet, and weighs a little over three tons. You might think this type of size allows for a lot of room on the inside, and you’d be right; the Rescue carries a total of 11 passengers.
It would be tough to find aftermarket support for this giant, but Ghe-O offers plenty to make the Rescue all the more rescue-y. Options include inflatable air bags that go over the tires, which allow water traversing, as well as tracks for the rear to better navigate through deep snow. Standard options include locking axles, and gas or diesel motors. The latter of these can make either 218 or 304 horsepower, depending on the buyer’s preferences. Did we also mention that the drivetrain can be made waterproof and resistant to electromagnetic pulses?
No. 5, Bandvagn 206, Sweden
Rounding out our list is another European entrant, this one from the lovely country of Sweden. We found out about this rig from season one of “Diesel Brothers,” in particular episode six. Heavy D was tasked with providing a customer with a snow-going machine, but he was at a crossroads with having just a Super Duty to work with. He decided to simply soup up the Ford and spend the rest of the budget on a Bandvagn 206, and after seeing what it was capable of, we have to agree that he made the right choice.
The Bandvagn 206 was built by Hägglunds in the 1970s and was meant for the military, who accepted it into service in 1980. Nowadays, more than 37 countries still use the vehicle. Two units – a tractor and trailer – make up the total vehicle, and all provide power to the ground, thanks to an articulating joint that also handles steering duty.
Space inside the tractor allows for six passengers, while the rear allows for 11. Supply-wise, the vehicle can carry nearly 5,000 pounds. The tracks are obviously great for the snow, and make water travel also possible.
Powering the Bandvagn 206 is a Mercedes-Benz OM603 straight-six. Displacing three liters, the engine can produce between 109-150 horsepower and 136-228 lb-ft of torque through to a four-speed automatic transmission. Maximum speed is 32 mph, with a range of up to 205 miles.
These five vehicles all excel in their own ways, but the common bond that pushed these vehicles to peak performance was diesel fuel. It may upset a few politicians and a lot of environmentalists, but facts are facts, and we don’t see a good alternative popping up anytime soon.
Which vehicle is your favorite? Were there a few you would have liked to see on our list? And, where’s lunch? Give us your two cents in the comments below.