Over the recent years, 4WD has evolved from a hobby to a quintessential motoring lifestyle catering to large families, industries and businesses. 4WD vehicles provide that much needed support to families that are often mobile, industries that require access to places that common vehicles can’t traverse, and a person’s need to have something bigger and powerful for those “just in case I need it” instances.
After years of improvisation and evolution, 4WD has its share of facts and trivia that is both fun and useful knowledge. Here are some of them that are sure to increase your interest in 4WD.
- 1898, Latil (French) Built a 4×4 gun tractor during the WWII era. This concept sprung from his manufacturing of power packs as replacement for the front axle shafts and horse of carts.
- The first 4WD vehicle was designed by Ferdinand Porsche (founder of Porsche cars). He designed the vehicle when he was 25 years old.
- First mechanical 4WD was built by the Dutch company Jacobus Spyker in 1902.
- Four Wheel drive auto company (FWD) built the first US vehicle in 1911. FWD supplied 4WD trucks to both British and US Marines during WW1.
- Mercedes and BMW followed in 1926 with their line of 4WD vehicles for commercial consumption.
- “Wankertank” or “Toorak Tractor”: colloquial names for 4WD commonly heard in and around the Melbourne area. Wankertank are 4WD’s that are only driven around town, while Toorak Tractor is a name pertaining to the exclusive eastern suburb of Toorak where these vehicles are mostly seen.
- The first 4WD Formula 1 racing car was the Ferguson P99 Climax. It remains the most famous specimen to garner twin claims to fame. The first 4WD car and the last front-engine car to ever bag a spot in a F1 event.
- The most radical 4WD vehicle is one made by a Russian armour-car builder Russo Baltique, who among all other details of the vehicle used whale penis leather as the seat covering. The Russian car company manufactures safety vehicles for Russia’s Tsars and top officials. The vehicle is named the Dartz Prombron Monacco Red Diamond Edition which is claimed to be the world’s most expensive vehicle at the time. Expensive it is, with gold-plated bulletproof windows, exhaust made of tungsten, diamond and ruby encrusted gauges and a Kevlar coating for the exterior. A shortage of whale penis leather was a concern until facts came in that a Blue Whale penis can grow up to 2.4 meters. The manufacturer has not mentioned so far the kind of whale that they get the penis leather from.
- World’s first pedal powered 4WD vehicle was created by a German fellow, Frank Fraune and called it the Trailcart. The Trailcart is a metamorphosis of a mountain bike and 4WD with 290Nn of torque. 400mm of axle displacements helping it master rugged terrain. This invention is receiving some serious reviews by investors which include Land Rover who tested the vehicle in its obstacle park in Wulfrath, Germany.
- Australians are the world’s biggest buyers of 4WD vehicles.