With 3-axle monstrosities like the Devel Sixty 6x6, the Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6 and of course the Mercedes-Benz G 63 6x6, the segment for over-sized 6x6 off-road trucks is more popular than ever. Don't forget however, that trends are easy to follow but incredibly hard to set... The rich and famous love these beasts, spending most of the time flaunting them on boulevards, not using them as they were intended. Not much has changed then, since the German army started a trend by ordering the G4 as a versatile parade car.
Devel Sixty 6x6
At the Dubai Motor Show, a local company called Devel showed a concept of a 6x6 off-road vehicle that looked more like an vehicle used by the Gotham Police Department. Not much has been released about this tank, but we do know it has a 6.7-liter turbo diesel V8 producing 720 hp and 1,000 Nm (737 lb-ft) of torque, indicating it might use a highly tuned Ford Powerstroke.
Other impressive numbers are a 0-60 mph (96 km/h) sprint in 5.8 seconds, independent suspension with portal axles and Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS) like Hummer used from 1992 onward.
2017 Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6
Tuning company Hennessey Performance from Sealy, Texas started off with a 600 horsepower twin turbo engine upgrade and upgraded suspension, changing the Ford Raptor into the VelociRaptor. By adding another axle, Hennessey proved that everything really is bigger in Texas.
‘We will be building just 50 VelociRaptor 6X6’s, which makes it not only one of the most aggressive and unique vehicles on the market but also one of the most exclusive,’ according to founder and CEO John Hennessey. The base price for the VelociRapor is $349,000!
2016 Wild Boar Hell Hog
Early 2016 Californian, off-road company Wild Boar revealed the Hell Hog. A much better looking vehicle than its name suggested. That is, if you appreciate 6x6 conversions, as this 4-door Jeep Wrangler JK gained an extra rear axle and lots of body modifications.
To make things even more extreme, Wild Boar swapped the Pentastar V6 for a Hellcat 6.2 V8 compressor. Before planting it behind the iconic seven-slot grille though, the Hemi was beefed up to 754 horsepower and 675 lb-ft of torque, compared to the Dodge Challenger and Charger standard numbers of 707 hp and 650 lb-ft The Hell Hog was never taken into (limited) production.
2015 Kahn Flying Huntsman
Although most people associate Land Rover Defenders with Wellington boots, Burberry wax coats and Holland & Holland shotguns, Kahn was more thinking along the lines of an urban assault vehicle when designing the Flying Huntsman. This 6x6 Defender was released with the standard four-cylinder diesel coupled to an automatic transmission.
Kahn is known for their extreme Land Rover make-overs, so besides the required money transfer not much motivation is needed to get your Defender 6x6 with a V8. With a base price of £129,545 in 2015, it was more than three times the price of a standard Defender, yet less than half the price of the AMG 6x6.
2013 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6x6
The Germans call it the 'Automotive Declaration of Independence' but it could just as well be called the jester. No matter how silly the G-Class gets, people just love it. This 3.85 tonnes heavy 6x6 Geländewagen is based on a variant for the Australian Army, built by Magna Steyr in Graz since 2007. Its size and extra rear wheels make it look imposing, but the real surprises were under the skin.
The 5.5 liter twin-turbo V8 offering 536-hp and (561 lb-ft) and the home-made 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic transmission were impressive to begin with. Mind boggling however, was the fact that the transfer case sends power to all six wheels in a nominal 30:40:30 split through portal axles. A total of 5 differentials offer complete lockup of all six wheels and the tires can be deflated and inflated on the go with an on-board compressor. At a price of about half a million dollars, just over 100 examples were built.
Range Rover Series I
Under the name Truck Fire-Fighting Airfield Crash Rescue 2 Tonne 6x4 Mark 2, the British Royal Air Force and Royal Navy had conveniently named 3-axle vehicles based on the first generation Range Rover. The chassis was built by British coach builder Carmichael, leaving the drive train unchanged and the added rear axle was not linked to it, only helping to carry the extra load. Next to firefighters there were also Commando Personnel Carriers with a capacity of up to 13 people.
Panther Westwinds Ltd made name building questionable replicas, but also carried out work transforming a Ranger Rover into a 6x6 luxury limousine for King Khaled of Saudi Arabia. Based on the Commando Personnel Carriers, Carmichael also offered the Highlander Custom Car that could be fitted with every imaginable luxury item. These conversions were mainly sold in the Middle East as hunting vehicles.
Highlander Custom Car
1934 Mercedes-Benz G4 (W31)
The grand daddy of all these mutant is without any doubt the G4 from Mercedes-Benz. It was first built in 1934 for the Wehrmacht and they were offered as seven-seat (open) touring cars or (closed) saloons. It can be no surprise then, that these impressive vehicles with their straight eight engines powering the four rear wheels (technically making it a 6x4), were mainly used during Nazi parades.
Only a hand-full survived since the Second World War, from a total production of 57 vehicles. One is on permanent display in the Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum and one is part of the stables of the Spanish Royal family, and on display in the "Sala Histórica de la Guardia Real". This car was a gift from Adolf Hitler to Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
This controversial reputation makes it hard to be openly enthusiastic about these early 3-axle trucks, but from a purely technical point of view they are the founders of a segment and a trend that lasts until today.
© Words Natan Tazelaar