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AFRICAR Wagon - Arctic Equator car For Sale (1983)Very reluctantly I am offering for sale (in two possible states of renovation) this absolutely unique historic and revolutionary car. The 1983 AFRICAR Wagon proof of concept.
Originally put on the market for £149,000 the price has been revised upwards to £249,000. Why? Because people who seem to know what they are talking about have forcefully suggested that the original price was far to low for two reasons. It did not reflect appropriately the now proven historical importance of the AFRICAR concept and because it was too low to interest the kind of serious collector who I hope will provide a caring home for this car. And possibly some of the other "sister" vehicles I have for sale including fully practical and functional solar electric light utilities and the 6-wheel AFRICAR!
AFRICAR? Call it the original cross-over if you must. However, AFRICAR was much more. It was, in concept, a car, like a Peugeot 404 or 504, and yet with more ground clearance than a Hummer and more space between the inner side-walls of the tyres than any modern Toyota, Land Rover or other SUV. Minimum ground clearnace kerb 350mm. Minimum ground clearance loaded with 1000Kg 300mm. Vertical wheel movements of 350mm, rising rate to 15:1. Truly a car for Africa and the ordinary road which, while being a modest lightweight 1000kg car, would put specialised vehicles to shame even as a load carrier.
The AFRICAR Wagon was designed and built by Anthony Howarth in 4 months in Coalville in 1983. He had a lot of help from me with the West System Epoxy plywood floor pan and the interior. He had help from up to a dozen others as appropriate. But he specified, designed, approved, tried tested, changed and approved again every cubic centimetre of the vehicle. I was there, I remember it well! Probably why I am still using it daily on the road after 34 years!
I paid for every cent of itís design, construction and use. Another reason to still be using it on the road!
The AFRICAR Wagon featured in the Channel 4 5-part documentary series A Car For Africa. I drove it, effectively on my own, from The Arctic Circle to Mombasa. Anthony Howarth who was directing and filming the documentary was theoretically my co-driver but he was rarely in his seat and then, often, behind the camera shooting through the screen, side windows and rear window from the amazingly stable (no need for gyroscopes) AFRICAR platform. Watch the TV series to see how remarkable this stability was on roads you would not even dare take your modern car on.
The Wagon, evolved from the 1982 first AFRICAR proof of concept, "Bessy". It is unique as the only AFRICAR 4-wheel 5-door road going proof of concept station wagon.
There were three sister cars built to the same module -
The Himalayan Rally Pick-Up which is now in the Lakeland Motor Museum, re-painted as an Arctic Equator replica(!)
The (Arctic Equator) Pick-Up, modified somewhat inappropriately for another Himalayan Rally and a Sidney Darwin Rally. Present whereabouts unknown
The (Arctic Equator) 6-wheeler which I still own and is in France being rebuilt (slowly).
The AFRICAR WAGON is not a kit car or, as has often surprisingly been written or assumed, a 2CV Citroen derivative. It is a unique vehicle with completely different dimensions, road going capability and load carrying than the 2CV or its derivatives. The AFRICAR is the result of a clean sheet of paper design incorporating, even at proof of concept stages, far more original parts than would be usual in the vehicle industry. Why? Because the combination of track, wheel-base, vertical wheel movement, rising rate suspension, ground clearance, lightweight, efficiency AND load carrying were unique, unequalled and way out ahead in 1983 and are still unequalled today. Perhaps 20 more years of catch-up will bring a retro auto industry product up to AFRICAR mobility standard?
Fighting talk? Don't believe me? Come and try it, look at it, measure it and understand it.
To be more specific the engine is indeed a modified lightweight Citroen GS 1300cc 4-cylinder air-cooled boxer. Stainless steel manifolds and pipework improve performance and take care of the only parts vulnerable to long term corrosion. The gear box is a low ratio 5-speed Citroen GS van box. Otherwise only the wheels (but not the hubs)are Citroen. Even these are widened to provide correct offset for AFRICAR characteristic genuine zero scrub steering.
Reluctant to sell? In past year this nearly 35 years old vehicle has been used to commute to a boat yard and as a general run around. It has covered over 24,000 kilometres and never missed a beat. But I am selling my property in France and next year we will go back to living on a boat (as we did mostly from 1988 to 2003). The boat is 100% solar electric and we intend to make a European river and canal loop from SW France to Stockholm and Helsinki. Then the Black Sea, Greece and Portugal before crossing the Atlantic to make "The Great American Loop". There will no longer be anywhere to keep the AFRICARs or any reason to use them. Better they find an appropriate new and caring home.
Basic Price £249000 in drive away condition.
Personally I still lose plenty of money at this price...
Condition: Tidied up, tuned up and checked over but exactly as is. Astonishing Glasurit original paintwork as well as lettering and trim.
Original British papers, MOT and, although a 35 year old proof of concept, can be driven at owner's risk and with care on or off the road. Ride is superb, the relative lightweight vehicle and good engine torque curve make for an easy flexible performance and the handling and directional stability are outstanding... Actually stunning.
Additions and changes:
Tom Tom instead of the old 1982 pioneering on-board computer
For road reliability, a 5-Speed low ratio GS box instead of 4-speed correct ratio but weak box created out of 3 2CV variants for use on Arctic Equator journey.
Stainless steel manifolds and exhausts
You can buy this car but brought up to genuine AFRICAR 1980s specification and full road going condition: £449,000
AFRICAR specification was never published for intellectual property protection reasons. However, the 1983 proof of concepts built for the C4 TV series, A Car For Africa, were also designed so that if and when production financing was found they could be quickly updated to production specification for on and off road testing while first production prototypes were being developed.
This classic vehicle, the AFRICAR Wagon, was originally called, in 1978, The Composite Solar Electric Diesel car (see AFRICAR book). Today, almost 40 years on, we would call it a hybrid.
All the elements to hybridise are in place including the 93% efficient 1985/6 electric motor. Only modern controllers and modern 20% Sunpower solar panels will replace the originally specified 16% panels. Lithium batteries will more than halve the on board on-demand all-wheel drive battery weight from 120Kg to 50Kg.
The gearbox will be replaced with a special (as original 1980s concept) Quaife 6-speed box incorporating both 130kph + cruising overdrive and 28:1 crawler.
Of course, the front hubs have to have drop ratio gearboxes in them to allow the drive shaft to run horizontal above the wheel centre in normal trim. Obvious but nobody ever mentioned it? This is why the brakes must be in-board to keep the drop-box hub (unsprung) weight down. Apart from reliability this will reduce the complexity (5-parts) of the original shafts and make them half the weight, smoother, quieter and reliable. The lighter drive shafts and joinst will compensate for the heavier hubs. No net increase in weight.
Basically we will spend about £50,000 on each of the three unique features:
Solar electric hybrid on demand rear wheel drive element of all wheel drive
Unique 6-speed Quaife gearbox.
Drop boxes in the front hubs.
Because we would like to see this happen we are only increasing the price by a little more than an at-cost factor of £200,000 to £449,000.
Not expensive for a real piece of automobile progressive history. AFRICAR influenced car designers and car design way above its pay grade. Anthony howarth gets fan emails weekly, sometimes daily, thanking him for his insights into the problems and solutions for future transport on the ordinary roads of the world..
Buyer gets 2 signed AFRICAR Channel 4 books, 2 DVD sets of Africar TV series and 2 sets of complete and fascinating Africar reports and documents covering thinking and development between August 1978 and August 1988.
AFRICAR Wagon, as per the recent photographs, can be seen and driven by genuinely interested prospective purchasers on the road in South West France. Roughly halfway between Bordeaux and La Rochelle. Not far from Cognac, Saintes or Royan.
Accommodation can be arranged in our own Gites or, if not available, in close by good small hotel.
Please note some photographs show the Wagon mounted on smaller low profile modern tyres compared to the original, but not available, 185x15 80 profile M+S Michelins.
The 185x15 65 profile tyres have been found to be a bit low geared on the road and reduce ground clearance. As a compromise The Wagon will be sold on 195x15 80 profile car style all weather M+S equivalent Michelins...