30 Jan By 6×6 to the Namib and back
During what was a busy January for the museum Curator Wayne Harley and Workshop Manager Lorenzo Farella were tasked with delivering FMM’s two Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6’s to Walvis Bay Airport for the museum’s owner, Mr Johann Rupert, to use on a trip he had planned. After making the necessary arrangements and getting the clearance documentation, on January 18 the pair set off and headed up the N7 to the Namibian border to the accompaniment of smiles and waves of passers-by as these formidable beasts do attract loads of attention.
“It does not take long before you realise that the make-up of the 6×6 starts taking its toll,” says Wayne, “as this is a very fast, hi-powered truck, and if you’re not careful, 150 km/h becomes your cruising speed. Of course this is not because we were being reckless but, as you sit up so high, the scale of the vehicle makes 120 feel as if you are doing 80, so naturally you end up going faster. The ride is good but, again, the size and weight must always be kept in mind because braking, for instance, does take longer, and at speed the handling is different to a standard 4×4 pick-up.
“However, the kilometres did pass fairly comfortably and on the first day we managed 1 400 km with relative ease,” Wayne recalls. “However, the average fuel consumption is not for the faint-hearted, registering around 25 litres/100 km. We were asked to take the vehicles up via the town of Maltahöhe, which gave us the opportunity to cover 397 km on dirt roads, and this is where the 6×6 was an eye-opener. With no effort at all, we could maintain a safe 120 km/h and it felt as if we had never left the tarred roads. The 400 kW/760 N.m 5,5-litre twin-turbo V8 may be thirsty, but man it delivers the goods both at low speed or when you need to overtake, rocketing the 3,7-ton monster past other vehicles safely and quickly. And the high-mounted cab allows passengers to see way down the road, so there are never surprises. We reached our destination with a few hours to spare.”
A week later Wayne and Lorenzo went back to Namibia to collect the two vehicles. This time they did not have the strict deadline and so could relax a little, but the fuel consumption remained pretty much the same. In total, over 4 700 km were covered in less than eight days, including a few trips by the owner over the dunes at Swakopmund and Sandwich Harbour. “These incredible vehicles never missed a beat, but on a long trip they proved rather tiresome and if I could fault them at all it is that they need a cruise control,” concluded Wayne.