You Can Assemble the World’s First Flatpack Truck in 12 Hours, Just Like an Ikea Bookshelf
Do not write off this planar-sided truckette as an unwelcome gatecrasher among the power-crazed pages of TopGear.com. Its purpose is noble. Its pedigree exquisite. And its capability extraordinary.
“It’s a crime, almost, that only 20 percent of the world’s population has access to a motor vehicle,” says Sir Torquil Norman, ex-fighter pilot, lawyer, economist, banker and retired toy magnate. But he didn’t just rant about it. He set down the criteria for a new kind of vehicle for the developing world. It had to be ultra-simple, ultra-cheap, ultra-robust and ultra-repairable.
Then this serial philanthropist spent around £3 million to get the vehicle designed, prototyped and much of the way to production. Another similar amount, its creators reckon, would finish developing the OX, and build the factory. Then it could be sold for perhaps £10-£15,000 to development agencies, the UN, even to village co-operatives.
For design and development, he engaged Gordon Murray. Yes, Murray of five championship-winning Formula One cars and the McLaren F1. “I’m more proud of this than any other vehicle I’ve done,” says Murray. Better have a go then.
The OX has been designed with rough, rutted, washboarded gravel roads in mind. It has only front-drive, for simplicity, ground clearance and lightness. But supple suspension and helpful weight distribution give it immense traction, as Top Gear found on a test track normally reserved for 4x4s.
Murray says the inspiration for the dynamics came from the Renault 4, once a much-loved off-roader in Africa and Southern Europe.
Like a McLaren F1, the OX has a central driving position. Driving down tree-bordered tracks, it helps you place the thing very accurately.
The cabin is as uncompromisingly basic as the outside. Nothing to learn then. Just climb in, slide to the middle and strap in. The pedals are below rather than ahead, so there’s no need for seat or wheel or pedal adjustment. One size fits all.