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Explorer Shackleton's great grandson drives vehicle across Antarctic

Explorer Shackleton's great grandson drives vehicle across Antarctic

"Getting to the South Pole was a special moment".

It is fitting that a member of his family should be the first person to take a passenger auto right across the south polar continent, 110 years on.

The 46-year-old entrepreneur from London completed the challenge in 30 days in a Hyundai Sante Fe that had been modified by Arctic Trucks - an Icelandic company that specialises in converting vehicles to cope with extreme conditions. Despite having the Shackleton DNA, by his own admission he is no explorer.

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The Hyundai Santa Fe has become the first passenger vehicle to conquer Antarctica as part of an expedition that saw it trek almost 4,000 miles across the icy terrain. The fact that this was a place my great grandfather tried to get to a few times and I was there, it felt like a genuine connection.

"But. what we'd done was maybe a thousandth as hard as it had been back in 1916-17". "But it was an incredible journey, and an awesome achievement".

Taking place last December, the journey commemorated the 100 anniversary of legendary polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton's landmark Trans-Antarctic expedition. "Our brains often confused us into believing we were going uphill rather than down".

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On completing the mission, Jónsson said: "People who have a lot of experience of Antarctica know what it does to machinery: basically, anything and everything falls apart". The engine, the management system, the transmission, front differential and driveshaft were all completely standard.

Other modifications include raising the body to fit low-pressure tires, which operate at one-tenth of a standard tire pressure for the road. "The vehicle "trod" so lightly that all our tyre tracks were gone by the time we came back". New sub-frames had to be installed, along with a different suspension and distinctive gears within the wheel hubs.

Another cool thing about the auto is that it runs on A1 jet fuel, as this was the only source available in Antarctica.

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