The stock engine in the Escudo was replaced with a 3.2-liter turbo-diesel QD32 from a Nissan Elgrand—a minivan. The transmission is also not stock, a Toyota 340-series 4-speed automatic works in concert with a GAZ66 transfer case to get power to all three axles. And to ensure this mishmash of parts can keep going for as long as possible, the truck has two heated fuel tanks with a combined capacity of about 92 U.S. gallons.
As far as the massive cab on the back of the Suzuki goes, it’s a well-appointed living area, with space to sleep four people. It has a TV, a powerful sound system, and just in case it got a bit too cold, a wood-burning stove. Subotin also told me that a 2,000-watt diesel-powered hair dryer was onboard. I’m not sure if something got lost in translation there, but it’s… interesting nonetheless. All of this work on the Suzuki took two years to complete.
The Land Cruiser Prado received a series of very similar modifications. The stock engine remained, however, the EGR system was removed and a new intake and exhaust were installed. The transmission was also swapped for an automatic unit from a Land Cruiser Prado 90, with several of the U-joints in the driveline being replaced for sturdier units from a Mazda Titan commercial vehicle. The Prado could also quickly deflate and re-inflate its tires thanks to a repurposed A/C compressor—won’t be needing air conditioning in Siberia—and the interior was similarly appointed to the Suzuki’s, with the rear seats removed to accommodate sleeping quarters, a small kitchen, and other facilities. It was also equipped with an enlarged, heated fuel tank of about 79 U.S. gallons.
Petropavlovsk or Bust
Once everybody arrived and all of the preparations were made, the group set off on a journey that would take 23 days, with only stops for fuel, rest, or repairs taking place along the coastal settlements where they’d previously dropped supplies and other villages. Thankfully, local photographer Anton Afansyev was able to capture several pictures of the group’s vehicles before they set off from their starting point of Magadan, where Afansyev lives.