Learn why Pro­fes­sor Gor­don Mur­ray rates this 4x2 box on wheels way above his McLaren F1 road car.

Mur­ray’s lat­est cre­ation just in time to take the De­fender’s place

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - ALWYN VILJOEN

WORLD fa­mous car de­signer Pro­fes­sor Gor­don Mur­ray last week told me­dia the OX, a 4x2 box on wheels de­signed for Africa, is the car he is most proud of.

TopGear mag­a­zine quoted the de­signer of sev­eral For­mula One race cars and the McLaren F1 road car as say­ing of the OX: “I’m more proud of this than any other ve­hi­cle I’ve done.”

The Dur­ban-raised Mur­ray has long left the world of su­per fast and su­per ex­pen­sive cars to en­able peo­ple to build cheap and safe trans­port us­ing his patented iStream process.

This process, al­ready de­ployed by Yamaha for the City Car con­cept and TVR at the new fac­tory in Wales, uses the race car ap­proach to build a car, start­ing with the roll cage, adding the driv­e­train and sus­pen­sion and cladding the re­sult with pan­els in the spon­sor’s colours.

The Ox truck caps all Mur­ray’s ideals to con­struct af­ford­able, re­li­able trans­port. The roll cage is clad with wood com­pos­ite pan­els that are a lot tougher than steel. Mur­ray tested it by drop­ping a 200-litre steel drum of wa­ter from two me­tres onto the wooden truck bed. It did not so much as splin­ter. But if a panel is bro­ken, a new one can be bolted and glued into place in the field.

The diesel en­gine and five-speed gear box come from the Ford Tran­sit parts cat­a­logue and all the parts, from the rear hinge, to the three front wind­screens, are made with Africa’s ro­bust users in mind.

Mur­ray was co-opted to de­sign the car by phi­lan­thropist Sir Torquil Nor­man, who five years ago founded the Global Ve­hi­cle Trust (GVT), to pur­sue his am­bi­tion of help­ing peo­ple in the de­vel­op­ing world by pro­vid­ing cost-ef­fec­tive mo­bil­ity.

The GVT briefed Mur­ray on a unique hu­man­i­tar­ian pro­gramme to cre­ate a revo­lu­tion­ary light­weight truck.

Mur­ray said the truck, which can be flat-packed in­side its own frame and shipped world­wide, met all the de­sign briefs and then some. “I had no idea how good the OX would be, un­til I’d driven it,” he told TopGear, ex­plain­ing how the high ground clear­ance and sus­pen­sion were de­signed to en­sure the two-wheel drive truck can go over ter­rain that most of to­day’s heavy 4x4 bakkies would find a chal­lenge.

“Above the core hu­man­i­tar­ian con­cept, I now think there’s a huge com­mer­cial op­por­tu­nity for a farm ve­hi­cle in the de­vel­oped world … just as the De­fender goes out of pro­duc­tion,” Mur­ray said.

Get­ting over Africa’s bad roads was only half the brief. The other half was for the OX to carry stuff, and hav­ing grown up with the way we load our bakkies, Mur­ray made sure the OX can han­dle any­thing the owner wants to strap down on the back.

The load bin car­ries a pay­load of 1 900 kg and can com­fort­ably seat up to 13 peo­ple, or carry eight 44-gal­lon (166-litre) drums or three Europal­lets.

The OX’s cabin pro­vides spa­cious ac­com­mo­da­tion for three peo­ple, and the driver is seated cen­trally. To en­sure the OX can op­er­ate on lef­t­and right-hand drive roads, the steer­ing wheel is in the mid­dle.

The tail­gate de­taches com­pletely from the OX and can be ro­tated length­ways to dou­ble as a load­ing ramp. The long plas­tic “egg crate” frames un­der the rear bench seat can be used as sand lad­ders un­der the wheels to help the OX ride over mud or sand.

The OX is de­signed to be man­u­fac­tured in the UK but as­sem­bled lo­cally, avoid­ing im­port duty in many coun­tries. All the weld­ing and bond­ing, and safety-crit­i­cal stuff such as con­nect­ing brake lines and electrics, is done in the main fac­tory. Mur­ray de­signed the OX to be flat-packed within its frame, so that six OX flat packs fit in a 40-foot con­tainer. Three skilled peo­ple can put an OX to­gether in ap­prox­i­mately 12 hours.

In a state­ment from the global launch, Nor­man said feed­back from Africa’s buy­ers and aid agen­cies has been very pos­i­tive to date. “Our pri­or­ity now is to raise the fund­ing to com­plete the test­ing and take the project to fruition. We be­lieve that the OX has huge po­ten­tial for char­i­ties, aid or­gan­i­sa­tions and de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes. My dream is to one day see an OX in ev­ery vil­lage in Africa,” Nor­man said.

It does not have the lines of the McLaren F1, but Pro­fes­sor Gor­don Mur­ray (inset) said he is more proud of this than any other ve­hi­cle he has de­signed.

The prac­ti­cal in­te­rior of the OX has lots of pack­ing space, three flat win­dows for easy re­pair and the steer­ing wheel in the cen­tre to fa­cil­i­tate steer­ing in left- or right-hand drive coun­tries.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.