So here it is. The product of much worry, many late nights and the glorious realization of ambition over budget: TG magazine’s Project Swarm. A monster Mitsubishi L200 that combines proper military-spec hardware and a little bit of show car theatre to create something… er… unique. It’s been described as “Project Swamp”, a “Dessert Warrior” – presumably to take on particularly extreme Banoffee-road situations (sorry) – and “Really obnoxious, yet somehow utterly brilliant”. Most people just want to know why, and what the wing is for. And to take pictures. Many, many pictures. First of all, the why.
Well, Swarm has been designed as a pre-runner to tackle deserty-type off-road. So it’s got all manner of trick bits fitted to make sure it stands up to an adventure in Africa that’s worryingly imminent. The man who’s turned my stupid ideas into workable reality is called Ralph Hosier, who now looks quite tired.
Happy (presumably because the project is now nearly finished), but certainly a little careworn. The breakdown goes something like this: Fitted to our L200 is a full FIA external roll cage by Protection & Performance (with matching side steps), somewhat oversized in 3in steel and expertly painted by Dave Bridges of DB Restorations with a subtle blue pearl in the black, because why do something that isn’t special?
Other bits were sourced with the help of Paul Cowland of ProMotive, such as the low-draw, retina-searing LED lights from Lazerlamps: lightbars front and rear, LED fogs, sets of quad worklights… the lot. Suspension is uprated with a SuperPro kit, which includes tasty Bilstein dampers/ springs and a fat anti-roll bar, and the wheels and tyres are reinforced 35in Atturo Trailblades and Speedline respectively.
The floors had to be shaved and rewelded, and the suspension geometry was tweaked by Ralph to maintain steering axis, scrub radius, caster and other stuff I didn’t understand, so I don’t flip going over a speedbump. Also, because the truck rides higher (ground clearance is up from 205mm to 420mm) and has a slightly wider track (50mm front and rear), the wheelarches have been widened 40mm by Brad in Ralph’s workshop.
And given a little extra flair with some light-conductive plastic, blue LEDs and imagination. It’s properly bonkers at night, and gloriously silly. And then there’s the wing. Commissioned from Stuart at Stu-Art Aviation (ahem) Furniture, it’s a chopped-down wing section from a Beagle Pup, gutted and fitted with a linear actuator so that it splits open via remote control, and launches GoPro Karma drones. Really.
There is also camera ‘trawler arms’ on the sides that can swing wide and are fitted with GoPro cameras, a split-charge battery system, on-board compressor, high-lift jack, sand ladders and custom harnesses and seats by Cobra.
There’s also a vertical stack exhaust, a pair of spares mounted in the rear in flip-down cages (the wheel/tyre combo is heavy) and a MotoPed Survival extreme 125cc moped on a rail ramp that can be accessed by one – strong – person.
There’s so much more to mention that I’ve run out of space. I’ll explain more next time, while Swarm wends its way by ship to the dunes. I hope all 4,708 rivets make it in one piece!