The Amazebra originally was a black Volkswagen Amarok. We (see About) bought it for going to Iceland. Rental cars can get pretty expensive over there, especially if you plan to go to the highlands. So we purchased it and before we took it home, did some photography. Well, this is kind of what we do (a lot). After a bottle of red wine we started messing with Photoshop and liked the result so much, we actually started working on all necessary Illustrator files for the zebra stripes, sent them to a garage specializing on vehicle foliation and after some weeks we had a Zebra.
Those pictures are the originals we created, slide 1 is the black Amarok still in front of the car dealer, slide 2 is the digital mockup and slide 3 is the Amazebra with most of it’s stripes in place. We love the car and are delighted by people laughing as we pass by, especially children are always mesmerized.
Those changes have not been the only ones. The first trip to Iceland, it was pretty much unmodified, just a new set of wheels with Nokian offroad tires, a cover for the cargo area and 2 additional batteries as we needed to be able to charge the camera’s batteries. This worked pretty well already. But some places we could not reach with it, so we changed some more.
- Two additional batteries with an IBS control system
Draining the two additional batteries does not endanger the main battery, still they are charged during driving. Very helpful.
- Tesser 4×4 Aluminum Roller Lid
Can be locked. Travel would have been impossible without it. We used a lot of Sika to seal it, still dust will get everywhere on the cargo area, so we bought Zarges aluminum boxes with an IP65 grading to protect our clothes, food and the rest of the equipment.
- Airline-Systems Lashing Rails
You go with aluminum boxes, you need them. Keeps everything in place. I actually sewed the straps myself.
- Gas Pressure Springs for the rear flap
Very nice, will make the flap go down smoothly
- Bilstein B6 Shock Absorbers
Changed the originals, the dirt roads on Iceland are brutal if you want to maintain some level of control. Very difficult to replace in case one is damaged.
- Additional Lazer LED ST4 Headlights
Crucial for Scandinavia. Up there in winter, you want all the light you can legally get.
- Dragon Winch 5.9t
We defined a „Plan B“. Which means we do not intend to use some of the equipment, but want to be prepared in case we might need it. Getting stuck in a trench in winter was a serious possibility.
- Horntools Snorkel
A must have in Iceland if you are serious. Also looks nice. Best is the sound, makes your car emit breathing noises.
- Seikel Transmission Vent Hose
Instead of 50cm, we can go as deep as 80cm now
- Underbody plating
Some pretty solid metal to protect the Amazebra from whatever we hit. The dents in it are impressive, so it did the job all right.
We replaced the fancy, no-use originals to heavy duty rocksliders. Have taken some impacts already as well.
- Front Runner Auxiliary Fuel Tank 42.5l
We were told by a trucker that gas stations in Scandinavia might run out of fuel in winter. Kind of „Plan B“, but very usable for being in remote places for some days.
- Webasto Park Heating System
Remotely controlled, fantastic for Scandinavia, especially when we had to stay in the car for some time. Pulls a lot of power from the batteries, so you need to check using a battery meter which we have with the IBS system.
- Heating for the diesel filter
From Siberia. Bit tricky to get and we actually never had to use it. Part of „Plan B“. Can drain your batteries completely if turned on by accident and forgotten.
- CTEK External Battery Charger
All cabling is installed permanent. Good not only for traveling to places where you need power to keep your batteries up, but also for the time in between adventures.
- LED Backup Light
Very helpful. The original is insufficient.
- Recovery Points including heavy duty shackles
Not used either so far. But important if you go to places where winching is a possibility.
- Backseat Mounts
Instead of the original backseats, we installed a mounting system for the equipment.
- Rims and Tires
We went from the originals to Nokian on a set of Dotz Crunch, then General Grabber AT2 on another set of Dotz Crunch, now BFGoodrich AT KO2 on a set of Brock Alloys. Took some time and some money, but we are happy now with the outcome.
- GoPro Dashboard Cam
We tried timelapse first, but was not persuasive. We connected it to permanent power and installed a polarizing filter. Without, the reflections are terrible. Movies are great now if you remember to check the rotation of the filter.
- iPad Mini running offroad navigation apps mounted to the dashboard
Forget everything else than topographical maps. Originally we used MotionX, now Gaia.
We made sure everything is legal as well. For most of the changes, we checked with the Swiss Cantonal Motor Vehicle Control Office first, then let them check the results. Still amazing what different answers you get from their experts if you talk to more than one. But they have been friendly all the time, likely they appreciated that we prepared properly.
There are some more changes I plan. Next thing I want to change the horn, the original is pretty quiet and does not impress the sheep at all. Also I want some more security straps and maybe a build-in compressor, the portable one we use is a bit impractical.
Soon after the Amazebra was going for our first adventures, the small zebra joined us. Originally from San Diego, it was a well seasoned traveler even before. We suspect that it is having a lot of parties once we go to bed or leave it at home alone. Sometimes it gives very naughty comments, but that might just be the hangover from the night before.
The elk is a more quiet friend of the zebra and joins us on our trips as well.