The term “off-road” means exactly that in Russia. Endless woods, rivieras, swamps and deserts surround the settlements of the biggest country on the planet. The marshy wetlands of Russia’s North are especially impassable both by foot and by regular vehicles or boats. This is a predicament that has challenged Russian inventors for years and has brought about some rather unusual vehicles. Such as this, the amphibious all terrain vehicle by Alexei Garagashyan.
ATV Sherp is pretty much all tyre
Garagashyan – a mechanic from Saint Petersburg – has been involved with unconventional terrain-conquering vehicle solutions for years, building competing vehicles. His own project – an off-roader that can swim, cross snow and the unpredictable, soft surfaces of those tricky marshes – takes a relatively simple approach. Indeed, he motorised four wheels.
It sounds odd, but that really is the principle behind it. Alexei Garagashyan constructed the amphibious off-roader around four massive low-pressure tyres. The vehicle looks to consist pretty much exclusively of tyre. Garagashyan’s monster seems to forget that slopes and slants exist, charging through anything. The vehicle is powered by an indomitable diesel engine built by Japanese manufacturer Kubota. The four-cylinder 1.5 litre engine generates 44 BHP, powering the specially designed axles which hold the colossal wheels. Power is carried to the axles not by complex differentials and drive shafts, but by chains and gears.
Amphibious off-roader with Kubota diesel engine
Steering as you and I would know it is not something you’ll find on this machine. Garagashyan turns the off-roader like a tracked vehicle – using two levers to accelerate and brake each side. A nice consequence is the pretty much non-existent turning circle; Garagashyan’s amphibious off-roader can turn on the spot. Equally as simple as the powertrain is the build. The scaffold frame of the chassis is dressed in steel paneling, making the underside of the vehicle watertight, and thereby allowing it to “swim”. The basic model features neither heating nor windscreen wipers, and seating is a simple padded bench, which can be easily transformed into a 2.10 metre long “bed”.
Considering that the top speed is only 45 km/h, it is understandable that the off-roader is fitted with a folding windscreen to allow the flow of fresh air in nice weather. Garagashyan shows off his amphibious ATV on a frozen lake in this video, breaking through the ice in parts – something that would make the driver of any other vehicle freeze in terror. But not Alexei... The massive tyres can paddle the ATV Sherp along at speeds of up to 6 km/h. A further, more comprehensive video shows Garagashyan on a journey along the Kola peninsula in the amphibious off-roader, as well as its creation. Here’s the link.
ATV Sherp – yours for 70,000 dollars
The initial prototype has meanwhile been developed into a mass-produced amphibious vehicle, named the ATV Sherp, just like the St Petersburg company that built it. This all-wheel drive monster is available with a range of options, including a specially designed trailer, and heating for the cockpit. As the Kubota engine (whose noise insulation has been improved in the production version) is used solely to power the wheels, an independent, self-sufficient system must be installed for lighting or heating.
The base price for the ATV Sherp is 70,000 US dollars. If you’re interested, you’ll find further information on the company website.