Gordon Murray now building a go-anywhere truck for the African wilderness

He’s known for many things, but Gordon Murray can now add an inexpensive, easy-to-assemble, all-terrain truck to his F1 racing and McLaren resume. That’s right, Murray, along with famed philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman, are in the process of kick starting Global Vehicle Trust, an automobile company focused on making rugged and inexpensive trucks designed to haul heavy loads over primitive roads through third world countries.

GVT’s prototype is called the OX, and it’s designed for both regular transportation and for use in emergencies. A team of three people can assemble it in roughly 12 hours with average mechanical skill using basic hand tools. It comes packed flat in a box and uses common parts on each side of the vehicle. Even the three-piece windshield uses interchangeable glass panels.

True to Gordon’s McLaren F1 design, the OX uses a centered driver’s position, leaving the two outboard seats for passengers. Three occupants can fit up front, while 10 more can ride out back. And despite only weighting 3,500 pounds and powered by a 100-horsepower four-cylinder, the OX can carry 4,200 pounds – far more than most conventional car-based pickups in the affordable price bracket. And interestingly enough, the OX is only FWD. This makes it far easier to manufacture and assemble, while knobby tires held down by the engine and cab’s weight make for good traction.

All this comes from Sir Torquil Norman’s dream of helping people in developing countries with cost-effective transportation. He founded GVT five years ago and has been working on the OX project ever since. The fledgling automaker is currently seeking donors willing to support the ambitious project.

Continue reading about the OX below.

Exterior

2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX High Resolution Exterior
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The McLaren F1 will undoubtedly oust the OX as Gordon Murray’s most aesthetically pleasing design, but as beautiful as the F1 is, the OX has beauty in its simplistic, utilitarian design. Its flat panels, steel wheels, three-piece windshield, and unimaginative headlights all worth together in giving the OX a sort of “handsome pig” appearance.

The truck is about as no-nonsense as it gets. There is no air conditioning, no power windows, no radio – not even the driver’s seat has adjustments. The OX is about as barebones as it gets. Up front, the cab features a three-piece windshield with a single windshield wiper. The glass panels are easily replaceable in the field. The side glass features a siding pane for open-air driving. Simple sealed-beam halogen headlights light the way with high-mounted off-road lights serving as backup lighting out in the bush.

Its flat panels, steel wheels, three-piece windshield, and unimaginative headlights all worth together in giving the OX a sort of “handsome pig” appearance.

The OX features an incredibly tall approach angle, giving it good off-road chops. The thick front plates help protect the engine mounted directly under the cab. Smallish tires size in 205/80R16 look rather dopey, but thanks to an aggressive tread design, help paddle the OX through slippery terrain. With a width of just 70.6 inches, the OX can squeeze through tight spaces and navigate narrow roads. A 100-inch wheelbase is rather short, but on-road handling takes a big back seat to off-road nimbleness. Thankfully the wheelbase doesn’t short the OX’s payload capacity.

Things get even more awesome out back. The bed area is designed to carry 10 people, eight 44-gallon drums, or three Euro-pallets. This makes the OX one of the most versatile vehicles aimed at developing countries. What’s more, the seats inside the cargo area can be removed and used as sand ladders for self-extrication. They feature an egg crate design that’s perfect for giving the front tires some added traction.

The tailgate can also be used in several ways. First, it can be simply folded down, making steep ramp into the cargo area. Lastly, the tailgate can be completely removed and placed long-ways onto the rear of the OX for wheeled loads needing a shallower inclined ramp. The OX also comes with a removable canvas top that protects the rear passengers and cargo from the elements.

Interior

There’s not much to the interior of the OX. The three seats are arranged with the driver in the middle, slightly forward of the outboard seats. This gives the driver an unobstructed and equal view around the outside of the cab.

The center-mounted dashboard features a three-spoke steering wheel with minimal gauges placed on a stainless steel backdrop. The manual transmission’s gearshift is placed just to the left of the wheel, nearly even with the steering column. The cabin’s floor is simple and fuss-free, with no carpet to get wet or dirty.

Drivetrain

2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX High Resolution Exterior
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Powering the OX is a Ford-sourced 2.2-liter naturally aspirated diesel four-cylinder borrowed from the Euro-spec Transit van. The engine makes all of 100 horsepower, so the OX won’t be winning any races. A five-speed manual transmission, also sourced from Ford, provides power to the front wheels. The goal with the powertrain is simplicity and reliability, and with little in the way of ancillary equipment like an air conditioning system, turbochargers, or other non-essential parts, the little four-cylinder should have thousands of trouble-free miles.

Suspension wise, the OX uses a four-corner independent setup. Ingeniously designed, the parts from the left side fit the right, and vice versa. This means there’s no need to order a left-hand trailing arm – and worry you’ll receive a right-hand trailing arm. Coil springs and shock absorbers keep bumps quelled.

Prices

2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX High Resolution Exterior
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Global Vehicle Trust has not released official – or even a hinted at – pricing beyond the term “low-cost.” That said, the OX is designed for third world countries and other developing areas. It’s also designed to be used by aid agencies traveling into remote areas to render service. Currently, GVT is seeking investors to help see the project through to completion.

Sir Torquil Norman says “[The] Feedback we have had so far from contacts in Africa and with aid agencies has been very positive. OX is about making a difference now, being part of something ground-breaking and unique. Most of all it presents a real opportunity to make a fundamental and lasting difference to people’s lives. 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 organizations and development programs. My dream is to one day see an OX in every village in Africa.”

Conclusion

2016 Global Vehicle Trust OX High Resolution Exterior
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The GVT OX is an interesting vehicle, to say the least. It combines an inexpensive cost, a compact shipping design, and easy assembly with a robust and utilitarian design with impressive off-road chops. Despite its lack of 4WD, the OX seems to be a completely capable vehicle in all but the absolute worst environments. But what it lacks on true off-road prowess, it more than makes up for in cost effectiveness and ease of use. And weighing only 3,500 pounds, a group of people with a couple ropes and pulleys could free the OX from mud or sand.

The OX is an ambitious project with an honest and human-centered focus designed to help those in need. Sir Norman’s noble cause will surely be recognized and will find the right donors to reach completion. And when it does, you’ll find the news right here at TopSpeed.com.

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The world’s first ‘flat-pack’ truck – the Global Vehicle Trust OX – has been revealed in London, designed to provide low-cost all-terrain mobility for remote parts of Africa and the developing world.

Across Africa and other developing world, there is intense need for improved transport, for both everyday living as well as emergencies. The OX has been designed specifically to tackle a host of transport challenges, and to undertake crucial daily tasks, such as collect drinking water and transporting grain, fertilizer or building materials. It is unlike any other vehicle and has no direct competitor – whether from a concept, performance or pricing point of view.

The OX originated from the vision of one man – Sir Torquil Norman. Five years ago, he founded the Global Vehicle Trust (GVT), to pursue his ambition to help people in the developing world by providing cost-effective mobility. The GVT subsequently briefed renowned automotive designer Professor Gordon Murray on a unique humanitarian programme to create a revolutionary lightweight truck.

The brief for the vehicle called for high ground clearance, excellent approach and departure angles, large wheel movement, a multi-purpose layout and a three-person cab. Gordon Murray’s design for the OX is nothing short of revolutionary, and the flat-pack format fundamentally changes the way a vehicle can be bought and transported, providing specific advantages to lead times and overall unit cost.

The OX has been designed to offer superb all-terrain ability, but it also has a huge and adaptable load carrying capability. The packaging is a key triumph of the OX project: the overall vehicle length is far shorter than a large SUV, and yet it can carry a payload of 1900kg (approximately twice the capacity of most current pick-ups) with a load volume of 7.0 m3. Based on EU size guidelines, it can seat up to 13 people or carry eight 44-gallon drums or three Euro-pallets.

Therefore, the OX not only addresses the problems with the roads; it also addresses the specific need to transport large volumes of goods and people at low cost.

The OX’s cabin provides spacious accommodation for three people, and the driver is seated centrally. This layout has specific advantages for the world’s developing countries, some of which have right-hand traffic, while others drive on the left of the road.

All-terrain ability is crucial for the developing world, and the OX has been engineered to perform as well as, or better than, a four-wheel drive vehicle across a range of surfaces, while offering durable mobility with two driven wheels.

The OX’s revolutionary nature extends beyond the vehicle design because, uniquely, it is capable of being flat-packed within itself, enabling it to be transported more efficiently around the world. It takes three people less than six hours to create the flat pack in the UK prior to shipping, and six of these flat packs can be shipped within a 40ft high-cube container. Assembly labour is transferred to the importing country, where local professional companies will be employed to assemble and maintain the finished vehicles. Three skilled people can put an OX together in approximately 12 hours.

Beyond its revolutionary packaging design and two-wheel-drive all-terrain ability, the OX is full of design innovations. For example, the tailgate does not merely contain the load in the back; it detaches completely from the OX and can be rotated lengthways to double as a loading ramp. The rear bench seat bases also have a dual purpose. The long ‘egg crate’ frames can be removed from the vehicle and used as ‘sand ladders’ under the wheels to help the OX traverse challenging soft ground.

Sir Torquil Norman said: “My inspiration for the OX goes back to seeing the ‘Africar’ project of the 1980s. This project shares some of the aims of that vehicle, but its execution is radically different. OX was just a dream six years ago, but it is now a realistic prospect for production with working prototypes that have completed a comprehensive testing programme.”

Professor Gordon Murray said: “The OX design and prototyping programme is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and challenging I have undertaken during my 45 years of car design, including my years in F1.

“The added challenge of a flat-packed vehicle design over the already tough targets for cost, durability and weight saving made for a fascinating and stimulating journey from concept to prototype.

“The most satisfying elements of the project for me are that the OX will make such a difference to so many people and that it has no competitor in any part of the world. It has been a privilege to work alongside Torquil to make his vision a reality.”

Driving the next stage of development

The global launch of the OX aims to highlight the need for investment and support in order to progress the project to completion. The Global Vehicle Trust believes that the OX project will attract a wide range of interest from potential backers.

Sir Torquil Norman said: “Feedback we have had so far from contacts in Africa and with aid agencies has been very positive. OX is about making a difference now, being part of something ground-breaking and unique. Most of all it presents a real opportunity to make a fundamental and lasting difference to people’s lives.

“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.”

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