Namib Spider: The Kalahari Arachnid
Namibia’s four-legged freak of the tar road comes in the shape of the Namib Spider. Originally based on the Toyota Hilux, the sturdy Namib Spider is built to aptly tackle the dunes of the Kalahari, chart tourists through the Etosha pan, or even aid conservationists in their efforts to protect and care for animals such as cheetahs, the evasive black rhino, and the desert elephants. Built in Gobabis, approximately 200 kilometres east of Windhoek, the Spares Link team have their hands full churning out a Namib Spider every two to three months, the time it takes to built the Namibian arachnid from the chassis up. Over 200 vehicles have been built since 2006 when the project started. The man behind the project, Johan Human, leads a dedicated team of 30 professionals who built and customize variants of the Namib Spider to the specifications of the prospective owners. Speaking to Desmond Davids of Spares Link CC, the company that builds the Namib Spider, The Economist learnt that the Namib Spider is in fact, not based on the Uri, the first vehicle built in Namibia on a commercial scale. Davids added that the design of the Namib Spider did not borrow from the Uri and that it was a different project, with no involvement from the team that originally built the Uri. Said Davids, “This is an entirely different project from the Uri. We have not borrowed design elements emanating from the Uri and build our vehicles based on designs we have formulated ourselves.” According to Davids, the Namib Spider, like a true Transformer, can takes on various forms with the most elaborate project to date being a Jeep, which was re-built and is currently registered as a Namib Spider. Davids added that the majority of the vehicles built are based on various models of the Toyota Hilux, the Toyota Land Cruiser, and variants of the Isuzu KB. Davids added that a Mitsubishi Colt has also re-emerged as a Namib Spider saying “we have built over 200 vehicles since we commenced operations back in 2006.” These hand built models are fully customisable with no set standard for its design. Notable owners of the Namib Spider include amongst others; the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, as well as the University of Namibia. According to Davids, orders have even been received from Angola, and South Africa. Said Davids, “Some of our vehicles are currently being used by the South African Police Force.” Davids added, “The vehicle is built for on and offroad use and can be legally driven on national roads.
The cheapest you can expect to pay for the Namib Spider is N$135,000, inclusive of value added tax. The chassis alone will set you back approximately N$78,000 give or take. The vehicles are built in either automatic or manual transmission. Prospective owners are further able to choose which wheels the drive train will power. Fitted with the iconic Toyota Hilux 4Y engine, the Namib Spider belts out 70 kilowatts at 4400 revs per minute and 182 Nm at 3000 revs per minute. Not powerful enough, you’ll be glad to know that you can fit an engine in excess of 4000 cubic centimetres under the bonnet, provided the chassis is that of the legendary Toyota Land Cruiser.