'Dad, can I borrow the KiraVan, please?'
Most little four-year-old girls, when asked what their perfect present is, might say a pony, or a doll's house, or maybe some arts and crafts stuff so they can make their own kiddie jewellery and so on. Ok, ok, Peppa Pig or Dora or a Frozen costume might come into the equation too.
What they're unlikely to ask for, however, is a Unimog-derived monster truck with all-terrain ability that looks like a James Bond villain's moving lair.
Still, American Bran Ferrern has built just such a beast for his daughter Kira, and in her honour he's named this 52-foot-long, 23,450kg goliath the KiraVan; the world's ultimate adventure truck.
Based on Mercedes-Benz's effervescent Unimog utility vehicle (Bran has previous in this area: do a Google search on 'Maximog'), the KiraVan is powered by a 260hp diesel engine, which (if it's the 906 unit) has a massive 949Nm of torque to back it up.
Useful, as although the KiraVan can cover over 3,200 kilometres on flat terrain between refills due to its mammoth 170-gallon heated and cooled fuel tanks, it can also climb 45-degree slopes, which a human would struggle to walk up.
It boasts full living accommodation (including a kitchen) in its fully insulated trailer, multiple high-grade communications systems to ensure it never gets isolated, night vision and HD vision imaging cameras on retractable masts, 46-inch military grade tyres that weigh 181kg each. It can also deploy snow chains on the move, a diesel-powered motorbike for roving expeditions, drones that can be launched to scout out the terrain ahead and the sort of cockpit that wouldn't look amiss on Space Shuttle Discovery.
Oh, and Kira's electronic chair is designed to move in a rhythm that cancels out bumps, so she can carry on colouring with her crayons while the KiraVan is crossing landscapes that would make a tank think twice.
The KiraVan has been designed to go practically anywhere on Earth, no matter the topography, so that Kira can see the world. At a total cost running 'into the millions of dollars', it's one hell of a present for a four-year-old. She probably only wanted a Despicable Me minion doll...Images: Art Streiber for Wired Magazine and Bren Ferren - full story