The Arrol-Johnston in action hauling stores on
a suitable surface. The car was brought as deck cargo in a crate
on the Nimrod's deck, five ponies and some stores had to left behind
as there was no more room on the ship.
The car was first tried when it was clear that the
Nimrod could not get as close to Hut Point (the chosen spot for a base)
as was hoped. The car was lifted over the side of the ship, placed on
the ice and a layer of protective grease removed, the mechanic Bernard
Day started the engine. The car was standing on the sea ice which was
covered in about 8 inches of loose snow. In the words of an observer:
"The wheels in duty turned violently
round ... burying themselves to such an extent that the car moved not
A few hours later the car was hoisted aboard again,
motor transport in Antarctica had not got off to a good start. The car
was effectively disregarded as far as transport over snow was concerned.
Eventually the car was used to some moderate effect
as seen in the picture above, but the wheels meant that it could only
run on hard smooth surfaces which are not so common in Antarctica. Usually
it was used as far as possible until the wheels became stuck in snow
at which point the men would resort to man hauling the sledge while
the car driven by Day went back to the base or ship again.
Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922)
British Imperial Antarctic Expedition "Nimrod - Expedition",
Picture courtesy NOAA