Did you want six wheels or eight?
Story and Photos | Mark Hamerton
Not too long ago most folks knew what an ARGO was, but it hadn’t appeared to have changed much since the 1970’s when it was the sole survivor of the 60 some companies making these type of vehicles. In 2014 ARGO and its parent company, Ontario Drive Gear (ODG) were purchased by an investors group and some new blood and vigor was introduced into the company. The culmination of a year’s reworking of the company branding and range of target markets was introduced to the media during a weeklong expo in August of 2015.
The Expo was a classy, well organized event that had us impressed before we even saw any new products. We learned about ARGO’s diverse line of purposebuilt extreme vehicle solutions for numerous market segments, and a commitment to expand in to the area of accessible off road vehicles for the disabled.
The outdoor arena for the Expo surrounded a small pond, with a massive stage at one side and bleachers on the other. The two small wooden structures sitting beside a hydro pole with guy wires made us curious as to what we were about to experience.
When all was said and done, it was a pretty amazing demonstration. Probably gory. The 6x6 ARGO Scout with its Mossy Oak Break Up In.nity Camo pattern on top, upgraded seat cushions with the ARGO logo embossed on the front seats is perfect for the outdoorsman.
The Scout is designed for serious hunters looking to explore remote hunting grounds and includes a number of useful features as standard equipment:
• Upgraded seat cushions as well as a front seat backrest pad
• 2position, fold down rack for extra cargo storage
• Removable hood rack capable of carrying cargo and small game out of the bush
• Enhanced front brushguard provides protection, absorbing impacts from offroad hazards such as brush, branches and more
• Entry steps to assist in vehicle entry and exit when outfitted with gear, backpack and guns
• USB power outlet for charging phones, playing digital media and utilizing GPS units
• Enhanced lighting package featuring dual high powered floodlights
• Interior lighting package to illuminate front driving area and vehicle console
• Bilge pump
• WARN power winch
The Outfitter expands on the wilderness theme with 8 wheel drive and off the following additional features:
• Angle mounted four gun Sure Grip gun rack to ensure the safe transportation of weapons to the best
• Dual rear entry steps
• Heated hand grips for both passenger and driver for those longer days out in the bush
• Dual high powered front LED headlamps and a floodlight
• 12inch handrails for extra cargo storage
• Dual bilge pumps
THE DUCK MASTER
In addition to most of the standard features of the ARGO Outfitter model, the Duck Master with its muted sand tone, includes an innovative fold down back door allowing easy access for dogs and passengers. Billed as The Ultimate Waterfowl Hunting Machine, waterfowlers can get in and out of their blinds in comfort and undetected. ARGO also recently partnered with Willie and Jase of Duck Commander fame to further refine its Duck Master model.
NEW NICHE MARKETS
Argo has also moved aggressively into niche markets for work applications and these new models were put through their paces. First up were the Lineman Series, built to meet the requirements of utility workers and the harsh terrain they must traverse to reach their job sites. Students from the nearby college in full safety gear demonstrated how the ARGO would be used to winch a hydro transformer off the pole and down to the ground where it would be swapped for a new one. The Lineman XT is equipped with a roof for the occupants, plenty of storage, and a powerful 750 HDI engine, making it a full featured unit that can go anywhere.
The First Responder series was quite unique, available with various stretcher attachments or .re.ghting gear, including high pressure water pumps. With the capabilities of the ARGO to reach hard to get to destinations it is easy to see where this would be a solution for many EMS services.
The Explorer series, designed for miners, environmental surveyors, and oil and gas workers, are outfitted with fully enclosed cabins, rugged tool and storage boxes and a set of tracks for allweather travels.
The Military Series models were, of course, very cool with their custom adjustable seats and gun mounts. With optional olive drab soft tops these units look like they are ready for battle.
And there was more… We were dazzled with the lineup of robotic remote control models, including a 4x4 model outfitted with a high powered firehose allowing firefighters to remain at a safe distance while effectively controlling flames. To prove the point the small wooden buildings were set on .re and the remote vehicle was wheeled in and doused the flames with its powerful water jet: quite a sight to see. The robot models kept coming, including a full sized 6x6 ARGO with nothing on top but a .at deck, suitable for carrying, well, anything.
ARGO still produces its base model 6x6 and 8x8, which have seen a number of upgrades over the years. One unique model that we actually got a chance to drive was the “LiteSpeed”. With a new triple differential the LiteSpeed actually slows down one side using the differential to steer rather than using the brakes. This results in superior control and the ability to exceed 40km per hour without feeling out of control. The new technology breaks a barrier for the ARGO, as the existing models do have trouble keeping up with the ATVs and Side by Sides.
Following the barrage of new products we were given a comprehensive tour of the factory. The specially designed transmissions that allow the multiwheeled vehicles to steer are made next door in the ODG building by the same company. Upper and lower bodies are molded right on site and at the end of the line the units are subjected to a vigorous drive test and a 600 point inspection.
Based on this presentation, ARGO is working hard to elevate themselves to be a front line solution for industry as well as recreation. To our knowledge, they remain the only vehicle that will get you in to those hard to reach remote places and offer a stable platform to secure whatever your application requires. Work or play, the ARGO will get you through to the end of the day! •
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