Tomcar Fun

Tomcar: Anywhere and Back

Tomcars are not well-known vehicles, outside of specific niches (Side-by-Side enthusiasts know about them, and many tourist companies offer tomcar excursions). Certainly, they are not as well-known as a Yamaha Rhino, or Polaris RZR, for example.

One of the best places to read-up on these things is the official Tomcar website:  Without repeating the company's own website, some key points about the Tomcar are:
  • There are several different models.  The TM2 is a two-seater.  Mine, shown above, is the TM4.  There is also a TM5, which is a two-seater with a sort of 'pick-up' bed.  And it's my understanding that there is even a 1-seater that is not available in the US.
  • Tomcars are the result of 33 years of experience building this type of vehicle, primarily for use in a military application. This is an Israeli military vehicle, and only became available in a commercial setting after it was declassified. This is important because it means that the Tomcar is seriously over-engineered, based on the various military specs it needed to satisfy. In a nutshell, the Tomcar is a phenominally solid, well-built vehicle.
  • Tomcars are street-legal in all 50 States.
  • Tomcars have a wide stance: 70" wide. These things are very stable - they will not flip over.
  • Tomcars are the only Side-by-Sides on the market with a center-of-gravity below the driver's seat. Repeat: These things will not flip over.
  • Tomcars have an unmatched 15" of ground clearance, and 13.5" of wheel travel, on stock tires. I recently put some 26.5" Pit Bull Growler tires on my Tomcar and my ground clearance is now 16.5". To put this into perspective, consider:
    • The enormous Hummer H1 has 16 inches of ground clearance - much of which comes from the H1's standard 37" tires, and almost no wheel travel worth mentioning.
    • A stock Jeep Wrangler has 10.5" of ground clearance and also no real wheel travel worth mentioning.
    • The Yamaha Rhino advertises 12.1" ground clearance.
    • The Kawasaki Teryx advertises 11.2" of ground clearance (and with marketing hubris refers to this 11.2" ground clearance as "class leading."  Guess if they define "class" as any UTV made by Kawasaki, they are correct).
    • And I could go on.  There simply isn't anything out there with the stock Tomcar's ground clearance - and trust me, ground clearance and wheel travel matter!  Ground clearance makes the difference between a day of gliding over obstacles...or not.  And Tomcar pulls off this incredible ground clearance while maintaining a low center of gravity!
  • The Tomcar's chassis is a wonder.  The entire frame is one solid piece. It's all welded together into a single unit. There are no screws or bolts anywhere, holding the roll-cage together, for example. This structural integrity is unmatched by any other off-roading vehicle out there. And it is this overall build quality that really sets Tomcar apart.

Side-by-Side enthusiasts that are familiar with them either love them or hate them.

The 'hate' typically boils down to three primary points:
1) They are 2WD vehicles. Presumably, this means that there are places that only a 4WD can go, and therefore, tomcars can't get there.
2) They are slow.
3) They are expensive.

All three of these points have merit, however, I say:

1) I suspect this is true. One scenario that comes to mind is if the Tomcar were to get high-centered, and you need front wheels to help pull the car off of whatever it's stuck on. Another scenario would be extreme mud, where I suspect a 4WD vehicle would trump. However, I've taken this thing out and come to the conclusion that it can go anywhere I would ever want to go.  I've taken it on some intense trails - trails that, on several occassions, stopped (and broke) more 'traditional' 4WD SUVs and UTVs.  In fact, it's clear that the Tomcar is way more capable than I have guts to push it.

2) Yes - they are slow...on a straight road.  But driving down a road is not what one really wants to do in a Tomcar.  It is more than fast enough on trails. On average, Tomcars are 3-times as fast as a Jeep, because of the Tomcar's incredble suspension.  A trail that a Jeep would have to crawl down at 10 mph - the Tomcar can handle easily at 30mph +.  So, speed is all relative based on the application.

3) Not really.  Most people who claim the Tomcar is expensive are people that purchased a stock Yamaha Rhino, for example, and they are comparing the "out-the-door" price of the Tomcar to the Rhino.  However, for most people, that stock Rhino is unsuitable for the kind of riding they actually plan on doing.  They then:

  • Purchase the necessary components to make it street-legal.
  • Purchase a bench-seat to turn the two-seater Rhino into a 4 seater.
  • Purchase an after-market long-travel suspension so to overcome the Rhino's tendancy to flip over if turned at any kind of speed, or at any kind of angle.
  • Purchase an after-market roll-cage.
  • Purchase a plastic windshield (or half-windshield).

At this point, the Rhino has become more expensive than the Tomcar, and still can't match the Tomcar's build-quality, or overall quality of suspension. This is not to knock any other Side-by-Side, but to just present the counter-argument regarding the Tomcar's cost.

At the end of the day, the Tomcar is not a performance UTV. It's not going to win many drag races.  Nor is it a buggy suitable for the sand dunes.  But it's perfect for trail riding, it has plenty of room for a family of 4.  4 adults can even ride in it in comfort, with plenty of storage space for supplies for the trip.

I am simply convinced that nothing else out there matches the Tomcar's overall package of build quality, off-roading capability, safety, and rider room/comfort.

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