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2009 Tomcar TM5 – Dirty Deeds

From Desert Dunes to Asphalt Jungles, the Tomcar Proves that Big Things Come in Small Packages

Photography By Henry Z. De Kuyper

Make: Tomcar
Model: TM5
Year: 2009
Engine: 1.4L Diesel
Drivetrain: 2WD
Wheelbase:101 inches

If at first blush you thought this was just another sandrail, dune buggy, or UTV, we regret to inform you that you couldn't be more wrong. While it could be used to haul coolers and ditzy girls while you're hanging out at Glamis listening to Crazy Town, bro, the Tomcar is a military-grade off-road vehicle that's the culmination of progressive engineering and practical accessorizing. In other words, when shit gets hairy in the field, the guys at Tomcar have anticipated the contingencies and designed the vehicle around them. While the Tomcar is available to the public, the TM5 model we're showing you is an example of one created as part of a fleet that was deployed in South Asia and outfitted with several non-standard features for that type of environment.

A major problem currently faced in designing a vehicle for combat is the IED threat. A vehicle is already a moving target, and while the obvious reaction to increase armor might make sense on paper, in battle conditions it's often proved to make vehicles larger and slower moving targets, which are obliged to run on predictable routes. The Tomcar's designers took a different approach creating a vehicle that is evasive, agile, and carries a very high payload for its size. It's hard (but not impossible) to hit a target that's small, quick, and can go off the map to avoid IEDs altogether. Initially conceived as an infantry mule, the Tomcar is resilient and powerful enough to carry men and supplies to the front line, and carry wounded out — something larger vehicles can't do in certain situations.

One of its most unique features is its frame. This is no bolt-together Erector Set deal. Over 300 pieces have been seamlessly welded together. Several different grades of steel are used throughout the frame's construction for increased durability at stress points. Lighter varieties are used in other areas to keep the overall weight down and maintain a low center of gravity for balance. The side steps that extend beyond the width of the cab also serve to protect occupants during a rollover.

With 15 inches of ground clearance and a standard 1,200-pound payload for the diesel engine (shown), the Tomcar TM5 is built to traverse rough terrain, especially when hauling a heavy load. An aircraft-grade, full-length aluminum skidplate under the belly helps prevent debris from slowing the momentum of the vehicle during travel.

The rear swing arms and longer-than-average chromoly A-arms in the front allow for 13 inches of suspension travel. You might be asking yourself, “Why chromoly? That's soft.” Exactly. It's meant to absorb any impact energy so you can keep going. A bent A-arm will help you GTFO. A broken one will leave you stranded. The final drive is part of the rear swing arm system, which allows for a greater degree of movement than a typical rear A-arm system — plus it's encased in a sealed oil bath.

One of the most vital occurrences in the field with vehicles is maintenance. Things break, but the Tomcar is meant to keep going even if they do. In combat situations, the less time spent making repairs, the more time you're in the fight. Ease of accessibility with Tomcar's components keeps downtime to a minimum. An exposed beltdrive, various symmetrical parts that can be interchanged on either side, and rebuildable parts where just the affected item can be replaced (rather than having to replace the entire unit), such as ball joints and coilover shocks, help keep driver and passengers on the road longer.

You've probably wondered what's powering the TM5. A four-stroke 1-liter four-cylinder gas engine or four-stroke 1.4-liter diesel engine is connected to a high-low transmission. You might think that's a weak combo, but remember, keeping things light is also what keeps this little devil quick and allows it to tow approximately 1,800 pounds.

The Tomcar is not four-wheel drive, which adds to its fuel economy, traction, and power-to-weight ratio. A locking differential that can be manually engaged acts as a positraction to turn both rear wheels to get out of tough spots or operate one wheel should there be a loss of power to the other. An optional second 7-gallon fuel tank is also available, doubling the range to 200-300 miles, depending on road conditions. Like the symmetrical components, these redundancies are meant to keep you moving. Four-wheel power assisted disk brakes are another feature that'll give you plenty of stopping power.

With a base price of around $20,000, we think you'll get a lot of bang for your buck with the Tomcar, as well as a long service life. It continues to see action in combat theaters rigged up for everything from an unmanned ground vehicle to a troop and supply transport. If NATO, the British Army, and Israeli Army see fit to add it to their arsenal, we think you'll be plenty satisfied with how well it performs in rough conditions, whether it's as a rugged commercial vehicle or a fun off-roader for vacations.

Fun Fact
The Brits use the TM5 in Afghanistan to pick up air-dropped 1-ton pallets by running the winch cable over the cab, hooking the load, and pulling it up a ramp into the bed.


Reinforced steel wheels with aftermarket tires for sand, mud, and snow (shown). Standard are aluminum wheels with 25×8-12 6-ply, front; 26×12-12 10-ply, rear.

Pro Sport HID 6-inch Driving Lights
MSRP: $547

Front Packs
Make: Cabela's
Model: Trail Tamer Gear Molded Fender Bag
MSRP: $45

Led Light Bar
Make: KC
Model: LZR LED – 40-inch Bar Combo Spot/Flood – Black – 240 watt
MSRP: $1,211

Side Packs
Make: CamelBak
Model: Squadbak
MSRP: $243

Four-point safety harnesses (standard).

Fuel Tank
Seven-gallon standard. Second tank with selector also available (same capacity).
MSRP: $1,100


Rear Shocks
Reinforced (shown). Dual coilover gas hydraulic shocks, with accumulator to keep shock oil cool to prevent fade (standard).

Beltdrive System
Standard. Easily accessible for maintenance.


Gun Mount
Make: Lone Star Field Products
Model: Spec Rest Quad Pod
MSRP: $650

Make: HK
Model: SP89 Clone with Gemtech Raptor suppressor
Caliber: 9mm


Cargo Box
66×53 inches

1.4L naturally aspirated four-cylinder diesel engine, liquid cooled.

Fully welded roll cage and frame.

Final Drive System
Double roller chains in oil bath encased in armored steel. Part of rear swing arm suspension system.


High-Low with reverse. To be shifted while at idle or stationary.

Differential Lock
Standard. Can be activated at any time while driving to turn both rear wheels.

Emergency Brake

Instrumentation and Steering
Speedometer, odometer, voltmeter, fuel, temperature. Rack and pinion steering, adjustable column.


This model no longer available as standard Tomcar option.
Make: Ramsey
Model: Honcho 5000
MSRP: $744


Side Cargo Boxes
Lockable compartments on either side of the vehicle.


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