This article was originally published by Charl M on askaprepper.com
First I will define my own categories of SHTF vehicles, and then recommend a manufacturer and model of vehicles that I believe can handle an EMP.
After that, I will delve into some of the “Why’s” in a bit more detail.
This is just my way of thinking about the purpose of SHTF-EMP vehicles. I define the categories according to what your needs are, and which vehicles will suit those needs best.
My categories are:
- General Workhorses
- Long Distance People Movers
- Specialist Climbers
- Speed Freaks
- Hardcore Tactical SHTF Vehicles
This is the kind of vehicle you want to be parked outside your house with the keys on the kitchen table. It’s ready all the time and is a good general-purpose vehicle.
They can handle passengers and large loads with ease. Spares are readily available and anyone with some mechanical sense can fix it if needed.
-> Ford F100 & F250 Range of Pick-Up Trucks
These iconic trucks are available in a wide range of models and variants. Choose a model before 1979. You should have no trouble finding a diesel.
There are thousands of these old workhorses rusting away in backyards and barns, so scavenging for parts will be an option in the long run.
If you need some extra space, get a crew-cab or double-cab model so you can transport people along with goods. Putting a camper shell on the back will instantly turn this into a home away from home.
Long Distance People Movers
Vehicles in this category are intended to move people and their belongings long distances in relative comfort. They are mostly available in gasoline models and are not economical when it comes to fuel consumption.
I have opted for those that are widely regarded as reliable and easy to fix.
One of the criteria is the ability to transport at least 6 people, along with their luggage, food provisions, and camping equipment.
-> Ford Country Squire and Chevrolet Impala Station Wagons
I once listened to an interview with an ex-CIA field operative. One of the questions posed to him was: What kind of car do you have standing in your garage?
Low-and-behold, there was a 1978 Chevy Impala. The presenter made fun, asking the question: “Why would you have such an old piece of [email protected] ?”
Clearly, the interviewer knows very little about going off-grid. And the ex-CIA guy, well he definitely knows a thing or two.
Once again, opt for models before 1980.
These vehicles were built back in the day when cars were solid steel and highly reliable. They are on the heavy side and don’t handle as nimble around corners or inside parking lots as their modern counterparts. They can handle dirt roads and most backcountry tracks but are not suited to off-roading or high-speed getaways.
Vehicles in this category are made to go up the sides of mountains, climb over rocks, and maneuver in tight spots
To accomplish this, they need a short wheelbase, high ground clearance, steep approach angle, and low center of gravity.
Because soft suspensions are a drawback on steep slopes, climbers have hard suspensions. Making them uncomfortable on dirt roads and they tend to get jumpy when you are going fast.
They are not designed to carry a lot of people or goods.
-> Jeep CJ 5, Landrover Defender 90, and Landcruiser FJ 40
The Jeep CJ 5 and Toyota FJ 40 are both based on the design of the legendary Willy’s Jeep design. If you live in a mountainous area and want a top-rated climber, this is your best option.
They have a short wheelbase and handle superbly in tight conditions.
The Landrover Defender 90 came onto the market in 1983. Before that, they were only known as the Landrover 90. Once again , opt for the older models.
Diesel models shouldn’t be hard to come by, but the Landrovers were not as popular in the US as elsewhere in the world, so they are somewhat of a rarity.
Fitted with a hard shell and electric winch, you could cut over almost any terrain and would not need to follow roads to get to your destination. But be ready for a bumpy ride.
Related: Alternative Bug-Out Vehicles
Cars that are built for speed have features that don’t always make for good “rough terrain” driving. First of all, the suspension is very hard. This is good for tarmac at high speeds but can be deadly on dirt roads at high speeds.
The models mentioned below are for high-speed tarmac driving. In SHTF conditions, this could be difficult, given possible road congestion and general chaos. But should you have “the need for speed”, the following models will have you covered.
-> Dodge Charger & Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Ever since Buddy Parker reached 200mph in his Dodge Charger in the 1970s, have these legendary muscle cars been one of my personal favorites?
You don’t need to go that fast, in fact, I would recommend against it. But, if you foresee that you will need speed in an SHTF world and want to drive a car that won’t be stopped by an EMP, this is the perfect high-speed vehicle.
Another great option for reliable speed from a purely mechanical muscle car is the Firebird Trans Am. A favorite in movies and on cop shows, the Trans Am defined a generation.
This is the best option if you want to look seriously cool while outrunning the bad guys.
Harcore Tactical Vehicles
This category is for those who want to invest in specialist SHTF vehicles. My suggestion may come as a surprise, but I do believe the Mil-Spec these models carry indicates that some thought has gone into all aspects of these vehicles, from suspension strength to serviceability to the battery placement under the hood.
When seconds count or the ability to handle unexpected hard knocks could mean the difference between life and death, vehicles that have been purpose-built for tough situations may just carry the day.
-> Chevrolet K30 (D30) CUCV
This is my favorite. Also known as the Chevrolet Military Truck. The 1970s models were issues with some big and powerful diesel engines.
These are ultra-reliable vehicles and have been manufactured for military forces the world over.
In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with one of these. They are, however, not small and nimble, and are decidedly heavy on fuel compared to some other models.
General Motors have been manufacturing these for the military and there are many in service, particularly amongst the European Forces.
By the time you are ready to kit one of these out for SHTF-EMP readiness, your journey to prepping-level “Black Belt”, is complete.
Criteria for Models Chosen
Concerning the models outlined above, my recommendation has consistently been for models built before the 1980s. That’s because cars that have zero electronics will be best. This includes most MUCH older vehicles.
Some commentators say that you could buy any car built before 1980. I don’t know all cars and models made before the 1980’s so I can’t confirm that. But, for peace of mind, I would recommend the following:
- No electronic ignitions.
- No electronic fuel injection of fuel pump systems.
- No electronic control components for windows, turning signals, or lights.
- No electronic components on your alternator or battery charging system.
I am sure that there are many vehicles built after 1980 that would also meet these criteria. The best would be to ask. You want NO electronics anywhere! But what does this mean?
Electronics VS Electrical
Since electronics are more vulnerable than the electrical system, I think it might be useful to differentiate between the two types of systems.
Electrical devices use electricity as an energy source. For instance:
- Electrical current flows through the filament and the light glows.
- Electrical current flows through the windings of a motor and it turns.
- For these devices, flowing electricity causes them to work.
Electronic devices manipulate electricity through the use of switches. Computer CPUs are good examples, but so are basic ICs, or integrated circuits. They can be very simple and run logic controllers on coffee machines, where they perform 10 operations based on a few inputs.
All electronic and electrical devices can be affected by an EMP. But the electrical system will recover immediately. Whereas electronics can be wiped out and rendered useless due to damage to the switches.
Related: What To Add In An EMP Survival Kit
Diesel VS Gasoline
Even though I am a gasoline man myself, I consider diesel engine’s to be better for SHTF and consequently EMP strikes.
This is because diesel motors have the least electrical requirements. Apart from the glow plugs that heat the diesel before injection, the entire system is mechanical, including the diesel pump.
Gasoline motors have more extensive electrical requirements, ranging from electric fuel pumps to electric ignition systems for creating sparks to ignite the fuel.
The Final Word
So there you have it guys. My recommendations and why I think they are good options. I know many older vehicles have issues like parts availability and general wear and tear that eventually takes its toll.
But this article aims to equip you with a vehicle that could take an EMP hit while driving and continue on unphased. In the case of some of the gasoline models, this may require a restart, but at least you won’t be stranded.