*Is there a perfect vehicle for survival?*
By: BigRed
01 March 2004

Is there a perfect vehicle for survival? To find out, we have to define survival first. Are we readying a vehicle for apocalyptic nuclear winter? How about a world war situation? For these kinds of scenarios I would like to have an armored car, anything else would seem unprotected. But an armored vehicle would draw a lot of attention. People who are just trying to survive don't need lots of attention. Anyone with less than you might just want what you have. No matter how bad you are, somebody is always "badder".

So let's say that survival is just that, surviving. To me, survival is everyday. If I lay down at night, my family is fed, the roof is over our heads, and Iíve said my thanks to God, I am currently surviving. My perfect vehicle is one that starts most of the time and is easy to fix when it doesn't. It is one that is simple and straightforward, frugal and dependable. One that is roomy enough for us and enough gear and goodies to make any drive to anywhere possible. And, of course, it must house a few surprises "just in case".

What good are a strong V-8, four wheel drive and 60 gallons of fuel on board if the solid-state ignition module fails halfway to work one morning? Or worse yet, when a loved one needs medical attention, or if you prefer, "when the balloon goes up!" New vehicles with sophisticated electronics certainly are the overall winners in the dependability game, at least from their point of view. They tout "100,000 miles without a tune-up, self-adjusting valves, no service transmissions" and other eye-grabbing promises. Some, if not all of these things are true, at least from their point of view. I have seen vehicles of this type towed into our shop, not running because of a blown fuse. As my hero Scotty said to Captain Kirk, "the more sophisticated the plumbing, the simpler it is to stop up."

I am a professional mechanic by trade. As such, I have a great deal of money invested in tools and equipment. Some of these tools are the same ones you have, or should if you don't. Some are so sophisticated they would give the best computer hacker a sweat to use. These are the tools that we would need to repair these "technological wonders." These are the tools that are not carried in a tool kit in the trunk of your survival vehicle. I can splice a wire, file a set of points or tape a cracked distributor cap and get myself home, but all of my 20 years of experience and ASE certifications don't give me the ability to repair or manufacture a solid-state ignition module on site. Even if I am at my shop the vehicle sits until I get one from my parts supplier.

So let's start our survival vehicle by eliminating what it should not be. No sophisticated electronics. No electronics at all. If for no other reason, let's say EMP. Do you want to keep your Buick in a faraday box until you need it? Fuel infection (injection) is a no-no. An old VW will run on almost rancid gas, but one small particle of dirt will clog an injector beyond repair. Power seats, doors and windows are potential problems as well. It's raining and it is cold. Your little girl has the flu and tonight you're sleeping in your vehicle. That damn power window will not go up. See my point? Ever hear of K.I.S.S. ? Let's keep it simple.

Now we know we need an old relic. Old, yes relicÖ let everyone who sees it think so. I truly think discretion is the better part of valor. A true survivor uses camouflage as their best weapon. The only person who would want an old junker is one who is walking, and even an old junker outruns a human on foot. Don't make your vehicle into an eyesore, just run of the mill. There are good and bad arguments for all the options. You know what you need. Buy your base platform and get started. Just keep it simple. Murphy exists everywhere and comes to the surface at the worst time. Carbureted engine, points distributor, alternator with mechanical external voltage regulator, power steering and air conditioning if you must. Thatís all folks.

Allow me a platform if you will. Many great mechanics will argue with my next point. I would prefer an AUTOMATIC transmission in my survival vehicle. I will explain in detail in later articles, but for now, try this. You are out foraging for whatever and you fall and break your ankle. You crawl back to your rig and get in. Your clutch pedal has to go down to take off, oops; you broke your LEFT ankle. Rewind and crawl to your rig. You get in, start, put the Automatic in gear and you're off. I say give me a platform because I build transmissions. A good rebuilder will build you an automatic that you can depend on, trust me.

Time for the recap. Simple, roomy, a few surprises. The start of a good survival vehicle. If this must be your everyday car, it will be a good one. If you can afford it for a second car, so much the better. These "oldies" litter papers and bulletin boards all across America. Roll up your sleeves and get started. As a prepared person, you might spend 500$ on a _______ (insert your own thing), without even thinking. For that much or less, you can start your survival vehicle.

I know, I know, mechanics are thieves. You can't afford to have one rebuild a dependable vehicle for you. My Fellow Rubies, good, solid easy to understand repair manuals are all over used bookstores. You can do it yourself. Even difficult repair/rebuild jobs can be tackled with determination, rented tools and a little help. Through this series of articles I will do my best to help you.

You can buy food, guns and bury your house. You can live by yourself till you die. That's not my idea of surviving. Learn to take care of and fend for yourself. If the 2004 double throw-down Gee Whiz won't start Monday, relax; call the tow truck to take it in for warranty work. Jump in your survival vehicle and smile!!

In this series of articles, I will give you my take on a BOV. It will not be the do all end all. EMP, lack of this or that, or whatever comes up may allow or stop any of our ideas from working. All we can do is try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Iíve done a lot of reading so far on the Rubicon and it bears out that all of us want the same thing, to do the best we can do for ourselves and for those whom we love. Warlord is tough, but he just wants us to be ready. To just help each other. This is my little addition. I hope it helps.

Next up will be what kind of BOV to choose and how to make it a little better. Donít be discouraged, I am mostly so broke I canít even pay attention, so I am not going to be doing any high dollar stuff. With some old fashioned elbow grease and a little redneck engineering, weíll get by. If you already have a BOV, maybe some of this can be added to yours to make it better. If you donít have one yet, this might just light a fire under your backside to make yourself one.

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