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Ultimate Zombie Apocalypse Rig? MRAP From Fear The Walking Dead

Posted in Features on August 24, 2018
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Photographers: AMC Network

When people talk about the grisly scenario of a post-apocalyptic world overrun with flesh-seeking zombies, discussions often center on what would be the ultimate zombie survival vehicle. It’s gotta be strong, durable, capable, foolproof, and, at the very least, a 4x4. So how about an up-armored 6x6 with onboard machine guns, food, and survival gear? Bring out yer dead, baby.

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead series (Sundays 9/8c) takes viewers into the sobering world where civilized infrastructure has mostly collapsed. Characters face threats daily from both zombies and other humans who are trying to scratch out a meager life in the horrifying new world. In the current season we are introduced to Althea, an aspiring journalist in Texas, who is trying to document personal experiences under the toughest of circumstances. Coincidentally, her mode of transportation is an armored SWAT vehicle that, in the story, was previously owned by the Bexar County Sheriff's Office before being found by her. Packed inside the armored truck are foodstuffs (especially ramen noodles), supplies, weaponry, and other gear.

But that’s all fantasy. What’s reality is this particular behemoth started life as a 2012 BAE Systems Caiman MRAP (Mine Resistant Armor Protected) Category II vehicle. Before being sold to the public, it was demilitarized, which included removal of the armored body. AMC commissioned builders Nathaniel Smith and Billy Myers, both from Georgia, to turn the surplus rig into a showstopper. The team started with the chassis then scratch-built a new body from 1/4-inch-thick steel plate that is visually similar to the original. Up top you will see an added structure. It's actually a machine gun nest with guns that Althea can control from the driver seat. Spare fuel and water cans also sit atop the cabin of this battle-worn truck.

When faced with the end of the world, a fortified, off-road 6x6 may offer the ticket to your survival. Thirty tons of rolling mass can build a lot of zombie-crushing momentum, and huge tires can trample a lot of bodies. Despite its size and heft, Althea warns not to get too many zombies caught up in the wheelwells, as you may never get them out. Expect lots of decaying flesh and guts splattered all over, but it should buff out.

Tune in to the latest Fear the Walking Dead episode here to see this sucker in action. And catch up on the whole series and future episodes at AMC’s page.

If you could look inside the cab you would spot a tilt gauge on the dash, flanked by a hula dancer with a rifle in her hands. We like a bit more visibility from the cab when running trails, but security trumps many other desires in this scenario.
Most of the survivors in the show tend to scavenge commonly available sedans, pickups, and occasionally commercial box trucks. Piloting an armored rig means having space, security, and a protected place to sleep. However, we're sure it's a thirsty drinker of scarce fuel.
Up front sits a Warn 24-volt, 18,000-pound winch, although a rear-mounted winch may have been useful, too, considering that in one episode the truck gets stuck at the bottom of an embankment with no way forward. There are serious recovery points on the front and rear of the Caiman.
With a hefty curb weight exceeding 60,000 pounds, a Caiman can climb an impressive maximum grade of 60 percent or traverse side slopes as steep as 30 percent. It comes equipped with a CTIS (central tire inflation system), but we’re not really sure what ideal tire pressure you'd need for crossing a sea of rotting zombie carcasses.
There’s nothing like an onboard wire-feed welder when you need to do a trail repair or fabricate some other security apparatus.
Althea can pull a lever in the cab of the truck and a dumbbell weight on top of the cabin drops, flipping a door open to expose a pair of M249 SAW paratrooper machine guns. From the driver's seat she can rain down 5.56mm rounds at her discretion.
The project started with a purchased chassis as shown here. Caiman cab and chassis rigs are available for sale in the U.S. from several surplus sellers. The wheelbase sits at a long 161 inches with approach and departure angles of 42 and 44 degrees, respectively.
The builders began by constructing a steel tube frame on top of the chassis. The cabin was constructed from 1/4-inch-thick steel plate and is not armored. Smith and Meyers have actually built two of these trucks for Fear the Walking Dead. Watch new episodes Sundays 9/8c on AMC.

About the BAE Caiman MRAP

The Caiman MRAP was designed to transport U.S. troops and protect them from the various dangers of exploding ordinance in hostile zones across the globe. The powerplant is a Caterpillar C9 six-cylinder turbodiesel putting out about 450 hp and an estimated 1,500 lb-ft of torque. The fulltime all-wheel-drive 6x6 chassis uses a six-speed automatic transmission. A torque biasing differential splits power between the front and rear axles as needed during normal or off-road operation.

The axles have an overall gear ratio of 6.18:1 with planetary gear reduction at the wheel ends. DCDL (driver-controlled differential locks) units are inside the differentials. The suspension rides on dual-rate coil springs. Traction comes from Goodyear MTV 395/85R20 MV/T treads that sit nearly 47 inches tall.

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