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Finding the Best 4x4s for the Apocalypse

Survive in one of these or die in something else.

The apocalypse, rumor, actual evidence, and fear of both, leading to the end of the world as we know it, is everywhere. From sci-fi zombie movies, repent-or-die tales from every major religion, nuclear winter, geologists warning about the caldera under Yellowstone—people are clearly constantly thinking about the proverbial poop hitting the fan. From EMPs to new viruses that could kill millions, being prepared may not be that bad of an idea. You can be sure that those of us here at the Four Wheeler Network have opinions on what vehicles would be the best to have in your stable when the end is near, and you can bet they'd all be four-wheel-drive.

The Doomsday Vehicle You Know

The point of this article is to make a few vehicular recommendations for the apocalypse, and we will include some of the details on what criteria are important when all you have to rely on is yourself, you wits, and your survival kit. One thing that we would like to point out is that the best 4x4 for you to survive with might just be the one that you are most comfortable with. One you can fix when it breaks if you're lucky and skilled enough to last that long. So if you're an old Jeep guy, stick to that; if you've rebuilt five gen III-IV LS motors over the years for various projects, head for a GM-based 4x4 truck or SUV from 1999-2007. Pick one, and add some survival kit.

Simplicity Is Apocalyptic Bliss

Keeping things simple makes a ton of sense in a survival scenario. Anything that is overcomplex that must be relied upon to work is a liability. We'd aim for a vehicle that runs well on-road and off. We're thinking Cars with MotorCraft 2100 carburetors, or Quadrajets. Both of these carbs are rebuildable if you know what you are doing, and they run well while crawling off-road or over rubble from the destruction of the modern world. And a Points ignition might be a pain to adjust, but when it works, it works, and with a new condenser and a new set of points, it should be ready to fire despite EMPs. From there, without the electrical interference, GM TBI and HEI are both pretty well dialed and reliable.

Computers Bad

If your apocalypse vehicle relies on multiple computers to function (like any 4x4 built in about the past 8 to 10 years), your goose may be cooked more rapidly than you might think. You want analog functionality or at most to rely on relatively simple and common computer systems.

Our 1998 Dodge Diesel 2500 4x4 has a 12-valve Cummins engine. It does have at least one computer, but we've found out that it doesn't need it to run; the computer just runs the gauges, A/C, alternator, and so on.

Diesel Lasts a Bit Longer Than Gasoline Without Stabilizers

One problem with the apocalypse is that fuel doesn't last terribly long while in storage, and realistic storage times depend on what fuel you are storing and what conditions it is being stored under. A person could write a book. According to our research, diesel will last 6 to 12 months without treatment, and gasoline is good for about 3 to 5 months and up to a year with stabilizer. Now, we've heard rumors of these fuels lasting much longer and even that properly stored and treated diesel can last 10 to 12 years. Ideal storage conditions for diesel are to keep it at about 70 degrees and to add stabilizers and biocide to keep bacteria growth to a minimum. Also of importance to fuel storage is preventing large volumes of air in the tank, which can cause condensation, oxidation, and/or settling of some of the fuel's components into solids. So you want your fuel stores to be full and treated, you'll have to periodically retreat the fuel and may have to filter it to remove solids and water. Biodiesel doesn't store well either, but it is, hypothetically, more renewable if some sort of society continues. Sounds like a lot of work, huh?

Fuel Economy Might Just Matter in the Apocalypse

Burning a ton of fuel during the apocalypse just doesn't make sense. You'll probably have to work hard to get the stuff, so you don't want to waste it. There are several efficient, albeit underpowered 4x4s to choose from. It may be hard to beat an old Toyota with a 22R or 22RE in this respect.

Rockcrawlers Might Be the Best Apocalypse 4x4s

Winch? Check. Lockers? Check. Body armor? Check. Durability? Definitely. Other than generally having an open top that won't we be good for keeping zombies out, or during a nuclear winter, rockcrawlers are capable and functional, especially in a world where bridges could be out or road blocks could be up.

Army Surplus Trucks and Ex-Cop SUVs for Survival

There is a reason the army, police, and fire departments use the vehicles they do. Plus they've probably been maintained on some sort of a schedule. Military 4x4s have to be durable and relatively easy to maintain or repair in the field. The diesels that the military has used since the '60s seem to run on just about any fluid that approaches flammable. Cop cars generally have dual batteries, high amp alternators, auxiliary transmission coolers, and limited-slip differentials.