What makes a good bug-out vehicle?

Discussion in 'Survival Zone' started by stonebridge, Apr 25, 2009.

  1. Hey guys,

    I'm sure we all have envisioned the perfect bug-out vehicle. Mine's a black 4x4 with copious amounts of diamond plate, brush guards, overhead lights, perhaps a mini-gun or two...

    Anyway, the reality is my fleet of vehicles consists of two Subaru Imprezas; hers is a front-wheel drive and mine is AWD. It gets me where I need to go and handles highways, dirt roads, and some of the nastier back roads and country paths equally well.

    She wants a new grocery-getter and is looking at a 2000 Durango for $3800 which fits our current budget.

    Any potential vehicle purchase has to make it past the Gut-test. Meaning, do I feel that the vehicle in question could perform in its most serious potential role: the means by which I get and keep my family out of a bad situation.

    First off, as much as I want a Hummer with a SAW on top, the truth of the matter is ALL vehicles are BOVs but some are obviously better suited for it than others.

    Two issues are currently on my radar:

    1. If we decide to purchase another vehicle, what kind would make the best platform for a good BOV?

    2. What can I do to the Impreza I already own to make it a better BOV?

    *It occurs to me that perhaps SHTFV should be substituted for BOV... I'm not necessarily pulling up stakes and going anywhere but I sure as heck want to get back home whan the poo hits and want my options open after that point.

    So... what makes for a good SHTFV?

    Here is my prioritized list, add/reorder as you see fit for your needs and we'll discuss:

    Affordable purchase price
    Acceptable range on tank of fuel/good mileage
    Prefer automatic transmission
    Fit 4 passengers comfortably
    Room for storage
    A lack of automation - no power windows/locks/security system
    Solid aftermarket support
    Decent ground-clearance (although I'm no fan of lift-kits)

    Additional lighting - HID fog lights fore and aft
    Power inverter
    full-size spare
    ability to pull small trailer
    roof cargo rack
    flexible seating (fold-down back seats)
    upgraded suspension

    Obviously this list doesn't touch on the bug-out gear, tools, supplies that should be a part of everyone's vehicle.

    So what do you guys think? What should I be looking for in a vehicle purchase? What should I be doing to upgrade my 98 Impreza? What do you guys wish you could have as a BOV or upgrade on the one you do have?

    Discuss please.

  2. Rhodes

    Rhodes Member

    White Ford F150 with a variety of magnetic door signs that can be changed to what ever in a couple of seconds. You would be surprised how quickly certain logos get you where you need to go. Most common Truck and color in the US dam near invisible. Lots of places to hide small items. Just dont forget to take the NRA sticker off the window... :embarrassed2:

  3. DUWK. Needed for bridge out situation.

    FWIW, 70's survival wisdom was that there was no way that someone form a population center was going to get to one area. Some suggested getting rid of the bridges.

    IMO, one either is where they'd like to be before hand things get bad or stay put.

    Disclaimer, many different survival situations. The details of all possible can't be planned for.

    ...changed can to can't in the disclaimer
  4. i'm anxious to see where this thread runs... a favoite pondering point of mine. :eat:
  5. I live in Vegas and have 2 directions to go: SouthEast into Arizona (across the Colorado River) or North to an area where I have friends. Unless I get out early, when the type of vehicle doesn't matter, I won't be getting out of here; there's just too many people. If I don't get out early, I'm bugging in because that makes much more sense than being one of many on the road. However, to answer your question, In a perfect world I'd have this:
  6. Rhodes

    Rhodes Member

  7. Some additional points to ponder from a guy who makes (barely!) a living working on vehicles:

    1: Most vehicles starting in the early 90s went to complete computer control of all things engine and transmission. A loose connection or even a blown fuse and you're dead on the road. Lots of sensors too, some like the oxygen sensors fail with great regularity resulting in a poor running engine at best, undriveable at worst. As you get newer it gets even worse, more and more stuff has it's own little controller. Newest thing is called CAN, or Controller Area Network. No longer is the wiper switch direct wired to the wiper motor. Now, the switch is put in the low wipe position, it sends a data packet out over the internal vehicle computer network, and the wiper motor receives this signal and turns on. Major problem is all the other stuff, including engine and tranny control signals use this same network. Get a glitching component injecting noise onto the network or even a short to power or ground on the data line, what happens? You need a $3,000 scantool just to determine what is wrong, with $800 yearly software updates.

    2: Carbs and self contained ignitions like the GM HEI are fixable in the field with basic hand tools and a minimum of spare parts. Provide a 70s or 80s Chevy truck with gas in the fuel line and power to the HEI and it will run. A non-running 2005 may take days to find the problem at a dealership!

    3: Different areas have different brands that are popular. Southern Kali, for instance, has a Japanese auto dealer on every street corner it seems, yet here in Indiana you have to go to the 4 or 5 largest cities to find one. Parts for the Big 3 are everywhere here, even if you have to barter for a used one off a junker in somebody's backyard. In Kali, Toyotas might be an easier parts situation.

    4: Are you planning for this vehicle to last through several years of SHTF? You're going to be doing your own repairs as needed, so make sure you understand what everything under the hood does. If it's just to go from point A to point B you can get by with about anything that isn't constantly breaking down.

    5: Get an aftermarket Trans cooler. Heat destroys a transmission. Towing increases heat considerably. Stock vehicles from the factory nowdays run tranny temps too high even under normal driving conditions, a cooler on every vehicle is cheap life extension.

    6: Blend in. A fully tricked out SUV complete with A-Team corrugated roofing armor welded on makes you stand out. I believe the USMC calls things that stand out "Bullet Magnets". If nothing else, all those high dollar accessories scream "steal me!" The magnetic sign idea is a good one. Related, stop by your local uniform rental shop, most have a used uniform shop in them where you can buy cheap uniforms and jackets returned by their customers. Some even still have the company logos attached. Back in the day everyone I met assumed my name was "Jim" and I worked at the local Amoco station because that was what it said on the used Jacket I bought from the uniform store for $5. Someone with a gas company shirt on, for example, might get waved on through a roadblock as they have an important job to get done.

    Personally, I would want the most "bulletproof" vehicle I could get for a BOV. Around here, that would be a late 80s full size Blazer with a carbeurated 350 small block and a TH700 transmission. Electrical system stripped down to the bare minimum with a few redundant components. Heavy duty components everywhere. You can fix it in the middle of nowhere with a $300 Craftsman tool kit. Every rural area has at least 2 or 3 per square mile for spare parts if needed.
  8. NDS has a good a idea w/that chopper :devilsidesmile:, but it wouldn't fit SlimShady's $300 craftsman tool kit list.

    Honestly Slimshady makes some very valid points that would surely play into my choices...

    I was a mechanic 20+ yrs ago, but couldn't even get to the right-rear plug on my van last Saturday :cantlook: so definately want sumthin even I can work on...

    i lean toward an FJ40 (Toyota Landcruiser, not the retro, the one they are copying) for sheer simplicity & raw go-whereverness (had a couple of them years back, still have one somewhere in Mn, at a friends house).

    ALSO, it's gotta be ugly. rust would be nice, so it doesn't stand-out & so i don't have to hesitate worrying about paint chips & scratches when i'm trying to decide whether i go through or around the crowd of zombies & hail of gun-fire. :devilsidesmile:

    I'd really like to camo the whole thing like i do w/most o'my guns (see my avatar for SKS example) but matte black would be good too, where some bondo & a can of spray paint can touch-up a ding/scratch, or bullet hole.

    but, most any pick-up truck with a pre-HEI distributor would satisfy me. An alternator would be nice to run extra lights, BUT - and THIS is a QUESTION - would a generator be any advantage in EMP scenarios? I would guess being too close to ground-zero would be bad news regardless, but on the fringes of an EMP situation... is there anything that should help steer the choices???
  9. Rhodes

    Rhodes Member

    Good points. One of the reasons I like the F150 is two gas tanks. Range is incredible and gasoline in of itself has so many uses. Lots of room under the hood, common parts, low tech ignition though not low enough.

    One problem with looking too ratty is that it makes you stand out and could be seen as an undesirable looking for loot. Camo yells I have guns and makes you a target and scares off some so kind of a debate there. I was thinking overalls with real last name on the tag (govt never uses first) for the uniforms they kind of fit the class of universal uniform, hows that for redundancy :embarrassed2:

    My whole idea is avoid confrontation and if it occurs then surprise not what it appears to be. Keep the truck looking clean like it just came out of a motor pool nothing beside a trailer hitch and slightly tinted windows departs from stock appearance. Nox system could provide a cheap boost if you need extra HP in difficult situations. Small tank of the stuff is easy to hide with small aluminum tube, valve, solenoid, and switch being the prime components. Caution learn the ins and out of this its not without potential problems.
  10. very good points Rhodes.

    I'm afraid my wife also agrees, she's not into ugly trucks but says I'm welcome to have one - provided I park it far from home :cantlook:... i'd hoped to buy a jeep this summer, but w/the downturn... :'( jus dunno...
  11. Rhodes

    Rhodes Member

    Ugly trucks are great normaly. Scares the beejezus out of sheeple. Get a decent tarp and cover when at home maybe she wont see it.
  12. neothespian

    neothespian Member

    Well, it DOES depend on where you live, but my vote...

    1955 to 1979 VW Type 1 Beetle. And, there are some VERY good reasons:

    -Weight distribution: The engine sits OVER and BEHIND the rear axle, and it's a RWD. This makes for very good traction and stability

    -Parts: This is one of the most popular cars IN THE WORLD! They make aftermarket parts in Canada, and they STILL made the Beetle up until about 4 years ago in Mexico, and still crank out a TON of parts for it! Aftermarket tuning is also huge, and you can get anywhere from 36hp to over 400hp off the same block.

    -Efficency. In their factory, points-managed ignition, carb'ed state still got over 30mpg! Add an electronic ignition and a few modern tweaks, including a 5th gear conversion off a later model VW Bus/Vanagon, and you can get 40mpg easily.

    -Simplicity: The engine has VERY few parts, and it doesn't have the irritating bits like power windows, a/c or even a liquid cooling system! The controls are cable actuated, not hydraulic, so repairs can be easy and can use scavenged parts. The tires are small, and still common. The electrical system so so simple, you can MAKE a fuse block out of stuff from ACE hardware! Most of the glass is flat, so even a busted windscreen is easy to replace. The fenders and doors bolt on with very little hardware, and if you got a 12mm, 24mm and 7mm spanner with one flathead and one phillips screwdriver, you can do 70% of the repairs right there! Add a 2x4, tire iron and pair of needle nose pliers and you can practically rebuild the engine!

    -Versatility: In either "street" configuration or "Baja" configuration, they're perfect for backwoods trails even without 4wd, and for the city as well. They aren't the fastest things in the world, but they're easy to drive and take ALOT of abuse and still keep on ticking.

    -Appeal: EVERYONE loves a bug. From a Baja'ed out rough and tumble one to a cute little city sedan. I have yet to find ANYONE offended by a little Bug!! My folks had one because it did well for a small family of 4, and it was just a hoot! Guy's like them for their go-kart handling and simple mechanical fun, and girls like them because they're easy to drive and "cute" to own! You really can't go wrong in only gaining good attention. They're not overbearing like an SUV, and a bug is a common sight just about anywhere in the world. Add a roofrack (chrome for a streeter, black iron for an off-rod Baja) and you got even MORE cargo space! And, they look normal on a bug because so many came with rack options!

    -Price. They're getting more expensive, but you can still find a great condition bug for under $2000 if you look around. The aftermarket is so huge that you can find whatever parts need replacing quick and you can do them yourself without much effort.

    -Security: You can lock the rear engine decklid...WITH A KEY! The battery is in the driver's compartment under the passenger's seat, and you can lock the gascap AND lock the HOOD that cover's the gascap!! For such a simple car, these things are ALOT more secure against thieves than most modern cars today. And, being made out of steel, it's much harder to force one of these locks.

    So there you have it: The Bug. It's that cool for a reason....
  13. neothespian

    neothespian Member

    The only thing that scares me about "BIG" trucks are the sheeple that drive them :blink: The ones with the SUPER high jacked up suspension and MAD MAX style gear racks all over tooling around downtown Tempe just look like douchebags and have the attitude to match. You can get utility without ego or massive engines/drivelines. The Subaru mentioned is a GREAT car for off road AND for commuting. Sure, it's not going mud bogging but it will handle just about any under-developed road in the US.

    And, I think that trucks have become too large for the civilian market. They Toyota Hi-Lux was the PERFECT civilian pickup!! That and the little Nissan Hardbodies. Those were PERFECT pickups! Torque ladden, durable and easy on fuel. I like pigtails_of_doom's little Ford/Mazda Ranger because it has all these qualities and it's durable too.
  14. i was going to say hummer! and not the mall crawler soccer mon crap they make today but a original, mil spec if possible and repainted, but i dont know much.
  15. I have a 99 2 Door Tahoe. It blends in very well and has a proven drivetrain. Vortec 350, 4L60E, NP246, 14 bolt SF rear. I happen to be a Chevy guy, so that's the route I took. I know the truck inside out and upside down and there's pretty much nothing I couldn't repair if I had an issue. The GMT400 trucks (88-98) are dead solid reliable, as evidenced by the large number of them on the road with over 200,000 miles. The two weak points are the 4L60E and the rear, both of which I have addressed.

    I've made a few mods to it to improve reliability and performance:

    -Custom PCM tune from Justin @ Black Bear Performance. This guy is an EFI Live genius. He can work magic with any 96+ OBDII GM car or truck. He specializes in F Bodies and fullsize trucks, but I'm sure he does more than that. Timing is now 3* before detonation on 89 octane, shift points are bumped, line pressure is bumped and I have an 80% torque management reduction on all shifts. I also gained 1mpg highway.

    -Gibson cat back exhaust. Barely louder than stock, but greatly reduced back pressure. Loud exhaust draws attention. Performance with out added attention = good

    -Corvette 1-2 servo. Increases shift firmness and reduces slipping to lengthen the life of the trans.

    -14 bolt SF rear end. Most 88 - 98 trucks (92 - 99 SUVs) came with a 10 bolt rear diff that has an 8.5" ring gear and 30 spline axles. Fine for normal use, but not that tough. Half ton trucks had an optional (RPO F44) 14 bolt SF axle that was much tougher. 9.5" ring gear, huge bearings and 33 spline axles. It's a direct bolt-in. I found one for $150 in some hick's backyard and rebuilt it using premium Yukon Gears and a Detroit TruTrac.

    -Regular tune-ups. GM vehicles run best with AC Delco ignition parts (NGK actually makes the plugs for the Vortec engines). I've owned a lot of GM vehicles and had nothing but trouble with anything but Delco plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Don't forget a Wix fuel filter. If you own a vehicle newer than 04 or 05, the filter is non serviceable and in the fuel tank.

    -Bilstein HD shocks. Firm and better than stock Delcos. These shocks came from the factory on 88 - 98 Z71 trucks. Available from eshocks.com for not a lot of dollars.

    -New brakes. I buy most of tune up and brake parts from RockAuto.com. After every couple of orders, I get a 5% discount code. They also have the best parts catalog around.

    This truck is very tough (real steel bumpers baby), it's reliable as hell and, should I ever need anything for it, not only are parts cheap and plentiful, but there are a million GM fullsize trucks out there. To me, that makes it an ideal BOV.
  16. I didn't really address the OP that well.

    A Subaru wouldn't be my first choice for a few reasons:
    -lack of ground clearance
    -lack of availability of parts
    -earlier models have questionable reliability
    -wouldn't want to ram another vehicle with one

    A fullsize SUV offers a lot of the advantages:
    -comfortable seating for four
    -roof rack
    -carrying capacity

    Plus adds the following:
    -ground clearance
    -heavy duty suspension and brakes
    -towing capacity
    -can smash other vehicles

    There are some drawbacks:
    -bad mpg (I get 17 highway and 15 city)
    -tires cost more to replace
    -constantly prying Hybrids out of the grille
  17. Bulldog87

    Bulldog87 Member

    Great thoughts Slim! I have often considered the exact arguments you make about the newer vehicles. I have a family larger than most and have been considering an earlier model Suburban. What are your thoughts? Basically same set up as the Blazer only on the longer wheelbase, right? Any particular year, configuration you'd recommend?
  18. LandoCommando

    LandoCommando Member

    Id take my jeep.
    Notice the light bar for extreme night time visibility and the HD front bumper for mowing cows and bystanders down.
    Id have to steal a hard top though, the soft top wouldnt cut it in the defensive department.