Affordable Vehicles That Can Survive an EMP

Curtis Lee
By Curtis Lee May 15, 2017 08:14

Affordable Vehicles That Can Survive an EMP

The energy that heats your food in a microwave, the data sent to your smart phone and the music you listen to on a terrestrial radio – these are all forms of electromagnetic energy.

An EMP test tower in Nevada

An EMP test tower in Nevada

What makes the EMP unique is that this electromagnetic energy is sent in large amounts over a very short period of time.

The EMP attack is portrayed as sending modern society back to medieval times. Whether this is true or not is subject to much debate. One often discussed topic is whether a typical vehicle could survive an EMP and if so, what vehicle would have the best chance of doing so.

Related: Where Not To Be During an EMP

Conventional wisdom is that the older the vehicle, the more likely it can survive an EMP strike. This may be true in theory, but may not always be true in practice. One reason for this is that modern vehicles have some shielding against unwanted electromagnetic energy interference. For example, car engineers understand that you wouldn’t want a TV, radio, walkie-talkie, Wi-Fi or other wireless signal to interfere with your vehicle’s onboard computers.

But there are many other variables that will determine if a given vehicle will survive an EMP attack and to what extent it would survive it. The only way to know for sure is to actually test the vehicle. But even with extensive testing, you wouldn’t necessary have a perfect list of EMP-proof vehicles.

Related: Emergency Bag to Keep in Your Car in Case of an EMP

Therefore, the following list provides a good starting point as to what vehicles stand the best chance of surviving an EMP strike in drivable condition and are also affordable for the average person.

Option 1: 1979 Jeep CJ5 4×4. Average Street Value = $7,100

1979 Jeep CJ5 4x4The Jeep (AMC) CJ5 is one of the most famous versions of the venerable “Willys Jeep.” Given its reliability and performance, it’s no wonder the CJ5 had one of the longest production runs of any Jeep. Starting in the 1980s, the CJ5 Jeeps were made with more advanced electronics, such as AM/FM radios and more complex electronic control units. Getting a CJ5 older than a 1979 model can’t hurt, but the prices tend to rise as the model years get older, so the affordability advantage is diminished.

Contributing to its EMP survivability is a naturally aspirated engine utilizing a carburetor. As one might expect, the CJ5s are typically found with manual transmissions, which are easier to repair, should the need arise.

The CJ5 also makes a fantastic off-road vehicle, which can be of great use in a survival situation. Lastly, the CJ5 doesn’t stand out too much (except to the most fanatic Jeep fans), so it’s unlikely to draw any unwanted attention.

Related: 10 Things to Have Ready before the Huge EMP !!!

Option 2: 1984 Chevrolet Blazer. Average Street Value = $6,100

Chevrolet BlazerThe Chevrolet Blazer is a popular classic vehicle and it’s easy to see why, given its traditional styling, history and off-road capability. Like other vehicles listed in this article, the 1984 Chevrolet Blazer’s engine uses a carburetor and natural aspiration, so there are fewer sensitive electronics controlling engine performance. The Blazer is also very popular for making additions and modifications, with many options available.

There are other models of the Blazer that would do well surviving an EMP, such as a model from the 1970s or early 1980s, but they are significantly more expensive, almost double the price on the used car market.

Related: 12 Essential Things You Can Scavenge from Cars when SHTF

Option 3: 1972 Volkswagen Beetle. Average Street Value = $5,900

Volkswagen BeetleThe Volkswagen Beetle is one of the most recognizable vehicles ever manufactured; in fact, it is the best-selling vehicle in history. It’s also another iconic vehicle that’s noted in pop culture (The Love Bug comes to mind).

Starting around 1975, the VW Beetles were made with the Bosch fuel injected engines, which added extra electronics to the vehicle. While this addition is not very advanced by today’s standards, it adds a weak link to the VW Beetle’s EMP resistance. Therefore, most VW Beetles from the early 1970s or older would serve as the most ideal versions for surviving an EMP strike.

If a truck or SUV isn’t your thing, the VW Beetle is definitely a vehicle you should look into getting.

Option 4: 1983 Ford Bronco. Average Street Value = $5,000Ford-Bronco-1983

The Ford Bronco was first released back in 1966 and was discontinued 20 years later in 1996. However, it’s a popular vehicle and has a bit of history, especially in pop culture (OJ Simpson’s infamous Ford Bronco is of the 1993 model year).

The 1983 Ford Bronco makes a great vehicle for surviving an EMP because it has a naturally aspirated carburetor engine. This means a simple air intake system is used and the air-fuel mixing doesn’t rely on electronic assistance.

But why is the 1983 model recommended in particular? Starting with the 1984 model Ford Broncos, electronic emissions equipment became standard. Besides creating another area of potential failure in an EMP strike, it also reduces the vehicle’s performance. Additionally, certain 1985 Ford Broncos have electronic fuel injection, which creates yet another potential weak point against an EMP.

Related: 7 Actions to Take Immediately Following an EMP Strike

Other Things to Consider

This article lists only a handful of vehicles that are likely to survive an EMP. Basically, any vehicle from the 1960s or earlier will probably survive an EMP event in drivable, if not perfect condition. However, they’re unlikely to be the most affordable or practical. Obviously, an even older vehicle, such as one that’s steam or animal-powered would have the absolute best chance of surviving the EMP, but they wouldn’t be practical to operate (for most people) and are quite expensive to purchase and maintain.

Even if you find a great vehicle for surviving an EMP, don’t forget other practical considerations, such as parts availability, ease of maintenance and repair, performance, inconspicuousness and fuel availability (gasoline versus diesel).

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Curtis Lee
By Curtis Lee May 15, 2017 08:14
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  1. Nicmo May 15, 13:15

    I am not sure the ’84 Blazer would survive because GM substituted an electronic module for mechanical points in their then new HEI distributor. Possibly the same results with the Bronco.

    Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 04:31

      You are correct, The GM HEI ignition is well known for RF sensitivity. However it can easily be replaced with single or dual point mechanical ignitions, but what the author is neglecting in all these vehicles in their know it all lack of knowledge is every single one of their alternator utilize solidstate voltage regulators and diode pairs or trios which will die since they are NOT shielded from an EMP…

      Reply to this comment
  2. Nicmo May 15, 13:16

    HEI was introduced in 1975 I believe.

    Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 04:36

      You are correct, The GM HEI ignition is well known for RF sensitivity. However it can easily be replaced with single or dual point mechanical ignitions, but what the author is neglecting in all these vehicles in their know it all lack of knowledge is every single one of their alternator utilize solidstate voltage regulators and diode pairs or trios which will die since they are NOT shielded from an EMP…
      Nicmo, the GM HEI was introduced in Feb 1974, in march of the same year all Camaros had it and before 75 all GM’s had it in them.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Dan May 15, 13:29

    i havent been able to find out if there is a way to protect my home solar system from an EMP.the guy at solar city says it cant be done,is that true

    Reply to this comment
    • Dwayne May 15, 15:40

      I think the solar panels themselves are ok. What you might want to do is buy a spare controller, etc. and store them.

      Reply to this comment
      • joe August 30, 07:50

        The solar cells are semiconductors, hit them with an AC signal and they are toast. EMP is a high frequency AC Pulse.Unless they are in a fariday cage, they will be dead.

        Reply to this comment
    • Rod May 15, 15:43

      Solar cells are actually semiconductor junctions which are VERY susceptible to EMP. The only way to use these post EMP is to have them shielded. The ones in use will probably be fried, so have a backup. I say “probably” because EMP damage varies with distance, conditions, etc. Having a shielded backup system, that could be deployed post event, would be the best bet.

      Reply to this comment
    • Ppeterson May 16, 15:45

      Sun gives your solar panels energy its called a grid. photosynthesis witch is providing power to each pixel. There’s no grid at night or cloudy days that’s why you have batteries that’s were your power is stored .if your close to a power stations that’s your back up. By witch electrical company you used for your home will your solar survive a emo. Half and half. You will need back up generators and your own grid..Google it. There’s a lot available but if you need More Help contact me pwhirl2003 at. my son is a installer .and I am in energy and utilities

      Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 04:38

      You cant, they are pure semiconductor junctions, and are the most susceptible devices made

      Reply to this comment
  4. Prepper Paul May 15, 14:59

    I read somewhere on here that a microwave will act as a Faraday cage and protect against EMP? Is this true?

    Reply to this comment
    • Erin1patriot May 15, 15:43

      Yes. You can repurpose an old defunct or use a working microwave as a Faraday cage.

      Reply to this comment
    • Rod May 15, 15:50

      Yes, with a caveat. Remove the “guts” of the microwave leaving the door, door seal, inside cavity (where the food cooks) and the outside case. Cover all holes in the cavity with aluminum duct tape (the real aluminum tape). Remove the cord as well. You should have a better than average shielded container. The galvanized garbage can sealed with aluminum duct tape should work well too. It gives you more room and are relatively inexpensive. I did an article on converting a microwave and it took me most of an afternoon to clean it out completely and seal up all the holes. There are MANY!!!!

      Reply to this comment
      • TheProfessor May 22, 04:54

        Leave the cord! a cage MUST be Grounded to function, without a ground it will act as an antenna to a pulse, Ive worked in Faraday cages for years, a good ground is an absolute MUST!

        Reply to this comment
    • josh May 15, 21:03

      all you need is a metal can and sealed metal lid, like one of those old metal garbage cans. I’ve seen smaller versions of the can at walmart…

      Reply to this comment
      • TheProfessor May 22, 04:55

        keep spreading the myth, and people will hunt you down and drink your blood if an EMP hits,,, you dont know what you are talking about.

        Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 04:48

      they MAY there is no proof of it. and it f e door seal leaks and if it is left ungrounded you are quite literally screwed. Also of note an emp is an RF burst of radio waves from DC to sunlight in frequency, this means ALL radio waves, a microwave oven is designed around a very limited radio frequency typically about 500 MHZ or lower depending on how old it is, so there ir a very high probability of failure of protection from an EMP

      Reply to this comment
    • Fizzlecat June 12, 21:06

      I have read a good way to see if your item will be shielded in your would-be Faraday cage, is to place your cell phone inside and close it. Try to call it. If it rings, electronic signals are still getting to it, and it is not safe.

      Reply to this comment
  5. Rod May 15, 15:46

    I have an ’83 Ford diesel vehicle for just this purpose. The only parts on it I am concerned about are the starter, alternator, and solenoid. Coils of wire (like in the above items) are ripe for EMP destruction. No computer in the fuel system, all mechanical. Replace the burned out components with shielded replacements and it should be good to go.

    Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 05:23

      Rod coils are safe wire is safe some people’s brains are already fried for posting otherwise the ONLY thing an emp will damage is solid state devices. Remember, we have already had a number of them already and the cact that they dont affect electric motors is proven Hiroshima, Nagasaki, our own tests in the southwest, which is why literal towns were set up complete with appliances and brand new cars to test the effects on.

      Reply to this comment
      • Anzenmaster August 29, 16:55

        Check out the info on the “Starfish Prime” A-test. More than semi conductor junctions that are at risk. Significant current flows can be induced in many devices.

        Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 05:24

      Rod coils are safe wire is safe some people’s brains are already fried for posting otherwise the ONLY thing an emp will damage is solid state devices. Remember, we have already had a number of them already and the cact that they dont affect electric motors is proven Hiroshima, Nagasaki, our own tests in the southwest, which is why literal towns were set up complete with appliances and brand new cars to test the effects on.
      BTW, your alternator is at big risk due to the solid state regulator and diodes in it

      Reply to this comment
  6. E$l Oso May 15, 15:53

    Please think about not standing out. A Ford D 250 Diesel from 1983 thru 1992 is “bomb proof” no electrics of any kind. Diesel fuel does not sour as does alky gas. The very nature of “bug out” means stealth and being able to carry necessary things such as food and water. In a beetle come on.

    Reply to this comment
    • DMONIC May 19, 22:14

      I have to cal BS on the whole “diesel doesn’t sour like gas”. BOTH habv exp dates- its just that diesel is around 5 or so years as opposed to 3 plus years on gasoline.

      Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 04:51

      yes diesel does go bad, an algal like growth develops in it, it also waxes over time. and the alternator is highly susceptible to an emp as the voltage regulator and diodes in it are solid state;

      Reply to this comment
      • Finn August 29, 23:22

        The professor is right again. Diesel tanks will develop Algal growth. Any one who has run ships and does not keep the day tank clean will be fubared the first good storm they get in after all filters clog and engines shut down. Oh the hours I’ve spent scrubbing my tanks to remove the Algal growth.

        Reply to this comment
        • bill September 9, 23:15

          There is an additive to fight the algal. We treat our storage tank in bulk. It is available at farm stores.

          Reply to this comment
  7. Randy May 15, 16:13

    Just a note: Having a vehicle that works and having a generator or any other type of power source will make that group or person a target for everyone who is without. Always consider if you want to use up your ammo and risk your group or do without the vehicle or power and draw less attention.

    Reply to this comment
    • El oso May 15, 16:34

      What you say is really true!! please think about what we mean and why we would “bug out”. The only reason I would bug out is if I could no longer defend my home. Now i can attempt to carry enough water and food for my wife and i (we are not really young) or use my 4X4 and carry 3/4 ton in the bed along wit my cargo trailer and have enough food and water for at least 4 months. Choice is stay at home and attempt to defend or run for it and have a, perhaps, better chance.

      Reply to this comment
    • AnComRN Prepper May 15, 20:44

      You keep your EMP proof vehicle on your prepped property that’s hidden in the mountains… then you’ve got it ready after SHTF. Just gotta get to your hiding place.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Badger May 15, 16:22

    What about a 1974 Plymouth Voyager Van? Mine has the Cassette deck…

    Reply to this comment
  9. Wannabe May 15, 17:20

    Wow, glad to know this article is recent. I clicked on the suggested related article seven things to do immediately following an emp and that is two years old. May be hard to have a convo on a two year old . Looks like I will be walking

    Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor May 22, 05:17

      Wannabe, the article may be recent but the author seems to be suffering Alzheimer’s because they sure as hell dont know what tey are talking about, every vehicle on the list is suseptible due to solid state components in their alternators and most of them have solid state ignitions

      Reply to this comment
      • Doc May 31, 01:49

        Go with the 67 VW, has a generator. 4 speed manual tranny. Can be started with a push. Generator doesn’t even need a battery to work. No solid state except maybe radio depending on which one was installed.

        Reply to this comment
  10. MLK May 15, 17:20

    If it has inductors (electric motors, ignition coils) they will not survive. Reference Mil PRF 188-125.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Steve May 15, 18:49

    Also it has been suggested to wrap a dragging chain underneath your vehicle to ground it during travel. Also ground your vehicle while it is parked to give the pulse a path to ground hopefully bypassing your ignition, electronic or not. Reference:

    Reply to this comment
  12. Buster May 15, 19:33

    I am concerned about my gun safes. Both have a digital combination lock. I have made an attempt to cover it with a metal box held tightly against the door with magnets to make sort of a faraday cage. Does anyone definitively know if this is folly or will it protect against an EMP?

    Reply to this comment
    • Transponder May 16, 13:51

      I am a locksmith and I convert LOTS of gun safes which have digital locks to mechanical locks or to EMP proof locks. These EMP proof locks are both mechanical and digital so you are covered both ways.

      Reply to this comment
  13. Wannabe May 15, 20:41

    Horse and buggy. No electronics at all.

    Reply to this comment
  14. BobbyMac` May 15, 21:50

    This is not true. Anything that contains a transistor or PNP/NPN “junction” in it will be effected unless shielded, even the new tech that uses different methods to build a circuit chip – things like LED’s contain those, also, long lines – like high power lines – will be susceptible to generating spikes from emissions they pick up – just like an antenna. The pulse from a detonation most commonly referred to as “EMP – Electromagnetic pulse, actually is a broad spectrum emission, from visible light, radio frequency, up through gamma radiation and higher. All vehicles that contain electronic regulators for charging will be effected, which by my memory is anything after 1963. In 1974 roughly, GM started to put regulators inside of their alternators. Everyone else did too, if you remember before that they were separate units on the wheel well inside in engine compartment – still effected. The only ones not effected would be mechanical regulators that came before that. Also effected obviously are anything that has a computer module in it, or is controlled by one, that includes electronic control values & the like. That’s assuming you don’t have hardened electronics that the military uses. It is true that normally aspirated engine (ones with carburetors) are less effected – but you only need one system to fail on most cars and you are done. I can’t speak about diesel engines – I’m not aware of the way they control timing and other systems.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Jmb May 15, 22:58

    Math. 1966 to 1996. Does that equal 20 years?

    Reply to this comment
  16. Audio Dude May 16, 01:28

    Some of the Liberty safes with electronic combo lock are according to the mfg. “EMP PROOF”. Check with the mfg of your safe.

    Reply to this comment
  17. Dave May 18, 15:08

    Don’t forget about the great benefits of an older diesel tractor. Not only can they get you around for short trips but they really can do some work back on the homestead. Surviving also means thinking about the long term when re-construction and small scale farming becomes a necessity. 1980’s version John Deer tractors are bombproof and reasonably affordable.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Himesa May 22, 17:52

    Check out Amish – believe they are the only people for who, life will essentially continue on as before. No electricity. No vehicles. Gas lights. Horse and buggy or bicycles. Maybe we should let them be our teachers.

    Reply to this comment
  19. gale May 23, 01:22

    If your vehicle has an alternator and regulator, they will both fail. Find a generator, and a carbon pile regulator and install those on your vehicle and you should be fine that is if the emp pulse doesn’t set off the fuel in your tank, due to the fuel level sensor in the tank. Best to just remove that and cap the hole.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Me May 25, 20:45

    Look on govplanet a lot of retired military equipment is emp engineered

    Reply to this comment
  21. BvilleDave May 29, 13:55

    From what I’ve read here and in other places, I’d bet the Amish community is going to have little to no problems from and EMP.

    Reply to this comment
    • Scoobydu June 6, 02:58

      Unfortunately for the Amish, everyone knows they’re lifestyle….I hope they’re pack’n…

      Reply to this comment
      • Big Boy in MO December 8, 17:33

        I have a few Amish friends, they do use gas and diesel engines for powering equipment. Some even use gas or diesel powered welders, I can’t figure that one out?? They will not be “pack’n” because they do not believe in violence of killing. There weapons are only used for hunting as I understand it.

        Reply to this comment
  22. Greg June 1, 00:38

    I have a 89 E350 diesel cube van. It’s converted into a camper and is self contained. Talk about not standing out.

    Reply to this comment
  23. Dr. B June 5, 22:49

    I have an ’84 Chevy Blazer. Any takers??? After reading comments, I feel I am better off riding my bike.

    Reply to this comment
  24. Sc00bydu June 6, 02:55

    You can always have a mountain bike as backup transportation.

    Reply to this comment
  25. Billhilly June 14, 02:13

    It’s good to keep live stock like horses. They don’t need gas or diesel. The fuel would be gone and stolen in weeks. Horses can work the farm and you can bug out if needed. Alcohol doesn’t go bad and neither do bullets. Sugar, Grain, Blankets could be used for trading. Boots would be needed. No use for sandals and tennis shoes. Because you have to work…meaning manual labor. concentrate on medical supplies.

    Reply to this comment
    • Marky June 14, 11:45

      I’ve thought about keeping animals. Wouldn’t they be at severe risk of being harvested by starving groups? They would be very difficult to hide. A vehicle you could at least hide in a barn or the woods.

      Reply to this comment
    • El oso June 14, 14:19

      I have some knowledge of this subject. Having owned a stable and several Texas ranches. As I see the downside to horses, I happen to be very found of horses, as Markey said they will have to be guarded 24/7. Unless you are very remote and even then their grazing will be a problem. Who could stock enough feed to sustain them over a long period of time?

      Reply to this comment
    • Zendzian August 11, 04:41

      Instant coffee and toilet paper are non-essential essentials that can be used to trade.

      Reply to this comment
  26. Victor June 20, 18:43

    CJs cast iron straight six can be retrofitted with a carburetor and a Points distributor.. Ford Straight Six
    Point distributor works fine.

    You can use an old Generator rather than an Alternator and the controller is mechanical.

    One of my vehicles is set up like that. works fine.

    My next project . 1940s era 2 cycle Diesel, manual transmission for a Suburban.

    Reply to this comment
  27. tatil August 8, 21:35

    I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps
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    Reply to this comment
  28. Truth Seeker August 29, 14:48



    The world is about to change My Love. Not just the United States but the entire world. My judgment begins now. For it is the only way now for many to find Me. They must walk through this darkness, but I have many Light Bearers that will cross their path and lead them home to Me. I am not heartless but not willing that any should perish. Do you understand? Many will blaspheme My Name when all that is coming comes. Many will curse God, My Father. Many will curse you, My Light Bearers, for you will shine so brightly all will know who you are. Those that carry My Love will reach the lost and dying. It will be a time of miracles like no other time. My Love, you will walk in this and many will accept My love and salvation with only seconds left as they die and enter My Glorious Kingdom. Do no worry, but be strong and courageous for I will lead your steps and you will hear My voice clearly saying “walk this way,” and I will walk alongside you directing your every word spoken, and every step you take, and then you will see My Glory as you inherit My Kingdom and stand along with Me as we rule. Great is your reward for all those who laid down their life to follow Me. Now is the time. The time begins as there are only seconds on the clock until Midnight!

    Be ready!
    Stay ready!
    Remember I am with you and in Me you can do all things!

    I love you My Darling, My Darling Bride, and I see you already dressed in white as My Righteousness radiates on and through you!

    Reply to this comment
  29. LOISDELENE August 29, 17:22

    I am prepping for for blackout.. I need to make space for more supplies. I have a small bedroom I am using now but U live in rent controlled housing and can”t devote the whole room to storage and I have enough to keep me possibly 5 years. BUT maybe not.If I had the money I would move to a BIG house with more rooms. I am not worried about shelf life of my food but I wonder about the store bought water I am stockpiling./ What is that shelf life?

    Reply to this comment
  30. Ray White August 30, 03:31

    You need a pre-1974 vehicle that is carbureted and operates with points and a condenser. You might have to replace the alternator though–and have a few spare points and condenser sets in a Faraday Cage.

    Reply to this comment
  31. Tyslong September 1, 03:56

    a motorcycle with a kick starter and a magneto ignition , should be safe for travel but carrying supplies could be troublesome my 1982 Honda 450 hondamatic will run headlight and signals with a 5 yr old completely dead battery

    Reply to this comment
  32. Oreganic October 26, 21:36

    Surprised the older Mecedes 300D wasn’t mentioned…

    Reply to this comment
  33. papajim November 7, 18:26

    Get a horse!!!!!!

    Reply to this comment
  34. Pixiedust November 7, 19:35

    I’m looking to buy a 1984 Bronco 11, what parts are electrical on that other than the starter?

    Reply to this comment
  35. Pixiedust November 7, 19:39

    Get a water filter to run it through if you are concerned about exp. on water.

    Reply to this comment
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