Top 10 Vehicles for Your EMP Survival

C. Davis
By C. Davis March 11, 2016 14:39

Top 10 Vehicles for Your EMP Survival

The survivors of a major EMP event are going to have to adjust to doing without a lot of technology that we take for granted right now. Most electronics will be fried beyond repair and it will be years – in some cases decades – before anyone is able to start making replacements. A lot of old skills are going to have to be dusted off or relearned, and in many ways life will go back to how it was in the early 20th century. If the initial chaos that follows the attack continues more than a few weeks things could be forced back in time a lot further than that, with many daily tasks needing the technology of the 19th century.

It’s obvious that the more modern technology you can preserve, the better your chances of survival will be. That’s why building at least one Faraday cage is such a good idea – it will let you protect some vital items from the surge of current caused by the attack. Some things are hard to protect with a Faraday cage though, and one of the most important is your vehicle.

The advantages of having a working vehicle after an EMP attack are obvious. If you live in an urban or suburban area you’re almost certainly going to want to bug out as soon as you can. Social breakdown will make these districts very dangerous places to be, and the more prepared you are the more of a target you’ll be for organized looters or desperate people who want your gear to improve their own chances. Heading out on foot has its own dangers though. You’re seriously limited in how much gear you can carry – 50 pounds is a realistic load, and that won’t be comfortable. If you’re an ex-infantryman who doesn’t mind going slowly and hurting a lot you can double that, but it still isn’t a lot when your long-term survival depends on it. You’ll also be vulnerable to attack, and unable to get away from trouble in a hurry unless you abandon your load.

Related: 7 Actions to Take Immediately Following an EMP Strike

With a vehicle, on the other hand, you can cover as much ground in half an hour as you can walk in a day. There’s space for a heavy load of supplies and gear. You have the ability to drive out of trouble, especially if the opposition are all on foot. The problem is that modern vehicles aren’t very good at surviving an EMP. They have so many electronic systems that most of them will be totally, and permanently, immobilized. However, if you start looking at older vehicles you’re going to find some excellent choices. Focus on less sophisticated 4wd models and there are some real advantages:

  • Less electronics to go wrong
  • Cheap to buy
  • Simple, easily maintained engines – get a diesel if you can; the fuel will be available for longer
  • More rugged than modern equivalents

The ideal post-EMP vehicle is a diesel pickup or SUV with a stick shift and a carbureted engine. Four wheel drive is an essential, not an option; the roads are going to be jammed with immobilized wrecks, and if you can’t move across country you won’t be going far. Here are the top ten choices for your bug-out vehicle:

#10 HarleyDavidson MT350E

Harley-Davidson MT350E
A motorbike has a lot going for it if you’re traveling alone. It’s less conspicuous than a larger vehicle, doesn’t need as much fuel and is a lot more agile. A car is going to have real trouble on roads cluttered with dead vehicles, but a bike can weave its way through most of the time. The Harley Davidson MT350E is made in the USA but Harley actually bought the design from British company Armstrong, whose MT500 model had been selected as the standard NATO dispatch rider’s bike. It’s been updated, with a smaller 350cc engine and electric starter, and it’s a really excellent off road machine. It also has military spec shielded wiring, which improves its chances of surviving. Even if the electrics do get fried it can be kick-started, making it one of the most EMP-resistant vehicles you’ll find.

Approx. price: $1250


#9 Jeep CJ

Jeep CJ

This is a much smaller and more utilitarian Jeep. In fact it’s basically just the civilian version of the original military Willys GP, and was built in huge numbers from 1944 to 1986. Compact, lightweight and simple to keep in running order, it also has amazing off road performance. It is small though, so this one is really for a maximum of two people plus gear. The engines are electronics-free, so aren’t going to get wrecked by EMP, and small enough to give great fuel economy.

Approx. price: $6000


#8 Jeep Cherokee SJ

Jeep Cherokee SJ

The original Jeep SUV, the 1973-1984 Cherokee is a solidly built vehicle that’s old enough to have a simple and EMP-resistant electrical system but recent enough to be fairly comfortable. Its massive gasoline engine isn’t all that fuel efficient but it does have immense pulling power. Because it’s a popular American model it’s easy to find spares for a Cherokee, and this is something the smart prepper will always take into account. There’s no point in getting a survival vehicle that you can’t get replacement parts for.

Approx. price: $14.000


#7 Volkswagen Thing

Volkswagen Thing

Officially known as the Type 181, the Volkswagen Thing is an updated, civilianized version of the World War II Kubelwagen. It’s based on a VW Bug drivetrain, including the aircooled rear-mounted engine. That makes it extremely easy to maintain, and it also means you can use easily available Bug parts for many repairs. Although it has a small 1.4 or 1.6 liter 4-cylinder engine, and is rear wheel drive, its light weight gives it good cross-country performance. It will also carry four people and a decent amount of gear.

Approx price: $9.000


#6 Toyota Hilux N30

Toyota Hilux N30

If you prefer a truck to an SUV the third-generation Toyota Hilux is a great choice. Built from 1978 to 1983, it has a tough and simple diesel engine with minimal to no electronics, so it’s not highly susceptible to EMP. It’s also smaller and more fuel-efficient than the average modern truck, while still giving you a respectable load space and good off road performance.

Approx. price: $4.000


#5 Toyota Land Cruiser J40

Toyota Land Cruiser J40

Modern Land Cruisers are high end, luxurious SUVs. The J40, built from 1960 to 1984, is a completely different beast. It’s tough and simple, and has phenomenal cross country ability. Toyota are also still making many parts for it, so it’s not hard to build up a good spares set, Hundreds of thousands of J40s are still in use as working vehicles all round the world. It can survive just about anything, and thanks to its lack of electronics that includes an EMP.


#4 International Harvester Scout

International Harvester Scout

The Scout is a minor classic; on its introduction in 1961 it became the first of the modern SUVs. Up to then, if you wanted an off road vehicle you didn’t have many alternatives to the utilitarian Jeep. The Scout gave excellent off road performance plus reasonable comfort. The original model can attract quite high prices if it’s in good condition, but what you want is the Scout II. This was built from 1971 to 1980 and there are enough around that a decent one shouldn’t cost too much. The Scout’s big advantage is that it contains no computers and practically nothing electronic, so it’s inherently EMP-resistant.

Approx price: $22.000


#3 CUCV

CUCV

Another ex-US Army model, and even cheaper at auction; you can pick these up for well under $1,000. The CUCV is basically a militarized 1984 Chevy Blazer, and tens of thousands of them were bought in the 1980s. Most of them were quickly put into storage, because their combination of powerful engines and dubious stability didn’t work well in the hands of young soldiers – they were very prone to ending up on their roof. Driven sensibly they’re excellent, tough load carriers with good off road performance. Look for an M1008 pickup or M1009 command car/station wagon.

Approx price: $5.200


#2 HMMWV

HMMWV

Ex-military vehicles have a lot going for them. They can often be picked up cheap, and they’re generally at least partly hardened against EMP. The famous US military HMMWV is a good example. It’s powerful and incredibly robust, with decent off road performance, but also simple to maintain and not loaded down with electronics. Low mileage ex-Army ones can be picked up for as little as $5,000 from surplus dealers. The M998 model is basically a dual-cab pickup with a large load bed; there’s a military issue metal hard top available for it as well, which reduces load space but improves weather protection and security. The HMMWV is very good at fording rivers and crossing rough ground – it’s not as agile as a Land Rover, but has plenty of power. Civilian Hummer models are nowhere near as simple or robust as military ones and should be avoided.

From as little as $5.000


#1 Land Rover 90/110

Land Rover

The Land Rover has been the workhorse of the British Army for decades, and it’s famous for its rugged construction and simplicity. In 1990 it rebranded as the Defender and updated with a modern, electronically controlled engine, but if you can find a 1980s 110 (long wheelbase) or 90 (short wheelbase) diesel you have a vehicle that stands an excellent chance of coming through an EMP unhurt. The Rover’s cross country ability is very hard to beat and it’s also excellent at towing. A truck or military-style soft top gives you the maximum load space; station wagon 110 models can fit up to eight passengers in the back. There’s also plenty of expedition gear available for the Land Rover that works very well on a BOV too.

Price: $12.000 – $35.000


Obviously, having a working vehicle to hand really increases your odds of surviving the end of the world as we know it, so it’s worth making some effort to find the right one. The job doesn’t end there, though. Once you have your vehicle there are some more steps to make sure it’s going to be running after the EMP.

Firstly, put together a set of spare key electrical components. A starter motor and alternator are the bare minimum. These aren’t as vulnerable to EMP as electronic components, but they do contain a lot of wire and a strong pulse could heat that up enough to cause serious damage. If your chosen vehicle has anti-lock brakes, electronic fuel injection or any other computer-controlled functions get spare controllers and add them to your gear. Then store all your replacement parts in a Faraday cage. If an EMP hits it will almost certainly come without warning, so you need to be prepared.

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

Check the vehicle body. To some extent that can act as its own Faraday cage, giving some protection to the systems inside. You can improve on it, though. The most important thing to do is to ensure electric currents can flow freely around the body, which will minimize the pulse that gets through to the interior. Firstly, ground each part of the body to the frame and make sure the vehicle isn’t grounded to the actual ground. The tires will act as natural insulators, which helps you here. Next look at panel lines. If there are any gaps these can generate secondary pulses that might cause damage, so do what you can to close them. On a dedicated BOV you probably don’t care much about looks, so consider sanding the joins down to bare metal, covering them with conductive metallic tape then painting over the top. When the vehicle’s not being used make foil-coated covers for the windows.

Go over the wiring, too. Where possible replace unshielded wires with shielded ones. If there’s any old wiring left over from accessories you’ve removed, strip it out – it can generate more currents during an EMP. Reroute essential cables so they run as close as possible to the frame and body panels, but make sure they’re well insulated. All these steps will reduce the chances of damage occurring.

Related: 7 Things That Will Survive an EMP

Having a working vehicle could be the difference between life and death once an EMP attack has taken place. You’ll be able to move more quickly, carrying the gear you need to survive along the way to your bug-out destination. Once you get there you’ll have the ability to forage more effectively over wider distances, plus a way to rapidly evacuate if the situation changes. It doesn’t even have to be an expensive precaution to take. Because the vehicles most likely to survive an EMP are old, they’re also cheap. It really doesn’t make any sense to prepare for disaster but not make sure that your transport will still be running after the first moments of the crisis.

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C. Davis
By C. Davis March 11, 2016 14:39
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35 Comments

  1. Gwen March 12, 16:42

    Should we store fuel in large fuel cans? What other advice can you provide?

    Reply to this comment
  2. left coast chuck March 12, 17:03

    For those of us on a somewhat more restricted budget, as someone else suggested, a 250 cc dirt bike with kick start. Use saddlebags over the tank and a backpack. Notice that the courier bike fits this description somewhat closely although it is bigger.

    For the even more severely budget handicapped, a mountain bike in the price range of about $600 is another substitute. Make sure it has the lowest gearing possible. Make sure it has a trailer hitch so that you can pull a trailer with it. Make sure it has fittings for panniers both fore and aft. If you think you can’t haul a load on a bike you haven’t been paying attention to history. The NVA moved tons of gear south over the Ho Chi Min trail. Even little kids who can ride can haul their sleeping bags and light weight items on their bikes. Bikes will be extremely valuable in the event of a major blackout. They are truly the most energy efficient means of transportation ever devised.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Ron March 12, 17:37

    In a bug out situation travel speed is most certainly going to be slow. Not a typical 65 MPH get away. One of the best vehicles I can think of for a bug out situation is a diesel driven 4 wheel drive tractor with a towed 4 wheel wagon containing the family and all the equipment necessary for the trip. Travel speed will be slow but it will work well over rough terrain and will certainly serve to move obstacles as necessary. Finding the right tractor is the trick. Any suggestions ??

    Reply to this comment
  4. keith March 13, 03:19

    Will one of those local storage facilities, which are usually made of metal, act as a farady cage?
    Would a motorcycle be protected if it was stored inside?

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck March 13, 04:16

      Keith: I had the same question and I guess the answer is: Maybe. It appears to me from my reading that the more shielding you have the better chance there is of negating the electron flow that will short out whatever it is that you have stored. I recently read some experiments conducted with voltmeters and heavy charges and even sealing the edges of the container made a significant (in my estimation) difference in the electron flow into the container. In the experiment they used metallic tape and also duct tape and interestingly enough duct tape provided a better seal than the special expensive metallic tape. For example, a motorcycle with a magneto starter as opposed to an electric starter in a metal shed with the motorcycle covered with mylar emergency blankets with the edges of the blanket sealed with duct tape may provide better protection than a motorcycle sitting in a metal shed which provides better protection than a motorcycle sitting in a wooden barn which provides better protection than a motorcycle sitting out in the open. In any event, another conclusion I drew from reading the tests is that you don’t have to totally eliminate all electron leakage. There is a certain point below which no damage is done even though there might be some leakage. As with the wiring in your house, you can have a voltage surge that blows the fuses but doesn’t harm the wiring or you can have a voltage surge that blows the fuses and also melts the wiring in the walls, depending upon how much voltage flows down the line before it melts. I wish I could remember where I read about the test. If I could, I would list it as a reference. It was interesting but slightly above my electronic knowledge level. I know this doesn’t answer your question directly but hope it helps understand shielding against the electron flow caused by a CME or EMP. In my opinion, an EMP would probably do the most damage to electronic gear. In ascending order of damage is a ground attack on our grid system, a CME and finally an EMP attack from a nuclear device. All three would thrust us back to 18th century living but for most of us without the life skills that the folks had at that time. For instance, when was the last time you butchered a hog and smoked the meat? Even today, for those of us who hunt, after we field dress the animal we drop it of at a butcher shop that specializes in butchering game and when we pick it up, we take it home and put it in the freezer. I guess I could whack up a deer into manageable chunks of meat. Then what? I don’t have a smoke house. I guess I could make jerky out of it on my charcoal fired barbecue, but while I might be really happy to have a steady diet of venison jerky, I suspect it would get old pretty quick and I would want to think of some other way to preserve any animal I harvested. I have never sheared a sheep in my life and I know my wife does not know how to spin wool into yarn. She can knit very well, but is a little weak on spinning — plus, no spinning wheel.

      Reply to this comment
      • madcat March 15, 01:45

        my suggestion is build a faraday cage I have seen videos on utube on how to build one number one thing I would put in there is a car battery or a flash drive and a spare radio

        Reply to this comment
        • Carrie March 16, 08:45

          No need to put the battery into the cage. It can be left sitting out, just don’t hook anything up to it.

          As for the spare radio – where will you be getting radio signals from? There won’t be any power for the stations to broadcast. If you’re talking a HAM radio, that’s different, there are plenty of HAMs with shielded components waiting to be put into use after an EMP and they’ll be up and running. Dropping a few inexpensive Baofeng radios into your faraday cage (or can) is a good idea.

          A flash drive won’t do you any good without a computer to read it, and a computer needs power. So if you want your flash drive to be readable, you’ll also need to drop in a small laptop computer, an inverter so you can run it off of DC power (like a car battery), and make sure you’ve got some way to get power. A fold-up solar panel to trickle charge that battery would be good. A few of them ready to be daisy-chained would be even better.

          Reply to this comment
  5. dimitrios karakostas March 14, 16:53

    What about Lada Niva!!??

    Reply to this comment
  6. njdave March 14, 16:57

    most vehicles listed do have some form of electronics in them. pretty much everyting from about 1977 up does. the jeeps have the ford electronic igntion in them.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Pappy March 14, 19:18

    Another model, its not 4wheel drive is older diesel vw 1986 and older i found can run on 60/40 diesel to used oil mix and can get alot of miles out of a tank

    Reply to this comment
  8. Racinrick March 15, 17:54

    I have found the best offroad vehicle short of a mule is an old throwaway front wheel drive car with grip tires on front and wide tires on the rear…sheetmetal cut to fit. I used an 82 Toro for several years until I blew the engine. Now I use a 90 Corsica V6 with a skid plate bolted underneath the front.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Donnie March 16, 01:27

    For the cost of buying another (EMP immune) vehicle, couldn’t you more cheaply just buy a back-up electronic card to replace the fried one in your more modern vehicle and store it in a Faraday cage? The advantage is that you would have a vehicle that is made to run on the fuel of the day, not leaded fuel? You wouldn’t have to store an extra vehicle. You wouldn’t need the added cost of liability ins. (I know in a SHTF scenario who cares about ins.!) prior to SHTF. You wouldn’t have to replace plugs, points and condenser, and who knows how to do that these days? It just seems more practical to not buy an extra vehicle.

    Reply to this comment
    • Carrie March 16, 08:55

      Why not do both? Two is one and one is none.
      Also, the “fuel of the day” (gasoline) won’t be good for very long. That’s why diesel is better. It lasts longer, can be mixed with other things like used engine oil or canola oil, and can even run on bio-diesel made from animal fats.

      Reply to this comment
    • DW111 November 1, 16:38

      I agree, how do you find out what components would need to be replace? I would really like to store key components for at least one of our trucks!

      Reply to this comment
      • Omi January 14, 16:17

        I’d like to know more about this too. Modern vehicles have hundreds and hundreds of potentially EMP susceptible microprocessors, and hundreds if not thousands of more susceptible chips. Good long article about this here: http://www.futurescience.com/emp/vehicles.html

        I know that the ECU (engine control unit) would be one component that’d need to be replaced for sure, but I suspect there are others, such as each fuel injectors, etc. I’d love to see a complete list from a mechanic that lists all the things I’d have to have on hand to get my new truck running again. I’m sure this’d be no small expense too (the ECU alone will run you $800-$2000!) but it’d be worth it IMHO. And of course you’d have to be able to wrench on your vehicle to replace everything fried.

        Anyhow, does anyone have a source for this full list of EMP susceptible auto electronics?

        Reply to this comment
  10. Rooster March 22, 21:09

    Once the EMP has been detonated and the damage is done . Will it continue to do its evil on the grid and on our electronics ? How long will it last ?

    Reply to this comment
    • BQPAHplays minecraft May 9, 20:51

      The EMP will last only a couple minutes in the area affected at the time after it goes off as far as I know. But just to be safe I would wait half an hour before I take anything out of there faraday cages or start repairing things or turning them on.

      Reply to this comment
      • CommsGuy January 14, 18:05

        The initial pulse will only last for seconds. However, if it was created by an enemy state they will most like fire off one blast then wait an hour (after everyone has pulled all their EMP prove stuff out of the Faraday cages) then blast off a second one to finish the job. Wait at least 3 hrs before pulling out your spare electronics. Then you will also know if it was caused by a nuke or a CME from the Sun.

        Reply to this comment
  11. Email Spike Review March 25, 07:06

    A precedence is made to keep these business elements working and,
    ought to a disruption happen, a BCP defines (in order of precedence and chain of command) the best way to
    hold your business fully operational while minimizing downtime.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Battery Guy March 29, 13:01

    My small Veteran Owned Company makes an EMP Safe Battery Charger that runs on Saltwater. Please check them out on our website. http://www.greenivative.com

    Reply to this comment
  13. Nor-Cal patroit March 29, 19:46

    The early model straight axle Toyota 4×4 trucks are also bulletproof. You can get a 1 wire hookup distribute from Davis unified ignitions that use a 1 wire hookup using cheap standard Chevrolet HEI ignition modules

    Reply to this comment
  14. Allen June 8, 03:29

    I have owned several VWs. The Thing does look the part, but a bug would have better protection and nearly as much space inside, and just as capable off highway. A bus would be even better, with a stronger drivetrain, and a lot more space.

    Reply to this comment
  15. TreasuryUS July 21, 14:46

    There are some spelling errors in the article. The word When should be Wheel in first paragraph. There a re more…. go find’em…. More comments as I read through today! Greg

    Reply to this comment
  16. TreasuryUS July 21, 19:08

    Ok have reviewed the article and is nicely done. Here are some of my suggestion and/or changes. First my background. 7 Yrs. USMC Intelligence, specialty was WMD Defense/Survival, 2.5 of those yrs. USMC-MP all phases of operations from main gate to traffic control to and including UC work on assaults. Background since leaving USMC, 38 yrs. computers and electronics for 3 of the Fortune 100 companies, and others, in systems administration, logistics and DB administration. 14 Yrs. US Treasury Police (Yes they exist), all operational duties to and including securities destruction and convoy of securities/materials slated for destruction. I feel if I am going to be believed, you’d best have a pedigree and not just some “idea” of what to do during a survival episode.

    1) Start watching or start streaming to watch Walking Dead and it’s spin off, Fear the Walking Dead. It is as close as you are getting as to an FAQ on survival, and it IS believable and totally possible.
    2) Get the DOD manual on Prepardeness, here’s a link to all you need (https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=dod+manual+on+preparedness)
    3) I don’t like Hummers – too flashy too cramped. Not dependable, uses too much fuel and the ability to go off road and through water restricted to limits of weight and size of water area to traverse.
    4) Motorcycle – good for quick getaways but you have to be schooled and experienced in motocross to get anywhere safely off road. If you don’t ride, forget it.
    5) Cars – They can be dependable. They can be a headache. I like automatic over stick shift only because not many cars these days everyone is used to has a stick shift. So us oldies (I’m 63) know how to shift, what about the ladies? If you can’t stick shift, use automatics. Nothing like needing a quick getaway and your wife/girlfriend/husband can’t shift!
    6) Trucks/flatbeds – Now here is a vehicle like diesel, it can haul, it can run a road block, it can ford a stream, it can pretty much do anything you need it to do. Get one that’s automatic, has good heater, don’t worry about A/C, 2 tanks or one big one and don’t forget at least one spare tire. There are many but I liked the ones we had in the Corps that I drove once in a while, the M35 2.5 ton cargo truck.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M35_2%C2%BD-ton_cargo_truck

    Need a ink? You should be able to find something here:

    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=truck%27s+for+preppers

    Ok I know you can’t afford that or can’t find one in decent shape. That’s what Google is for, find something that is as close as you can get and you got it made for transportation.

    Storage of gasoline. I keep 5 gals. on hand in shed out back. Use Stabil and follow directions. Want more info?

    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=longterm+storage+of+gasoline

    One thing about EMP. It only lasts micro-seconds, more in hand technology is going to fail rather than fry your cars computer module, BUT, your car has plenty between it and the source, especially if your far away from the pulse. Read up on EMP, it could be nothing to worry about, depends on a lot of things, height of burst, KT rating of the device, MIRV, weather at time (lightning) etc.

    http://www.futurescience.com/emp/vehicles.html

    My best to you all and this is a great forum. Stay safe!

    Reply to this comment
  17. Boomer August 25, 01:41

    Your thoughts on a ’87 Jeep Comanche 4×4 P/U, I know its not big and heavy, but it seems good and small enough to go way back in the woods without too much strain. Its got enough hauling capcity to carry enuigh supplies to last

    Reply to this comment
  18. Trena September 29, 10:02

    Rattling nice pattern and wonderful content, nothing at all else we
    want :D.

    Reply to this comment
  19. ladybugrules October 5, 16:05

    the one problem I can see with having a working vehicle is the fact that the noise will alert everyone to the fact that you have one.Horses and bikes would also be a good idea.Just make sure your vehicle has 4wd so you can stay off the roads.And,those old Harley’s are not cheap as they are collector items.If you live in the cities,you will want something compact since a lot of cars probably wont be working and they will be blocking the roads,so a fast getaway might be tough,and if your the only one with a vehicle people will surely try to take it away from you.Good luck and stay safe evryone

    Reply to this comment
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