One of the coolest parts of getting into the prepper lifestyle is putting your plan together with really awesome gear. And let’s admit it, we’ve got some damn cool gear!
Lately I’ve seen many specials on TV about doomsday vehicles and special built bug out mobile fortresses. While these large and beastly creations are impressive, they seem a bit excessive to me.
Before we get into the wild side of these custom bug out 4×4 rolling bunkers lets talk about why you may want to consider having one. And how you can go about it reasonably.
Yes, I have a bug out vehicle…
My bug out vehicle or (BOV) fills many uses for my household and it wasn’t just for the purpose of being a bug out vehicle.
The goal was to find a durable and rugged vehicle that was easy to work on and find parts that we could use around the farm and backwoods, and double as a hunting vehicle.
The 1988 Jeep wrangler with a hardtop I found on craigslist for a great price fit that role for us. It’s a great all around vehicle and we wanted to be able to take the top off during spring and summer. It also had the electronic B.S. bypassed and a carburetor conversion that uses the common weber or 2 barrel Chevy carb.
There were some specific standards however that needed to be met for it to make a good BOV. These aren’t the only standards for a BOV but it’s what my wife and I decided was important when picking out ours. I also researched what made a good BOV and used my common sense.
- Reliable and Common. Firstly we looked for a vehicle that had been manufactured for a long time with a bulletproof reputation for being a great off road vehicle. If a large number of those vehicles have been produced then it’s much easier to find parts – or to scavenge parts if need be.
- Multiple Uses. Our BOV had to serve multiple purposes. Usually driving around the farm and back roads with occasional trips into town. And as a vehicle for hunting. It needed to be fairly compact for ease of maneuvering on trails and lightweight to aid in easier recovery if stuck. We also need it to go just about anywhere we can point the steering wheel.
- No Computer Controls. What many people forget is that vehicles that have computer control modules are much more susceptible to failure. To avoid this it needed to be carbureted meaning no EFI (electronic fuel injection). Some carbureted vehicles were made with basic computer control systems but the ones on our jeep have been bypassed.
- Affordable. Big awesome rigs could provide more protection and carry more gear but you have to pay for it somewhere. Maybe not in the upfront purchase price of an older used vehicle – but maintenance and fuel usage will catch up with you in a hurry. Plus the more expensive a vehicle looks, the bigger a target you’ll be!
- 4×4 with Off Road Tires. Having true 4×4 was important so that we could have the best chances of getting where we need to go. Oversized off road tires provide better grip off the beaten path and make riding over rough terrain less torturous.
- Be in Great Mechanical Condition. At the time we were looking for our multi-use/BOV I was in no way interested in a mechanical project. Is our jeep in pristine condition? Not at all… but it’ll get me where I need to go and is reliable.
There are many mods planned for the future of this rig of mine. Bigger tires, better suspension, stronger axles and a better transmission are all in the works. But it’s ready right now for me to hook a small trailer up and get the heck out of dodge if I have to.
What Civilian Vehicles Are Good Choices?
Everyone is going to have their own loyalties to specific makers and models of vehicles. I’m not a die-hard fan of any vehicle builder so that wasn’t a big concern. You probably want an older domestic because of the availability of parts that can be interchanged and adapted.
These vehicles listed below were all mass-produced and many of these models are still in production today. Keep in mind that we’re only talking about models made prior to strict emissions and computer control modules.
- Jeep Wrangler or Cherokee. These vehicles are everywhere. Junkyards are full of parts and their known for their off road abilities. Check for the features that you want in your BOV and find one that suits your needs. Jeep has the most aftermarket available parts than any other 4×4 I know of.
- Truck Framed 4x4s. This can include the spacious Suburban, Blazer, Bronco, Ramcharger and assorted pickup trucks. These all make great BOV build platforms and aftermarket support for 4×4 upgrades are plentiful and affordable.
- Military CUCV. This was the military version of many civilian based vehicles. This included Chevy pickups and Blazers, as well as some Dodge trucks. Vehicles from this era dating from late 70’s to mid 80’s are fairly easy to find and affordable to purchase. These vehicles were beefed up for military use and are usually much stronger than other options. If you get one with low mileage they were often well maintained and sometimes rebuilt by the military.
- Foreign 4x4s. There are many great 4×4 vehicles that were made overseas. Toyota has an amazing reputation for reliability and toughness. Some older models can be found carbureted or converted from EFI. If you want to use one of these as your BOV their quality and reliability can’t be beat. If the Toyota Tacoma was readily available with a diesel engine in the US I’d have one of these as my BOV!
- Diesel 4x4s. Diesels are extremely well built and reliable vehicles. Most diesel engines are just getting “broke-in” when gas engines are reaching the end of their life. Modern diesels have become so complicated with electronics and emissions that they’re extremely tough to repair and work on. The older diesels from the 1980’s are still highly prized and would make a great BOV platform.
These aren’t the only options for your BOV but they’re the most reasonable and readily available options.
I’d love to see your bug out vehicles and hear about you’ve modified and adapted them! Comment below or head over to our FB page!
If you haven’t had enough BOV talk check back soon and we’ll get into some of the more unique and ridiculously awesome rigs out there tearing up the dirt.