Time to nut up or shut up!

–Tallahassee, Zombieland (2009)

Is your vehicle ready for the zombie apocalypse?

My wife has foolishly given me the task of researching a potential replacement for our existing SUV. I don’t follow the same type of criteria for a vehicle that most car shoppers follow. I don’t particularly care about color, or style, or what my neighbors will think. My bottom line is : Will this vehicle get me through the zombie apocalypse?

What follows is a list of criteria that I am using to evaluate a vehicle based on its potential readiness as a tool to survive the zombie apocalypse. I hope this list serves you well when the time comes and you must hop in your vehicle, flee civilization, and put the hurt on the rampaging hordes of undead attacking the countryside.

Fuel Type

There are a number of different types of fuel available for cars these days. Today, you can get incredibly efficient gasoline engines, you can get hybrid engines, you can get diesels and you can even get fully electric vehicles. Now, a knee-jerk reaction to the impending zombie apocalypse might be to grab a Prius or some other highly efficient hybrid. Sure, you won’t have to find a gas pump very often, which might make you seem more independent but, really, in a post apocalyptic world who has the skills to repair and maintain fuel cells or hybrid batteries or complex electrical systems?

This goes double for purely electric cars. If the infrastructure goes down, you’re not exactly going to be able to find a friendly charging station for your quaint little eco-friendly electric car.

No, when the chips are down, I think I want my post-apocalypse vehicle to be diesel powered. Not only is diesel incredibly efficient, much more so than many conventional gasoline engines on the road today, but diesel engines provide far more low-end torque, which means when you’re driving up over a pile of writhing undead corpses, the low gear ratio and high torque will let you power on over that mountain of undead no problem.

Further, if you can’t find a decent source of traditional diesel, you can always make your own. You can make biodiesel from leftover cooking grease, from materials you can find in a corn field, and a bunch of other sources. Even more appealing is someone might be able to find a way to extrude biodiesel from zombie corpses. Now that is a versatile fuel.

Drive Train

Whether you’re cruising down the road in a V8 HEMI with a 6-speed automatic transmission or a turbo charged V6 with a 6-speed manual is usually just driver preference. If you’re the only one driving your survival vehicle, then you can pick whatever you like. I tend to prefer manual transmission because I like having more control of my vehicle, and having a connection to the road. That said, if you’re trying to take an on ramp and are surrounded by zombies, if you slip a gear and stall on a hill … that could mean the difference between life and death.

For fun and sporty drive, I like my stick shift. For surviving the apocalypse, I think I might actually prefer an automatic transmission. That said, I want an automatic transmission that has gears, none of this CVT crap. If my engine starts to gasp uphill because the ridiculous CVT has a power gap between what should be third and fourth it may not bother me on the way to drop my kid off at practice, but when survival is on the line that’s going to bother me.

So, thus far, I’m thinking an automatic, gear-driven, diesel. The more gears the better. 8-speed automatic gear-driven diesel would suit me just fine, thank you.

Ground Clearance

Ground clearance is an oft-overlooked quality of a survival vehicle. Let’s face it, you’re not always going to be driving on interstates. Sure, when you’re sharing the highway with fellow soccer moms, who cares? But, when you’re driving over piles of corpses, ruined debris from other people who picked the wrong damn car, and nature itself because all the other lemmings are zombie-bait out on the highway – you want ground clearance.

Not only do you want ground clearance, but you need ground clearance with a suspension that knows what to do with that ground clearance. You can’t blow an axle because one side of your car is in a ditch and the other is on the road (hint, single solid axles can kill you). If you can get a vehicle that has center reinforcement or, better yet, a full-on rock rail, so you can avoid doing permanent damage if you high-center it – you’re golden. For my money, I want a minimum 8 inches clearance, a foot or more if I can get it. This gets me over most moderate natural obstacles, a decently high pile of corpses, and even limited debris and other miscellaneous carnage. It’s also great for dealing with flooding, loose sand, and high snow conditions. Winter isn’t going to stop coming just because the undead have risen.

Interior

Not enough people take the time to think about the inside of their vehicles. First and foremost, you need storage space. You’re going to need to carry food, supplies, misc. gear, weapons, and possibly even those you deem fortunate enough to rescue along the way. Oh yeah, and your family, they come too.
Next, you need to worry about comfort. You need something that’s comfortable and roomy enough to get you through the long trip to whatever mythical land of safety people have told you about (that won’t really exist when you get there). But, you also don’t want an interior that’s so plush you’re too worried about getting it dirty. It’s the freaking apocalypse, the inside of your car’s gonna get dirty. Absolutely, positively, no cloth. Seriously. Vinyl (blech), or leather. Cloth will soak up every germ and other nasty stench of the war and never let go. Leather and vinyl you can hose down and wipe off, even with powerful cleaners. Vinyl, however, will buckle and melt and turn to pure crap in the heat of the summer.
So, in short, you want leather interior; nice, but not Bentley-nice.

Speed and Acceleration

You don’t need to be able to outrun a Bugati Veyron, you just need to be able to outrun the zombies and, let’s be real here, the other suckers they happen to be chasing. Once the enemy stops to eat your neighbors for a snack, you’re free and clear. You need good acceleration to get you out of a jam, and you need to be able to maintain a decently high speed once you get out of there. Like I said, you don’t need a sports car here, you just need decent performance. All those suckers who thought their low-riding Porsches would save them by outrunning the horde won’t be laughing when they flip that bright yellow thing over when they hit their first shambler in the middle of the road.

So, I hope some of this advice helps you the next time you go into a car dealership, hopefully with thoughts of the zombie apocalypse on your mind. Feel free to turn this blog post into a checklist, bring it into your dealer and tell them to find you anything on the lot that meets your basic criteria.

Good luck, and double tap.

  • Zombie Survivor

    electricity for electrical vehicles is free if you were smart enough solar your home or in this case base/fortress. panels are good for 25 years with almost zero maintenance. Given pure EV’s give 100% torque at launch, it gives you much more zombie plowing power. I would say that telsa model s (0-60 in 4.4 secs, seating for 7, adjustable height) or the new suv model x coming out next year would be optimal given their versatility. If $$ is an issue then a prius p/i (battery proven for 250,000 miles with 90% efficiency,) or a leaf. All of these vehicles can be charged in the comfort of your fortress, no need to scramble around like idiots producing noise and attracting zombies from your I/C engine looking for a gas station or corn oil….