The Ultimate Prepper Vehicle, by Spotlight

I will admit that the title that I chose for this article was mostly tongue-in-cheek. There is obviously, no ultimate prepper vehicle. What works for me may not work for you. However, I do want to take the opportunity to make the case for what I think is an excellent prepper vehicle: the minivan. Yes, the lowly, oft-mocked minivan. The “Loser Cruiser” as one of my buddies put it when I drove up one day. As I sensed he was attacking my manhood I responded that if he was getting his manhood from the car he drove, he had much bigger problems than I could help him with! Let’s take a look at why I think this type of vehicle is perfect for a prepper.

First of all, some background and personal experience: My wife and I got our first minivan in the early 2000s. It was a 1994 Dodge Caravan my brother in law was getting rid of and he only wanted $1000 for it so we grabbed it up. It was fire engine red so we called it Clifford the Big Red Van after a character from a book our daughter loved as a child. It was nice, but very basic. We kept the third row seat out permanently as we only had one child and almost never used it. The second row seat was removable but it was a bear to move it. It was unwieldy and weighed a ton. It was hassle enough that I would think long and hard about whether I really needed to take it out to put whatever large item I had into the van.

It also had an aftermarket alarm system installed by the owner prior to my brother in law. (Are minivans really hot on the stolen car circuit?!) I don’t know how this thing was wired but it had a red light and a green light. If the red light came on, the alarm was armed and it could only be disarmed by multiple presses of one of the buttons, which sometimes disarmed it and sometimes didn’t. If it turned red and you turned the car off, you could not get it restarted with the red light on so we constantly had to keep an eye on it. I had two different alarm installers look at it but they said it was so wired into the whole system they were afraid to mess with it for fear of causing other problems.

Even with those issues, Mrs. Spotlight loved it. She drove it every day and we never worried about how much stuff we wanted to take on a trip. In 2008 Clifford breathed his last and we got a 2005 Chrysler Town & Country Touring. Talk about an upgrade! This thing had leather, heated seats, folding middle and third row seats and more bells and whistles than we could have imagined. Mrs. Spotlight really loved this car and I did too. We drove it everywhere, on more trips than I can count, loaded it up with garden supplies, suitcases, wood, etc. You name it; it went into that van.

The only thing my wife did not like was the color, navy blue with grey interior. But, buyers of used cars don’t get to pick their colors. We drove that until December 2018 when we bought the same exact model only 10 years newer, a 2015 Town & Country with only 7,800 miles on it. Again, even though it’s the same model, it has many more upgrades. Heated steering wheel! I thought that was the dumbest thing ever until I tried it and it is actually kind of nice! This thing is like riding in a limousine. People laugh at us since our only child is grown and married and we still have a minivan but the laughing stops when they get in they see how roomy and comfortable it is. We like to go antiquing and the van is perfect for that. One thing my wife didn’t like: the color. It is literally the same exact color, navy blue with grey interior! Sorry, honey!

Why a Minivan?

So, on to why I think this is such a great vehicle for a prepper. First of all, there is the grey man factor. I wrote an article on SurvivalBlog a few years back that espoused the Grey Man lifestyle. For those who may not know, the idea of the grey man is to blend in, not be noticed, etc. The minivan fits that lifestyle perfectly. No one notices someone in a minivan; they’re everywhere and are not flashy vehicles. I used our 2005 for years as a surveillance vehicle while doing private investigation work and no one gives a minivan parked on the street a second look. (I would fold the middle seats down and sit in a folding lawn chair, very comfortable!)

Second, as I have already mentioned, there is room for stuff. With all of the seats folded down on my 2015 I have a space about 7.5’ long x 4’ wide. (I could actually get a full 8”x4” sheet of plywood in there by tying the door closed.) It is easily large enough for both of us to sleep back there if necessary. Additionally, there is virtually no reasonable limit to how many bags, etc. we can bring on vacation. When we were in Maine on vacation a few years back (when we still had the 2005 van), we bought a very large workbench from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. It is 68” long x 30” wide x 36” tall and weighs a ton, it is very solidly built, and they only wanted $60 for it. I only thought twice about it because one of the power seats had broken on that van and as we knew it was on its way out, we had it welded into place instead of repairing it. As a result, the middle row seat on the passenger side could no longer be folded into the floor since the floor piece that lifts up to allow stowing could no longer be lifted high enough with the immovable front passenger seat blocking it. I did a quick measurement and figured the workbench would probably still fit and it did! Even with all of our luggage for a week long vacation and some other smaller antiques we had found, we still had room in the van on the way home. (As a brief aside, the people at the store agreed that I could make sure it would fit before I paid and the older gentleman who helped me load it was very happy to not have to lug it back into the building!) We actually bought it to use as a sort of rustic island in our kitchen and it looks great.

Obviously, minivans are also great for moving people. This van can hold seven people, in comfort. My 80-year-old mother-in-law has been known to jump into the rearmost seats on occasion with no trouble. The middle row is two captain’s chairs that are very comfortable and the third row is a split bench seat. As mentioned, the interior is very luxurious with leather seats (heated in the front), a surprisingly good sound system, built-in GPS, DVD player in the middle row, etc. There are cup holders and charging ports galore and really nice soft lighting in the middle and back row that doesn’t bother the driver at all. One thing I didn’t like about the 2005 version was that it had no center console and lacked storage in general. The 2015 model has a center console with tons of storage (including a sort of hidden sliding storage space), as well as two glove compartments. Additionally, when the seats are in place, there is a huge amount of storage in the space they fold into.

Another nice feature is the ride height. One of the first things my wife noticed about our first minivan was how much she liked sitting up higher in traffic. I definitely notice a great field of vision in the van and with all the monster-sized trucks and SUVs out there, that height is definitely appreciated. Additionally, my wife has had some medical issues that make it very uncomfortable for her to ride in any vehicle that puts her knees at or above the height of her hips so pretty much anything lower than an SUV or van is no good for her on anything but a quick trip around town.

SUV Mileage is Poor

Speaking of SUVs, the MPG on those larger vehicles is a killer. We have always had one 4-wheel drive vehicle. Since we live in a suburban/rural area it is a basic necessity. When I was a cop I obviously had to be able to get work no matter what and even since then it’s nice to know you can get out in an emergency if needed. We have run the gamut from standard 4x4s (a Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty) to an AWD sedan (Ford 500) and a Subaru Legacy wagon years ago but regardless, they are all terrible on gas. I’m actually looking for a newer 4WD now, the Liberty is on its way out and I’m looking at everything from the Subaru Outback to full size pickup trucks so I’ll probably always have a 4WD around, if needed. The Grand Cherokee, which for some crazy reason had a V-8 in it, got about 12 mpg. Granted, it took off like a rocket and I enjoyed cruising up the highway in it, but I did not enjoy the gas bills. The Ford 500 got mid- to high-teens and occasionally 20 mpg on the highway. Our current Jeep Liberty gets about 16-17 mpg, maybe 18 on a good day if I’m on the highway. But, in contrast, the 2015 van has consistently gotten right around 20 mpg and as high as 28 mpg on trips. I usually drive in the 70-75 range on the highway so it’s not as if I’m hyper-miling either. Regardless, we get way better mileage in the van than in any 4-wheel drive vehicle we’ve had.

And speaking of 4-wheel drive, that would be one area where some might say, “Aha, but you don’t have 4-wheel drive in your Soccer Mom van!” True, I do not. However, two things. First, you can buy an all wheel drive minivan. It’s the Toyota Sienna. A friend has one and he says it is built more like a truck. Even looking at it, I could see that it was very sturdy and much more truck-like than van-like. Naturally, there are trade offs. First, the middle seats cannot be stowed in the Sienna, you have to remove them. I thought this was only on the AWD model but a quick check online shows that even the 4WD model’s middle seats have to be taken out to make use of the full cargo area. That is a huge detriment in my mind; you lose one of the main advantages of a minivan-versatility.

Secondly, the Sienna minivan, being 4WD is actually very good in the snow, particularly if a good set of snow tires are put on in the winter months. In all but the worst snowstorm, I wouldn’t feel unsafe in the van. And, if the storm is that bad I probably won’t be out in it anyway. Also, on my Jeeps I’ve always insisted that they have the low range in case I get stuck. Well, guess what, I’ve literally never used it. Never. Now that may be a testament to the Jeep’s standard 4WD system (or to my wicked-awesome driving skills!) but I tend to think 4WD is overrated to some degree. So, while I’ll probably always have one, I am again not all that concerned about the van not having it.

Finally, while most people would not think of it as such, our van can pull a small travel trailer. My brother-in-law recently bought one that he pulls with his Ford Escape and upon checking the specs I see that I could pull the same unit with the van. We’ve talked about getting one for years and the fact that we could pull it with our comfy van is another plus for it.

Well, there you have it. The humble minivan is not for everyone but it certainly suits our daily needs and our preparedness needs as well. Happy (mini)vanning!




38 Comments

  1. In the paradigm change now in progress, the markets crashing and globe headed into a depression, I would have at least one old naturally aspirated (carburetor) vehicle that is popular in my region, that anyone could work on, even if it only a 2wd drive pick up. 4WD is certainly desirable, yet these older pick ups are often driven into the ground, and often twice the price. With tire chains, and a load of wood in the back, a 2WD can be surprisingly good in the snow. As an old mechanic, fuel injection is not all that difficult to work on, yet with all the emission controls and modular electronic components that are mini computers that require another computer to run diagnostics, all of which comes out of Asia, returning to simple to work on vehicles is good idea. Good luck finding spare parts, and shops in the boonies that can work on it in the future as well. These diagnostic machines are horribly expensive, and so are the mechanics these days. These shops may not survive in great numbers, especially in rural areas. When I started, shop rates were $25.00/hour.
    Yes, the carburetor is much less efficient, but any one can learn how to rebuild it in a pinch. Get a rebuild kit for the carburetor, and you’ll likely be able to keep it going for a very long time. This not possible with modern vehicles. Frankly, I would not own anything that a shade tree mechanic couldn’t fix up. Probably my best vehicle that can do it all is a 1984 Chevy 1 ton with a 7 x 12′ flatbed with extra spring stacks in the rear, and air bagged in the front. It’ll handle up to 2 cords. The 2 barrel carb on a 307 V-8 sips gas, and can use the accessories, from radiators to starters, from common 350 Chevy motors, and other small block V-8’s that are in this area. If needed, it will haul a ton or four of anything, including people, and can even double as a camper.

      1. That is shocking. Ludicrously high. I should’a stuck with wrenching. Of course half the shop rate no longer goes to the mechanic.

        Another strategy to save money is to buy a wrecked vehicle, same year and model, or model that has the same or similar drive train as yours, or one with out a title at a bargain price that is a known good runner that can be test driven, and use these for parts. One can get more bargains by buying one with a bad motor, and use the rest of the vehicle to support your daily driver. The home fleet should all be the same, or have similar drive train, and become future part doners at some point. Even if you cannot work on it yourself, the savings in major and then minor component will be significant over time. Most shade tree mechanics can use your shade tree, and install components that are obviously defective.
        The EFI, and emissions systems are now very reliable, and usually don’t need to be worked on if emissions testing is no longer required in your area. However, the simpler the vehicle the better.

        I began doing major engine work out of necessity at the age of 16 with only a Motors Manual as a guild, because the 1967 Ford was simple to work on. A kid today would not likely be able to do this now, given the complexity, and special and expensive tools required. If a kid who did not know he could not disassemble and repair a motor could, then anybody can. Necessity is the mother of invention, and the can-do spirit. At one time, long ago and far away, this is how many mechanics got their start. I will not own anything that I cannot work on. This has saved me thousands of dollars, and paid out when I did not have a dime.

    1. I have had good luck with OBD-I fuel-injected (throttle body) GM vehicles (early 1980s to 1996). They give the advantages of fuel injection, but are much simpler to work on than the later, OBD-II vehicles. I suspect less susceptible to EMP as well.

      1. Yes, those are very reliable, inexpensive, easy to change out and rebuild, and because it has been in use for long time, ubiquitous. Parts houses will stock those as well. However, given the popularity of these rigs, parts stores will sell out. Fortunately, rebuilt TBI carbs are inexpensive enough to have on the shelf. Carburetor rebuilt kits run about from $25.00 to $50.00 for many of them. Spare filters and wearing parts are also inexpensive for this era, and the vehicle is relatively easy to work on. I like Chevy’s for a reason. Given that vintage vehicles are well, vintage, a good example could be hard to find. 1996 and earlier Chevy’s are a good choice.

  2. Another advantage of the minivan is that you can live in it . Granted a bit cramped, but you can set it up for minimalist living. There are a number of youtube videos on the subject. They are probably more affordable than full sized vans also.

  3. I just, finally, broke down and bought a new Dodge Grand Caravan. It was a 2019 at 18,000.00 CDN (that’s like 14,000 USD).

    So, yeah, we had our first real 7 passenger test when the whole family + friend (that’s 4 car seats + adults) piled in for a hockey game. The kids weren’t fighting, there is lots of space. The stow and go’s are brilliant. Lots of pickup, even with a full vehicle.

    I used to drive an OLD caravan back when I was on the oil rigs and working forestry, which involved (especially in the Spring) navigating terrible, muddy, washed out roads in Northern Alberta/ BC. Never had a problem getting stuck (though there were some ‘pucker-factor’ moments). This was without AWD. It was actually fine. Did lots of driving, for many years, on those backcountry logging roads.

    A winch would be brilliant for piece of mind. I am actually putting a tow hitch on this Spring (for carrying extra gear) and it would take a hitch mounted gas winch that I use for tree work.

    Yeah, love my minivan. Great piece of kit!

  4. Spot- if you think 4wd low range is over rated you haven’t been far enough off the beaten path! It certainly has its place. I own a Jeep Wrangler (old with leaf springs, like a cj) and a Toyota Sienna. The Sienna is by far the best vehicle I have EVER owned, mechanically.

  5. Too funny. My husband loved your article. We have a honda odyssey which he used as his primary car. It works for everything. We get great gas mileage in the mid 20/mpg and it fits all of our gear.

    Not funny but true. We tested out packing and heading to our retreat location. That was a wake up call and we now live in our permanent retreat location. Another subtle message around planning.

    And yes our silver minivan is a gray haired man blending in like a gray man concept. Its all gray from this point on pretty much. The next 90 days are going to be wild.

  6. We have had a number of minivans over the years and completely agree with the authors view that they make fine vehicles for getting out of Dodge should the need arise. Here are a few stats about our Dodge Grand Caravans (2006):

    1. Up to 28 mpg highway. Routinely got 26 mpg fully loaded, and 20+ mog loaded and towing a trailer.

    2. Stow and go seating opens a tremendous amount of cargo space when needed while still allowing for various seating arrangements vs. cargo.

    3. The 3.8L engine was virtually bullet proof. Easy to maintain, very reliable, cheap to fix and adequate power.

    4. We’ve had a few of these vans and the rumors about faulty transmissions were completely false (at least in our generation van). We changed the fluid every 30k miles and we towed loaded trailers over capacity limits through mountain regions. Our friends who had this van never had problems either.

    5. Front wheel drive was great in the snow and ice as long as we had good all-season tires on the van. We lived in a mountainous redoubt region for a few years with very steep hills on our private road and the van had no problems making it to the house in with up to 6-7” of snow or packed snow/ice. It was very sure footed on snowy highways.

    6. The stow and go seating wells make fine out-of-sight storage areas for things you don’t want seen. A handy person could design a lock system for the well covers.

    7. We installed load lifter overload shocks to help handle trailer loads.

    Last van had about 200k miles on it when we sold it. Current van has about 200k miles on it. They can go for 300-350k miles if cared for with routine maintenance. I am searching for a 2007-2008 with low miles (under 60k) at the right price. Paying $7k is far more appealing than the new $40k vans on the lot today.

    The only downside to our preferred generation of these vans is low ground clearance and a leaky sunroof. I avoid sunroofs like the plague now.

    Anyway, if you are looking for a used daily driver that can double as an escape vehicle capble of fitting family, a dog or two, full packs and supplies, a rooftop cargo container and towing a trailer PLUS decent mpg then the Dodge Grand Caravan with the 3.8 L V6 engine and stow and go seating might be a good choice. As with all vehicles, getting one with low miles and maintenance records can be challenging. Also be careful as fuel efficiency was not very good until the 2005/2006 model hit the market. There was programming change in how the transmission worked (I think) and our 2002 van offered 22-23 mpg performance while later model years with that engine/transmission combination offered better highway efficiency.

  7. Good article and gets people thinking, but a few tips from my perspective.

    1) Tinted windows are a must, limo tint the best all the way around
    2) you need to be able shoot out of 3 sides and need to have windows that retract to give that opportunity.
    3) Your license plate should be in a state where you only need the back the license plate and remove the front. Cover the license plate with a camera shield which blocks photos from registering. Or use a spray paint clear coat which blinds the flash from roadside cameras.
    4) You need a gun vault or a safe. Something hidden and can’t be opened by law enforcement in a routine stop.
    5) If you have the money, ballistics protection in the doors-or at least the driver’s side and passenger side doors.
    6) You must not live in the Redoubt–Cuz a 4×4 is an absolute must, especially in my region. Snow plows might not be out during WTSHTF, or at least not as readily on the roads and salt and sand might not be available for the roads.
    7) You need to have a rig. A CB with tuned antenna for your region.
    8) Storage compartments for MREs, winter clothing, water, flares, roadside tool kit, battery charger, and camping supplies.

    Older vehicles, with less computer involvement are optimal for Preppers. Autonomous driving cars, which drive themselves, will be the wave of the future, and the wave of government control blocking routes for those cars by government computer systems in regions of “interests”.

    I would upgrade to a 4×4 SUV or a 4×4 pickup with a long bed and cap for the bed. Both you can live in as well.

    1. I’ve got a 56 Chevy wagon with mid 70’s normally aspirated 350, no power anything, heater delete, so less things to leak/break.

      Has roof rack and trailer hitch. Obviously not 4wd, but no snow where I live. Problem is, is not is not gray man approved and attracts much attention.

      1. @Will…

        You make an excellent point. Not very “grey” in a TEOTW scenario. That is why I would shy away from those tactical black SWAT armored vehicles and those military surplus vehicles if you must travel to a BOL. An SUV or pickup that is 4×4 will get you through checkpoints much quicker and also you’re able to make your own road around a checkpoint in an extreme situation [confiscation of money/firearms and wares, rape of women at checkpoints, UN troops from Iran/Russia/China on American soil, et al.]

        However, a SWAT vehicle is good if you’re prepared to bug-in on your large acreage property. The surplus military vehicles also have their place on those large properties in the American Redoubt-you can pull anyone out of a ditch/snowbank, drive on roads not plowed, perform work on your ranch, and even set up your own checkpoint which Law Enforcement can’t breach. Not that you want to block LEOs from their job, but you want ensure the roadblock is secure from any threat. Wink Wink!

    2. Jefferson-interesting points. I fail a few: my state does not allow dark tint-the mechanic is actually required to remove it before passing its inspection. We also have two plates so no good their either lol. Thanks for your comments.
      PS-I know, time to move!

  8. As for SUVs and gas mileage, my 2015 jeep patriot sport consistently gets 26 to 28 on the highway, and around 23 in the city. At 144,000 miles its still going strong. The rest seat folds down, increasing cargo room. I’ve often thought one person could live fairly comfortably in it, 2 would be cozy, and in an absolute pinch, 2 adults and one small child could make it work.

  9. We have a 1997 Jeep Cherokee that we don’t drive right now but I won’t give it up yet. Less than 200,000 miles

    We also have a 2007 Avalanche that we’re only driving once in a while since husband has a heavy duty work truck

    Daily vehicle is 2010 Ford Escape (Dads, they aren’t able to drive anymore so I use this to get them to Dr’s, ect and they can’t get in and out of the Jeep or the Avalanche

    I REALLY have a crush on the new Jeep Gladiator!!! Oh boy that thing looks cool!! (Can you tell I’m a total Tomboy)!
    I think I might go drool over it today for a few minutes before going to Mom and Dads

    1. It’s okay to be a Tom Boy…. But not single and liberated [this new teaching today, phoo-ie]! Take it from Ole Granny, a woman is seated properly in society with a good man as her covering. She’s also leaps and bounds ahead when she’s married during a TEOTWAWKI. A three strand cord is tougher than a two strand cord.

      God Bless!

  10. Your write up is spot on. I purchased a 1997 Plymouth Voyage from a neighbor about twelve years ago. At that time our local mechanic friend suggested we replace the timing belt because that was the only thing that might go wrong in his judgement. That was at 90,000 miles. That vehicle hauled kids, grand kids, groceries and tools to our remote Alaska town. We drove to Arizona/ Alaska multiple times and the vehicle just wouldn’t quit humming. The removable seats allowed great flexibility and the interior super comfortable. The front wheel drive was very useful even in the desert backroads.

    The van is still going strong …. I gave it to a financially challenged elderly couple that needed a vehicle.

  11. Fun read! Thank you, Spotlight!

    Although we converted to trucks a lifetime ago, we have lots of great memories of our full sized Ford van! We could carry the family comfortably with room to spare for all our travel accoutrements. Those were terrific times of grand adventure for us as a younger family. Travel was a tradition for my parents who wanted us all to experience the beauty of the country, and the beauty of her many people. My husband and I wanted to share those experiences also with our own children, and we made many trips to favorite sites across the U.S. The world was troubled, but far less so than today as we look back on it all. We miss those days, and the van too even with as much as we enjoy our pick-ups now for their sturdy reliability and practicality.

  12. we are on our 3rd minivan–2005 Honda Odyssey…we love them for all the reasons stated in your article..I put a trailer hitch and brake system and transmission cooler on this van..we pull a 8ft x 15ft self contained Coleman travel trailer and we put our 17ft canoe on top the van–load up the remaining van with paddles, life jackets, coolers, camping chairs, generator and fuel and ANYTHING else we need…on the back of the trailer we attach our bicycles or put on a 30″ x 60″ carrying tray…when I am not pulling the trailer I go van camping with all the seat out except front two..I put in a cot with sleep bag, pillows and blankets and ALL my gear stashed under the cot and “tied up” in the rest of the cargo area (I carry alot of gear and water). If we had to we could go for weeks with this configuration without the canoe and substituting a covered carrier on to bicycles on a rack on the back…I have camped this way all year long even winter times with temps at -10…and I will continue to use my mini van until I upgrade to a full sized van with a V8 motor and larger rack on top…

  13. I purchased a Honda Odyssey for many of the same reasons as spotlight. I wanted good mileage, plenty of interior space for hauling gear, and a trailer hitch rated for 3500 lbs. I use the hitch to pull my utility trailer and my pop up camper. Without trailer I get about 27+ MPG on highway. With the camper my mileage on the highway goes down to maybe 16-18 mpg. Power in the van is good, enough so that the front wheels will spin pulling out of steep driveways onto the street. The only place power has been short is crossing 10,000 ft elevation passes in Colorado pulling a 3500 lb trailer with another 1000lbs of gear inside the vehicle, basically GVW or over for the van. I still made it over the passes. My first camper was 2200 lbs. It pulled great and you could hardly tell is was behind you. We upgraded to a 2750 lb empty camper for more space. I can tell its behind me. I’m now looking for an upgraded vehicle that will tow more to reduce transmission and vehicle wear. I want similar cargo room, mileage over 25 on the highway, and good reliability. Ideally I will eventually find a pickup with 8000 lbs of towing capacity and good mileage without going diesel. Put a top on it and I have space. Needless to say I’m still looking and saving.

    Right now I plan to keep the van for weekend trips to my future cabin in the woods. The van is nice to drive, will keep construction materials and supplies dry, and will carry furniture and other large gear trip by trip without needing to rent a truck.

  14. OK, hold my beer. I had a 1984 Ford E250, six cylinder 15 passenger van. I loved it, but it was 2wd. Bought a new 1999 F350 diesel crew cab and never looked back. My mechanic says the fuel injection system is not likely to be affected by EMP effects, and it’s a fact that Ford has its own EMP simulator. According to my source on the EMP Commission, Dodge products are the worst (except their 1990 to 1992 Cummins trucks).
    For civilized women, we owned a 2008 Toyota Sequoia until last week when the wife bent it really well in a crash. Total loss. But she walked away without a scratch. Worth every penny for the gas i put through the tail pipe. Replaced it with a 2010 Sequoia this week.
    Last summer, I had my F350 loaded to the gills with gear I was moving to the ranch. The trans failed, at mile 434,000. OK, that happens. But I was able to get all the stuff from the truck packed into that 08 Toyota! The Sequoia tows 9,000 lbs….so a trailer with water, fuel, food, will get you a lot further than a mini-van and a tank of gas. A family should have a civilian equivalent of a C-130 Hercules in the drive way. The 2008 Sequoia never let us down, always started right up with a roar, and handles deep snow and ice with dignity. Locking differentials, standard. Traction control, standard. And the frame is built like an Iowa class battleship. Aside from friction pads and one radiator, it never broke. And that buys a lotta gas. Rides like a dream, power galore. Wife installed the remote start kit at a shop (I call it the Mafia Staff Car start kit).
    If you buy quality, and do your part, a modern rig shouldn’t need a barn yard mechanic. The 20 year old Ford will likely need some help at some point. But it’s cruising past 460,000.
    As far as fuel economy goes, it isn’t important if your family members are dead or worse. Put steel around them. Gas is $2.30 a gallon, blood is $1200 a pint.

  15. 1) Actually, it is People living in urban and suburban areas who most need 4WD when thing go belly up. To cross over medians in massive traffic jams in order to do a U-turn, climb curbs onto sidewalks, climb over heavy debris in the streets, etc. Look at the photos of New Orleans streets after Hurricane Katrina, for example.

    2) I live near the border of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia. To suppress the coronavirus outbreak there, the governor of Pennsylvania has just issued an emergency order closing schools, large public gatherings,etc. Grocery stores, drug stores and gas stations are to remain open but he has urged all other retail establishments to close.

    Two large shopping malls, a casino etc are closed for two weeks at least. I went to three local whiskey stores to stock up on Everclear grain alcohol but all three were sold out. Local Costco and grocery stores all out of Lysol, rubbing alcohol, bleach etc and have limits on purchases of rice, sugar and flour.

    3) What is interesting is that the LOCAL liberal county government has quarantine powers as well and used them to stop a large gun show (2000 tables) at the Oaks Exhibition Center scheduled for this weekend. I can’t imagine why.

    4) I noticed Spotlight mentioned working on surveillance as a PI. I suggest he also write an article on that subject. There are some texts on the subject but it would really be valuable to hear from someone with practical experience.

    Countersurveillance is one of the essential tools/methods/skills of protective services (bodyguarding, executive protection, counterterrorism, espionage, etc.). I am not very knowledgable but it seems to me you can’t really understand how to do countersurveillance without also knowing surveillance.

    For example, if you analyze how someone can surveil your property you then know which nearby locations (perches) are likely to be used as observation posts by a hostile and hence which locations you need to keep an eye on to get early warning of a threat.

    As STRATFOR and others have noted, hostiles (.eg, kidnappers) always do preliminary surveillance of a target and that is the best opportunity to spot them (and follow them back to their home base to identify them and who they are working for if not just themselves.)

    Much written on the subject is oriented toward suburban/urban areas. Rural areas have some overlap but also some important differences.

  16. Interesting to see a Caravan as a survival vehicle. The minute they came out, I knew I had to have one, got a used’ 85 caravan in ’88. It performed above-and-beyond up to 240,000 miles. While most SUV’s and vans struggled to get 10 MPG, my Caravan got 20+ under all conditions, include A/C on. Traction was great, was used to deliver pizzas and newspapers in the Colorado mountains in winter. I credit a lot of it to the excellent Mitsubishi 2.6 liter G54B engine. The basic engine is/was used worldwide in cars, trucks, agricultural, and industrial applications, and parts should be available indefinitely.

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