Bug Out Vehicles

Bug Out Vehicles

There are an almost infinite number of choices when it comes to bug out vehicle options. You have your 4×4 trucks and SUVs, retired military vehicles, ATVs, Track/Trail bikes, and even mountain bikes. Rather than make any recommendations I am simply going to tell you about my choice for a BOV and my reasoning for that choice.


Rather than choosing a traditional BOV I have gone with the original SUV, a station wagon, a 1957 Chevy Belair station wagon to be exact. There are many reasons for my choosing this vehicle the first being my love of hot rods. I have been a mechanic and a hot rodder for years so I brought my career/hobby together with my preparedness. Second, is the fact that this car is a sound investment. Too many people sink obscene amounts of money into their BOVs, most of which have a low resale value and are constantly depreciating in value. Any amount of money that is put into my vehicle will have a definite return. Parts and performance upgrades are also readily available for this vehicle.  Nearly every single nut and bolt of this car is available from aftermarket vendors. The vehicle is also extremely easy to maintain so anyone with basic knowledge and a service manual can keep the car running for years. Space and seating is another of my reasons for choosing the wagon. There is no shortage of storage for equipment and personnel this rig. The seating arrangement also allows for defensive positioning of passengers on both the left and right side of the vehicle as well as the rear and that is a big plus for a BOV. The wagon is not as mobile as a 4×4 but I installed lift springs to bring the ride height up two inches and when you pair that with all terrain tires, snow chains, and posi traction rear end you still have a fair amount of mobility. If you are still worried you can always throw in a winch or a come-a-long.


In order to ensure the reliability and safety of this vehicle I replaced and rebuilt nearly every component of the old wagon. I also upgraded the braking system to dual chambered master cylinder and disk brakes. This can get a little pricey but again the car is an investment and should I ever need to sell it I would see my money returned. Even after all of the upgrades and rebuilds I still have much less invested in the car than I would have in even a base model new vehicle.


I have driven this car from coast to coast and raked up thousands of miles with only minor issues that could be fixed on the road side. In preparation for such events there are several items that I keep in the vehicle at all times.


Fan belt, Spark plugs, plug wires, cap and rotor, Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, brake fluid, gas, filters, u-joints, hose clamps, tire plug kit, spare tire (1 minimum), bottle jack, battery operated air compressor, stop leak, RTV, thread tape, misc common bolts, points and condenser, Gumout, jumper cables, solar battery charger, heavy gauge bailing wire, zip ties, JB weld, heavy duty ratchet strap, service manual, and tools. It is essential that you perform all the common tasks such as tune ups, and belt replacements and note exactly what is needed to complete these jobs so that you can pack these tools and have them in the event of a break down. All of these items can fit in about 3 milk crates and with them I can repair almost any fault I may encounter short of a catastrophic part failure and that can usually be prevented and foreseen buy proper preventative maintenance and inspections.


Currently the car has a three speed 350 turbo transmission and gets around 16 MPH. I built a mild 305 for the car and I run a 600cfm carb on it. This gives it enough power to get up and move but is still fair on the fuel consumption. This winter I plan on swapping out the transmission for a 700R4 with an overdrive gear to push the mileage up a few miles per gallon.


Thanks for taking the time to read through my ramblings. I am sure that there are a lot of people out there who disagree with me but I hope there’s some out there who find this helpful or informative.

Air Assault!



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10 thoughts on “Bug Out Vehicles”

  1. Cool Build Swabo. Sturdy, roomy classic platform. A free breathing 305 and TH350 makes for a low maintenance / decent power package.

    I think a vintage 3/4 ton Suburban with a big block would make a sweet survival / towing rig.

  2. Thank Youuuu. I thought I was wasting my time on my old hulk. But its what I have. Good list for the BOV’s BOB.

  3. Love your post thanks . We just bought a 2001 ford excursion with the V 8 gas engine it gets around 16 MPG and rides great and has lots of room . it too is not 4×4 . we opted for the extra 4 MPG over the 4×4 also we have a 2001 F 250 4×4 diesel so we have options if we need them .
    Robert W

  4. Nice!! To me bugging out is the hardest subject of survival. Where do you go? How do you go and by what route? If you have a retreat is it secure? Will it be usable? My theory is you need multiple locations within a region and a backup plan into other regions. Having only a single destination seems crazy to me because sooner or later the refugees will stumble upon you.

    Then again you have to think about what you are running from. For me its usually nothing worse then a Hurricane. I usually wait until I know we are going to get hit then just side step the storm and I’m usually on my way back home within 12 to 24 hours.

    For our family the motorhome, trailers, cars and Jeep are essential for bugging out. One car is a scout the other covers our 6 and the third is on the trailer with additional tools and supplies. On a single tank of fuel per vehicle we have a minimum range of 530 miles, which gives me a reach to the whole south east.

    Regardless of your vehicle of choice, its having the plans that will save your ass if the SHTF.

  5. Well, it doesn’t get good mpg, but in case of an emp, we have a 69 Impala 4 dr. We can fit 7 in there if we must. Huge trunk, and can put stuff on top if necessary.
    We haven’t done upgrades to it, YET! We plan on getting shocks redone, new tires, belts, hoses, etc. I’d love to be able to have the money for a better trainy, and be able to lift it a bit, but also don’t want to de-value the old girl.

  6. great article- I miss the old iron- easy to work on, room to work on it, and reasonable cost on parts. . . . I would use my F250 4×4 for a BOV, but what about an EMP strike? THAT will kill a lot of vehicles. . . . with all my critters, gardens , fruit trees, etc, I am prepared to bug -in unless there is nuclear war. . . .

  7. Well, I am already buged out, so don’t have a bug out vehicle.
    Although I do have a few odd operational vehicles that are strangely suited to MAD MAX scenarios.

    For your (tongue in cheek) consideration:

    Obvious:1999 Jeep cherokee,4X4, crash bars, roof racks, lift kit and all that entails, large off road tires and potential for thermal vision. Crappy 15 mpg, but intimidating, spare ECU and a FEMA window tag.

    Mad Max #1: 1979 mazda RX7 IT7 racecar, gutted, roll cage, fuel cell, fire system, killer lowering, lots of spares, also crappy milage (who knows)fast, radical, also stupid simple and EMP proof.

    Mad Max #2: 1978 Lotus Esprit, (1 of about 250 left) light weight, high HP, stupid simple engine, Points, side draft carbs (my 55 chevy) 43″ high, crazy handling, 34 mpg and fast as a mad rat. Also EMP proof.

    I don’t know how practical they all will be but, if it all goes to hell, I’ll put on my firesuit, helmet and carbiner adjustible wrench and have some fun. Anyone remember “On the beach”? Regards, D. BTW I like your 57 choice, makes all the sense in the world to me!

  8. I love your choice for a bug-out vehicle. When I was a youngin my family had a 57 Belair 2 door (my mother’s car). What a tank, thicker sheet metal, big beefy bumpers and NO crumple zones! Sometimes when on long trips I would climb up and lay on the shelf between the back of the rear seat and the rear window and stare up at the night sky, lost in dreams of space travel….. then my dad would stab the brakes and send me flying…. great fun. You have the 1957 version of the -Lost in Space- track vehicle…. VERY COOL.

  9. A 57 Chevy? It must have sentimental reasons. I had one and it steered like a tank. Dependable yes, but not what I would want to take off-roading. How about a school bus with a chopped top. Lots of storage and can be lightly armored cheaply. Cattle guard up front and you can probably push stalled/abandoned vehicles out of the way pretty easy. If all you have is a Rambler or Studebaker, then you have to use that!

  10. “Currently the car has a three speed 350 turbo transmission and gets around 16 MPH.”

    Ah…. that’s just too slow for me. I want the option to bug out a bit quicker.


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