When it comes to outliving the undead and/or surviving major disasters, who wouldn’t love having access to a vehicle like The Batmobile, Dead Reckoning or The Mach 5? These motorized transports offer everything from high-tech weapons and shielding systems to brute force, tactical defense systems and the ability to outrun and/or outmaneuver just about any other vehicle out there. Unfortunately, when it comes to real-world survival, most people simply don’t have access to such movie-myth vehicles and transport. But don’t worry, hope is not lost… you’ll just have to get a little more hands on and a little more creative with what already lies before you.
In an effort to be ready, many folks are taking it upon themselves to beef-up and/or ‘prep’ their vehicles for the apocalypse with after-market mods. Some of these can easily and legally be done in your own backyard with minimal supplies and tools, while others are a little more dicey to do on your own or without permission or permit from local law enforcement.
No one method or mod will keep you alive, but a well-balanced and properly applied set of both offensive and defensive measures, with a few utilitarian ones tossed in for good measure, just might save your life some day.
MAKE IT YOURS: When it comes down to it, not all mods are created or executed equally. Not everything works for every type of vehicle or survivor and not every one is capable of manufacturing mods on their own. And, with an endless list of after-market options available – some legal and some not -, make sure to check local and state laws before putting anything into place.
Wire Mesh - Available just about everywhere and commonly called chicken-wire, a single layer of this simple solution doesn’t do a lot against the undead or rogue survivors when they attack in numbers greater than just a few. But, when layered and off-set from one another, chicken-wire could be one of the simplest ways to reinforce your windows while still leaving a fairly unobstructed view of your surroundings.
Chain-Link – This fairly heavy-gauge and versatile material is a major step up in durability and effectiveness from chicken-wire, with the added benefit of only needing a single layer at a time. Perfect for covering windows, a sunroof and even protecting the head and tail lights, chain-link is a great way to go when you’re looking for a simple after-market apocalyptic car mod.
Metal Plating – From trash can lids to metal siding, roofing panels and more, this after market mod can be cobbled together from an incredibly wide variety of sources and materials. Easily applied by welding, nuts/bolts, sheet metal screws or even heavy-duty adhesives, a layer of properly applied plating can protect both you and the contents of your vehicle from the prying hands and eyes of other survivors, undead hordes and whatever else might come your way…. but don’t over do it. Added weight often means slower speed and degraded fuel efficiency, two things you could do without during an apocalypse or other major disaster. And if you aren’t careful, you’ll get caught with tires spinning in the muck of an undead world.
Spot-Lights – Installed on both the driver and passenger sides of the vehicle, a simple set of moveable spotlights can make a world of difference, especially when attempting escape maneuvers and scouting or scavenging missions in the dark. While a bit of extra lighting could be a life-saver, it’s important to remember this: You Are Not A Lighthouse.
Steel Bars – Helpful for constructing a roll-cage and other basic reinforcements to the body of a vehicle, steel bars can also be placed over the grill of a car to boost ramming power for breaking down debris of nudging stalled vehicles out of the way. And, when attached to the front and rear of a vehicle, pointing out like a lance, you shouldn’t have any problem skewering through any bone-bags that get in the way… think 40-mph+ spikes backed by a ton or two of metal mass.
Bullet-Proof Glass (or) Plexiglass – When used properly, this mod could be a literal life-saver all on its own. It wont just keep the grasping claws of the undead away from your throat, it’ll help stop bullets as well… and that is something serious to consider when you aren’t the “last man or woman on earth”.
Camouflage – While a full camo cover might not be realistic for many survivors (and may even make your vehicle stand out in some areas), a simple mid-level grey color is your next best bet. This easy-to-apply and covert color blends in with just about anywhere you go, while white, black, red, green, etc. tend to stand out against a skyline or off-colored backdrop. Think of a shadow, and not an abyss of color or obvious attempt to blend in.
Bumper/Grille Guards – Great for both defensive and offensive measures, a well designed and applied bumper/grille guard can offer added protection and ramming power for the front and/or rear of just about any vehicle out there, as well as a sturdy tie-down for simple on-the-move mods like spikes, cargo space, etc.
V-Plow – This sometimes difficult to acquire, construct, or apply modification can provide the ability to glide through more than just a chain-link fence or bit of foliage in your way. With a good plow in place and a powerful enough vehicle behind it, a survivor could easily smash through fences, bay doors, some road blocks and many other obstacles… including avenues of the undead. Keep in mind that to maintain safe and effective travel, this mod needs to be easily removable once installed. There will be times when a plow hinders your adventure, rather than help it.
Sunroof – These simple hatches provide a level of access to the outdoors that you simply can’t get without them. If you’ve got a sunroof you’ve got better air circulation, an emergency egress, an extra vantage point, and even the ability to have a pop-up “turret” of sorts (whether you have a mounted weapon or not). Even if it means cutting a hole in the roof, we highly recommend adding this mod to your list of “must-haves”… just make sure you’ve got a way to seal it back up in case it rains.
Arrow Slits – Taking their name from Medieval times, arrow slits were used for the very thing they we’re names for – arrows. Strategically placed in the walls and fortifications of a building, arrow slits allowed archers to defend their location effectively, while presenting very low risk to themselves. This same method can be used in a vehicle, whether adapted for fire arms, spear points, cross bows or other projectiles and med/long-range weaponry.
Bike Rack – A secondary means of transportation could mean the difference between life and death, should your vehicle break-down or you have to abandon it for one reason or another (see: Bug Out Bike). The addition of a good bike-rack makes carting around an extra set of wheels easy instead of impossible.
Lock Box – The addition of a well-placed and secured lock-box could be key to saving your life and the lives of your fellow survivors some day. Whether located within the body of a vehicle or in the bed of a pickup truck, knowing that you’ve safely and securely locked away potentially life-saving supplies and gear is a load off your already stressed and over-worked mind.
Solar Panels – Fairly easy to integrate into just about any vehicle (though prohibitively expensive for some), even a single panel can help provide enough power to charge/recharge everything from batteries, radios, lights and more. Imagine being the only survivor with electric after the grid goes down… you might not be king or queen, but you will be an invaluable resource for those left alive when the undead rise.
Remove The Seats – While a bit of a chore for many vehicle types, removing the extra seats adds space for critical supplies and gear, as well as lightening the vehicle load. With a lighter load comes better gas mileage, and that is something every survivor can take advantage of in the apocalypse. And if nothing else, maybe the added space will mean a nice place for a nap.
Roof Rack -The addition of external storage space in the form of a roof rack is priceless. Perfect for extra fuel, tents, spare tires, tools and other gear and supplies that you don’t need immediate access to, you’d be surprised how much gear a good roof rack can handle… not to mention the benefits of transporting large game (see: How to Eat Wild Game Safely) and other materials too big to fit inside your vehicle.
Winch – These simple, yet extremely powerful tools can be used to open locked doors, remove rubble from the road, set traps, perform rescues and even construct dwellings and perform amazing feats of engineering. Varied greatly in size and ability and cost, research the variables and get the one that’s right for you. And, when it comes down to it, don’t discount the utility and abilities of a manual hand-crank winch.
Towing Hitch – Useful for hauling both cargo units and other vehicles through the wastelands of the world. And, when coupled with heavy-duty cordage, a towing hitch can help take down doors, fences, gates and all sorts of other obstacles and barriers that just might be in your way.
Studded Tires - With debris, Zombie gore and who knows what else, strewn across the streets of an apocalyptic world – not to mention things like rain, snow, ice, sand, dirt, mud and more – a set of studded tires can go a long way to keeping you on the road and in the right direction.
Water and Fuel Tanks – With clean water and useable fuel likely among the most precious resources in an apocalyptic world, adding a few small water tanks and extending the size of or adding a reserve fuel tank could easily mean the difference between life and death.
Communication – The addition of a Radio or CB (along with replacement parts) could be crucial to keeping you in touch with the world around you (see: Communication After The Apocalypse)… and don’t forget a set of solar panels to go along with this.
IN CONCLUSION: When all is said and done, mods are a great way to customize your vehicle and prepare for whatever disaster or undead might come your way, but they aren’t the only things you need. Basic mechanical knowledge, along with the tools and supplies to use it, is an absolute must for any survivor that plans on using motorized vehicles as a means of transport/security. After all, what good does a anti-apocalypse vehicle do you with a flat tire and no way to get a new one on?
While this isn’t an all inclusive list and it skips over many mods like flame-throwers, smoke screens and mounted machine guns, among others, we’ve included what we feel are some of the most realistic mods needed for survival when all hell breaks loose.
Before you get to actually changing anything around on your vehicle/vehicles, remember these three cardinal rules when it comes to modding your mobility:
1. Call your local law enforcement offices and body shops to see if anyone can tell you more about the legality of any mods you are considering.
2. Weigh the usefulness of the mod vs. the aesthetic. Will it really repel whatever type of attack or damage you’re concerned about? Does it actually assist in your survival? Or is it all for looks? If you answered ‘yes’ to that last question, drop the mod and reevaluate your idea of what it means to be a survivor.
3. Remember that it isn’t always about what can get IN the car, sometimes you need to GET OUT. Repelling attacks is one thing, but having quick entry and egress for yourself is just as important. Never put a modification in place that makes it MORE dangerous or difficult to enter, exit or operate your vehicle.