If you're a believer in pop-culture doomsday scenarios, the world as we know it will end this Friday. The optimists believe December 21, 2012, will usher in a new era of peace, understanding, learning, and global harmony. The fatalists believe it will be either catastrophic polar reversal, coastal flooding of unprecedented proportions, nuclear Armageddon, and/or sudden hordes of zombies with an insatiable craving for survivors' brains. Or it could be Y2K all over again. Basically, a few elevators returning to the bottom floor and opening their doors, and a small handful of already outdated computers thinking it was the turn of the 20th century. Or nothing at all.
But whichever way the world turns on 12/21/12, if it's indeed still turning, we selected the following candidates for end-of-the-world survival based on a few quasi-scientific factors, and a few just because their styling or capabilities seemed like they could come in handy in the typical doomsday scenario, if there is such a thing.
We spotted this rare specimen at the 2012 SEMA show in Las Vegas this year. There is not a great deal of technical detail or specification on this vehicle other than a billboard claiming a nuclear/biological/chemical atmospheric filter, on-board water purification, a solar power generator, armored command center and full communications network. The base vehicle appears to be a late 1970s-to-early 1980s Chevrolet C50 Kodiak truck. We're presuming it's powered by the legendarily bulletproof and fully mechanical (but not very emissions-friendly) 2-stroke Detroit Diesel. We have no idea if all the claims made on the billboard are true and functional, but we'd rather be inside this beige box when all hell breaks loose than in your run-of-the-mill factory truck.
Also from the 2012 SEMA show, the Kombat T98 is what appears to be a Russian interpretation of the Hummer H2, and possible leftover Dartz chassis from customers who didn't opt for the whale foreskin interior option. All we really know for sure is that the powertrain is an 8.1-liter GM big-block V-8 backed by an Allison transmission. The Kombat is heavily armored, and would likely stand up to roving hoards of zombies well, but its modern, electronically controlled engine might not stand up as well to an EMF attack as our next candidate.
1989-1998 Dodge Ram Cummins Diesel
Although we have no proven, lab-tested evidence this will be the case, some of the more conspiratorially minded among our readers (and staff) believe an electro-magnetic field attack could scramble and debilitate most modern electronic devices. Most engines, gas and diesel, built in the last 20 years, have partially or fully electronic engine management, leaving them potentially vulnerable in an EMF attack. But the 12-valve B-series Cummins diesel engine was fully mechanical up until the late 1990s, when it was replaced by the 24-valve, electronically controlled ISB engine. Diesels have the added advantage over gasoline engines of not needing an external ignition source, so as long as you could get the fuel pump operating, you should be good to go.
So even if Kim Jong-Un, a resurrected Montezuma zombie-king, or various other third-world rogue dictator launched an EMF attack, chances are, you could still go out to your trusty 12-valve Cummins, fire it up, and go zombie huntin'.
Dominator Tornado Chase Vehicle
Looking somewhat like a Quonset hut on wheels, or some sort of Imperial terrestrial transporter from the Star Wars series, the Dominator Tornado Chase Vehicle is based on a 2011 GMC Yukon XL. The vehicle is designed to withstand an almost direct hit from a tornado. Among the weatherproof features are reinforced steel body panels, Lexan windows, and anchoring spikes to help keep it grounded when the wind picks up. The GM Vortec Flex-Fuel V-8 may be able to run on ethanol (or, most likely, moonshine, in post-apocalyptic times), but its modern engine management would not make it the ideal choice in an EMF attack.
1967-1980 Chevrolet C10
If there's one engine that's almost universally familiar to any mechanic in North America, and even outside the Western Hemisphere, it's the Chevrolet small-block V-8. You'd be hard-pressed to find a mechanic that didn't have at least some level of familiarity with the Bow-Tie bent-eight with more than five decades in production and a surprising amount of interchangeability of parts through the years. Presumably, in a future devoid of electronic communications and advanced diagnostic tools, simplicity is key, so a pre-1980s specimen with a simple non-electronic carburetor would probably be your best bet. The later throttle-body injected models from the late '80s to early '90s are also very straightforward, but electronic engine controls could make them vulnerable to an EMF attack.