R.I.P. Banana Boat

Long time readers will have read many stories where I referenced the Banana Boat. My 1979 Mercedes 240T Wagon. A very unique car. Only the Diesel was imported to the USA in the wagon in those years. This was a grey market car.

It also had the “Taxi” trim level. Avocado green interior with cloth seats. A banana colored exterior. Hand crank windows. Manual transmission and no power steering (so also no power gadget failures nor fluid leaks). With a 2.4 liter engine and a side draft carburetor it could go 110 MPH (I had it that fast once when newer as I floored it to pass someone and was surprised when I looked down at the speedo…)

It has been part of my Armageddon Kit for decades since it is points and condenser ignition (EMP? What EMP? ;-) and can carry a lot of stuff.

But after about 270,000 miles and 39 years, it’s reached an EOL point for me. About a year? or 2? ago I took it to Chicago. On the way back, it was occasionally backfiring. This knocked the exhaust pipe off the headers, so it had a long vacation in Florida at a friends house rather than come home with me in it. Florida being much closer than California after I’d dropped down to I-10 to avoid a snow storm. Later I flew back and got the exhaust fixed, adjusted the timing, and drove it back to California.

That was it’s own adventure. Frequently it was running badly. Attempting to adjust the timing and points was frustrating. Then in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, I noticed that when I pushed a bit sideways on the distributor shaft the points gap changed by more than the setting. I was suffering from dreaded Wobbly Shaft! The bushings in the distributor were worn out.

OK, I learned to set them one way for a cold start, then after it warmed up to reset the points gap. That got it running well enough to get me home even with slightly variable timing / gap. But by then, some of the backfiring had again busted the weld of the exhaust pipe to the header.

OK, I got home. Then I left it in the driveway for months. Finally got around to taking it to the Mechanic. How much to make it fine again?

Well, time and abuse take their toll. There’s a rusted out hole in the firewall under the battery (so a bit breezy on the passenger side footwell…) and some more rust in the drivers side fender. It is a replacement from an accident from before I bought the car a long time ago. Seems a couple of years living on the winter streets of Chicago with my Son had an impact. Though the rest of the body seems unrusted.

In a compression check, one cylinder is 30 Lbs, the others are fine. Since it had been tuned up just prior to the trip to Chicago, it isn’t from lack of care. Most likely a burned valve or seat (though possibly just needs adjusting but I doubt it).

Somewhere along the line the A/C mount had a bolt fail, so it needs the compressor mount reworked. The compressor is fine, but the hole the bolt goes into needs some tap and die work. That causes it to eat belts, so it isn’t belted at the moment so no A/C. The fan is OK, but makes some odd squeaky sounds sometimes… new fan or grease required I think.

Then there is the paint. Dusty finish and with some spots of rust started where the seal got a pinhole in it. Needs a paint job.

Drivers side seat wore through some few years back, so needs a recover instead of a throw cover. (Though the rest are pretty good). But a generally “getting ratty” aspect to the interior. Seems 39 years of use and things get a bit rough ;-)

Cutting to the chase: It would run me about $4000 to “make it right” per my mechanic. Likely an engine rebuild or swap, some creative body repairs. A seat cover and some paint.

For $2500 I just bought a 2001 era Wagon with 100,000 less miles on it, perfect paint and very good interior. seems that 22 years younger matters in cars. As much as I love the unique character of the Banana Boat, paying $1500 more to end up with a workable but shaky old wagon was just not on the cards.

So if anyone want’s the Banana Boat, it’s available for free for a good home. Realize that since it was Florida reg (as the Florida fly in car) it is NOT subject to the California “Cash for Clunkers” program. Being minus California smog gear, it is also not possible to get a California Reg. unless those are put back on. No government subsidy queen here. Just a unique old beast of a car.

It runs. It’s drivable. (It got here from Florida!). It could use the valves adjusted at a minimum and / or the head re-done, along with the replacement distributor put into it to make it run well enough to try another long trip. (My Mechanic has everything needed for that including a replacement distributor and machine shop to make parts if needed). One need not do the full $4k to make it “good enough to haul hay”. I’d guess about $2k would make it roadable enough.

The 240 T had very few imported to the USA. The Wiki says they were made in 1978, 79 and 80, only. And only for Europe. Once, some long time ago, IIRC, I read that a bit over 6000 were made in this model year. Few of them made it to America. I doubt any others are still alive on the roads here. (I drew a crowd at the Mercedes dealership in Florida when I went in for a service item. Most of the mechanics had never seen one, so the whole shop came over to look at it.)

But for me, I think it’s time to move on. I still have my 240D as my Apocalypse Car and at this point with just the spouse and me, and both of us headed for the retirement farm, maybe I don’t have to spend as much time prepping to be one of the guys who rebuilds technical society “After The Fall”… Having one post-EMP car is likely enough.

So there you have it. R.I.P. Banana Boat. It is too worn to be an Antique Show Car and both it, and me, are no longer needed for our ability to keep on going through EMP and adverse conditions. I’m putting my old bones in a new seat in a comfort-mobile and “moving on”. The Banana Boat is going to the bone yard at the mechanic until some parts are needed from it, or someone wants it.

In some odd way, an end of an era. I’ve had a wagon-like Apocalypse Ready vehicle since about 1983. First was Billy, an International Harvester Scout Traveler 4×4 with a Nissan Turbo Diesel engine. Then the Banana Boat. All EMP proof and able to haul large stuff on questionable fuel. No more. Now it’s only a Diesel sedan and a trunk for me.

Oh Well…

Subscribe to feed


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Human Interest and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to R.I.P. Banana Boat

  1. D. J. Hawkins says:

    Armageddon Kit indeed! You’ve always struck me as a Farnhams’s Freehold kind of guy. :-)

  2. p.g.sharrow says:

    “@ EMSmith; She is dead Jim”
    Some things are just used up and not worth fixing.
    I have one of the first IH Scouts built in my junkyard and it is totally worn out and full of rust.
    Over 230,000 miles, most on dirt and rebuilt twice. Old Scout is dead.RIP
    Sorry to hear that you are giving up on the boat, but if it is used up, time to move on. Life is too short to waste it putting up with ageing temperamental things. ;-) (wife excluded) …pg

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    It is always a bit sad to let go of a good old reliable horse, you grow attached to them even if they are machines. Like you say they have many stories after a long period of service. There are several cars I have had that I would have been very happy to buy a brand new one of the same old model and continue in the same tradition but alas no one even VW keeps the same model in service.

  4. Steven Fraser says:

    So, have you installed a Faraday cage in your ‘new’ vehicle to protect the electronics :-)

  5. philjourdan says:

    Donate it to Cars for Kidneys. You get a tax write off.

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    Most of the “donation” sites depend on the cash for clunkers process, so car must have some running registered thing going for it. Perhaps they would be fine with a Florida reg car, but frankly It’s not worth my time to find out all the rules and work out what works.

    Where it is now, it does not go to the crusher. It becomes a “parts car” on the back of the lot and parts of it can live on in other cars (perhaps even in my 240 D as the running gear are the same as is the transmission and clutch).

    Basically, I’d rather think of it as an organ donor than as a euthanasia candidate…


    Nope. Though the car body itself does much protection. I’m pretty sure a lot of cars are going to survive a nuke based EMP OK. (Radio not so much ;-) AND, as noted, I do have my old Diesel. I can’t really see me needing more than one Armageddon Sled at a time. Though I could see me buying another Diesel in the future. (Almost bought a 1985 Diesel 300TD Wagon to replace it… but at the same price, the spouse liked this one better.)


    I tend to really really use things up. That background in the restaurant where roast turkey became hot turkey sandwiches and the pan drippings went to gravy and then the left over turkey end of day became Turkey ala King and then anything after that went to turkey soup and the bones went to the dog… (After the dog was through with it, the trees got the fertilizer… nothing goes to waste…)

    So the Banana Boat goes to the land of memories. I’ll join it soon enough… The kids will have photos ;-)

    It was predominantly my “work truck” and my Florida Car. Got me to and from several contracts in Florida, with my “life on the road” kit in it. Moved my Son to Chicago (and lived there with him a couple of years while he settled in). Came back as a Florida Fly-in Car living at a friends house. Then moved a load of my stuff from there to here. It was the run back to Chicago 2 years ago that was a reach too far. “problems” started to cascade on that trip and it ended back in Florida for a while. I drove back out here where someone who knew the car could actually fix it. But it was only 1/2 way to California that the root cause (that wobbly shaft and valves issue) was figured out. By then the trip was a commitment, one way or the other.

    Now, to get it fixed up enough to once again be the Florida Car is really just too much to do and even then it would not be the same degree of reliability as it had a decade ago. It would be better to fly in to Florida and buy something there, more suited to local conditions. (Including something where you can actually find a mechanic to work on it… there are not many there. Most everyone said “Only 2000 and newer” or something to that effect and would not touch it.)

    Yet still I miss it sitting in the driveway reminding me of all those adventures. A swim in the Gulf on the Florida Panhandle at one stop. A wander out to a dirt road near Davenport Florida in another. Fishing in a lake “somewhere”. etc. etc. “All these things, and more, lost, like tears in the rain…” (Bladerunner)


    Um, yeah. Very much so! It was one of my reads in my Science Fiction binge days in the ’60s and ’70s. Heinlein influenced me a lot… Living in a rural place adding its own bit of self reliance mandatory. Dad, from a farm in Iowa with an Amish mom making sure you knew how to fix anything broke and make what you needed if it could not be fixed. (As grandpa was a working blacksmith, my Dad made sure I could work iron and we made a ‘dog leg wrench’ to adjust the brakes on a ’56 Chevy when it needed a ‘custom wrench’… The idea being even if you can buy things at the store, you ought to know how to start from raw materials and make them if money was tight.) BOTH Mum and Dad being Great Depression kids, it was impressed on me that you did not always have money as an option…

    Basically, when your parents DID live through a couple of Apocalypse Moments, they tend to make sure you know how to make it. (Great Depression. W.W.II)

    New car just got the “once over” by the mechanic. Pronounced it fine with the possible exception of a weak power steering pump. Next week or two it will go in for a more complete top to bottom, new tires in front, and that PS issue. As I got it for about $1k to $2k less than any equivalent, if all it takes is a PS pump, I’m golden.

    I figure in a year or two, I may pick up some other Diesel so both the spouse and I have a “spare car”. (She of the “can but won’t drive a stick shift” school… me of the “can but don’t like auto school” ;-) so one can be in the shop or in Florida at any one time and nobody cares. A nice mid ’80s Mercedes Diesel would be a suitable BBII replacement.. but I might get silver and call it the Silver Sled ;-)

    We’ll see. I’ve got about a 1 1/2 to 2 year “transition” to work through as we move our center of operations (somehow) to Florida and deprecate the “living in a house in Kalifornia”. I’ve got 40 years of accumulated “stuff” to sort and pitch out before we are done, and adding more cars to things now is not needed. I have my Armageddon Sedan, she has her daily driver wagon, and we both can share the other wagon as needed (both 6 cyl gas – but different eras so one is in-line the other a V). Can’t really see a need for much beyond that until we work out what is needed once the Florida Move is a done deal. I can see the 240D being the California Car as it can sit for months without fuel issues (and a leaky condensation collector means in Florida it “piddles on the carpet” in the passenger footwell in their torrential downpours). So 2 relatively recent gas wagons for Florida makes sense. But that’s 2 years and 2800 miles away right now. Might end up just getting a Subaru Forester in Florida and dumping the older gas wagon here. Then we’d have just 2 4×4 cars in Florida and a “Fly in” Diesel in California. Something attractive about that… Including the “no smog test required” aspect on the California Car…

    FWIW, I just removed the plate from the Banana Boat. In Florida, to retire a car, you turn in the plate. I don’t know if this can be done through the mail or not. On some future date I’ll be back in Florida anyway. Until then, I get to look at it on my desk ;-)

  7. John F. Hultquist says:

    Thanks for this one. Enjoyed it.

    The first auto I purchased was a worn out Ford convertible.
    $50 for the car. New battery. New tires. Big hole in the floor behind the driver’s seat.
    The cloth top was old and grey. Major hail storm; Iowa City — but the tornado missed us.
    Hail was 1/4 in. and larger. Poked holes in the cloth while newer convertible tops ripped into long streamers. Those likely had insurance.
    I had duct tape — color matched quite well.
    This reminds me of the “kids won’t know what snow is” statement.
    Now, I think, kids won’t know what great car experiences are like. Sad.

  8. H.R. says:

    I’ll raise a glass or two in memory of the Banana Boat, E.M. Maybe hum a few bars of Auld Lang Syne…😢

    Well, how ’bout that? My first ‘car’ was a ’64 International Scout in factory original chicken-crap brown. I bought it for caving. The good, wild caves in Kentucky were usually reached by dirt or marginally graveled roads.

    I loved that the interior was easy to clean; just put the sprayer on the garden hose and wash it clean. The easy-clean feature was important as one gets covered in mud when slithering through low, narrow passages.

    The guy who sold The Scout to me had grafted the clutch from a small IH dump truck into the drive train. He didn’t want to ever replace the clutch again. He also added a 30,000,000 candlepower aircraft landing light on the roof to get back to the main road in the dark. It had other uses. There were a few drivers that wouldn’t dim their lights and found themselves being (ahem) politely flashed with that.😜

    Oh… the Scout was so ugly that it was a babe magnet. It was a great excuse to ask out girls as a lot of them had never driven a stick. The indestructible clutch allowed them ride the clutch while they got the hang of easing it out at the proper rpm. Dated several girls because of that Scout and the ones that turned up their noses I knew were not the type for me.

    Good memories. Good times.

  9. Power Grab says:

    I loved this! It reminds me of how my family works. Or did work, when the folks who lived through the Depression and wars were around.

    I have an old Toastmaster oven that’s 42 years old. It’s a System III, or something like that. Bigger than your typical toaster oven. This is like a toaster oven on steroids. It has a slow heat setting that makes the best slow-cooked pot roasts ever! They get real dark on top, but inside they’re like Arby’s roast beef. The leftovers are great!

    Well, a few years ago the plug blew off the cord. As in “bang!” I haven’t been able to bring myself to discard this oven, but a replacement can be bought on Ebay for $130-$150. This is not the time of year to drop that kind of cash. Well, yesterday the electrician who came to replace 2 light switches said I could hire him to replace the oven’s plug-less cord with a grounded model. Woohoo! Now I can get back to making my favorite pot roasts (“low and slow”, like overnight).

    I don’t mind tearing into computers, but appliances that create heat aren’t something I’m comfortable experimenting with. If I my dad were alive, he would probably make it happen…

    I wish I had property to store BB on. I have a gut feeling that they should make a movie of your life. :-) If they had the authentic BB, that would be gravy.

  10. Great, loving article. Only one thing is missing: The photograph. You REALLY need to put a photograph of the old boy at the top of this post. Please !

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    I have one in the library somewhere (used it in a prior article) and looked for it. When I manage to find it I intend to retrofit it above… From happier days on one of my Florida trips…

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    This story has a picture of a silver SLC which is what I drove to Florida about 4 years ago. It kept running after hitting a deer in Illinois and got me to my contract there, but didn’t get to come back here. It was given to a friend down that way who’s said he intends to slowly restore it as a project. I hope to some day see it running around Orlando again.


    From 7 years ago, a 3 day marathon drive to Florida in the Banana Boat:


    The run to Chicago, when the exhaust became an issue:


    Another trip out to Florida to get the Banana Boat ready for a run home. Adventures with an old Diesel Mercedes…


    Then when I was ready to make that run for home in the Banana Boat, I had to get there somehow…

    Going back to Florida to pick up the Banana Boat again was it’s own adventure:


    The Grey Dog and me…

    A mid point “check in” on a fast run from Florida to Silicon Valley in the Banana Boat:


    Not that long ago, but it was the first time the “wobbly shaft” was likely starting to clearly show some effects:

    The Banana Boat was cranky for a while. A change of points and fussing with the ‘gap’ has to purring at 80 MPH now (though a bit rumbly still at low speed, likely running a bit advanced on the timing.

    Somewhere around there, too, was the exhaust starting to open up again, thus the “rumbly” starting.

    Still have not found the one where I was in Florida and put up a picture of the Banana Boat. But it was way back in time. 2009? Maybe earlier…

    But it was my vehicle of choice on my very first Disney contract. Probably 15? years ago now. Did coast to coast 6? times for that contract. Out at the start, a couple of in the middle back and forths’s, then back at the end.

    There’s been a lot of miles of adventures in that car. IIRC, it had about 120,000 miles on it when I got it? So somewhere around 150,000 by me and my clan. A lot happens in that amount of time in a car. It was my Son’s daily driver in High School for a few years. Then came back to me when he graduated (as he got a BMW so as not to look boring in College ;-) That was about 12 years ago. That would make my first contract run in the car about 16? years back? I think that’s about right. 2001 to 2002 era. Then it went back to him a couple of years after graduation from college when he moved to Chicago and spent a couple of years there.

    I think I have a log of most of the dates and miles “somewhere”. Maybe I’ll look for it later this next week…

  13. p.g.sharrow says:

    Old machinery and old men. ;-) I was moving my Lincoln ARC Welder/Generator the other day and remember when we got it and the projects we used it on, stretching back……………………………………………………………………………………my lord 50 years!
    Must be time to make sure it still starts and runs well. Damn handy to have when you need it…pg

  14. Glenn999 says:

    Interesting comment about retiring a car here in Florida. Never heard of it. And I’ve never done it. Wonder what the punishment is for that?

  15. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – Most states do not have a clunker cash in. So that would only work in the few that do. I have donated a car to them before (many MANY years ago). Long before there was even the idea of clunker cash in.

    I suspect that most are cannibalized for parts or scrap.

  16. E.M.Smith says:


    To reg an out of state car in Florida, there is a $200 “air quality impact” fee. To send a car to the bone yard or crusher there is no cost anywhere, near as I can tell. Just reg it non-op and move on.


    One of the “dirty little secrets” of the “cash for clunkers” is that they MUST be crushed. no parting out. This is considered a “feature” as it prevents maintenance of other old cars via junk yard parts, forcing folks into newer cars and hopefully even out of cheap cars altogether and into buses and trains…

    It totally screws the poor folks. At one time you could buy working cars here for as little as $100 (one friend sold one for that). No more. If it moves at all and is registered, it’s a $1000 minium price of entry since that’s what they pay to crush it.

    It also means your nice car that needs a $100 part from the junk yard may also end up at the crusher, but without that $1000 to you, since you can’t make it “go” without the part and all those went into the crusher.

    Needless to say, I’m no fan of “cash for clunkers” as lots of very nice cars get crushed.

  17. Larry Geiger says:

    Do not turn in the plate until you are sure that you are not going to use it on another car. You will have to pay the impact fee all over again to get it back.

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    Since i have to be in Florida to turn it in, and have a year left to run on the registration since I did the 2 year last time, I’ve got a while… BUT, that means I need to pay insurance on it for that time. (If you don’t, your drivers license is suspended and then I’d need t go to court to get it re-instated and all THAT has to be done in Florida…) So I’m not going to save any money on it either way.

    Oh Well… the price for a bi-coastal lifestyle ;-)

  19. Larry Geiger says:

    Oh. Hmmmmm… Last time we saved a plate we canceled the insurance. Didn’t have a problem but maybe we were lucky. Don’t know.

  20. akaLogic says:

    Interested. see mail also

  21. Chris in Calgary says:

    EMP Kit. Hmmm…. It occurred to me that in the event of an EMP (solar or otherwise) a car would be a great thing to have until you stopped driving. Then every sociopath and psychopath in the vicinity would converge on the vehicle and cause mayhem, until just enough of them remained who would fit in the car.

    Unless you have a well-stocked retreat in the remote wilderness (yet reachable on a tank of gas), would a working car do you any good in the event of an EMP?

    Not to mention that most major roads would clogged with cars stopped in transit.

  22. E.M.Smith says:

    @Chris in Calgary:

    That’s what the .357 Magnum (matched set revolver and lever gun), the Sig .40, the 12 gauge Defender (large magazine), and the SKS Carbine with stripper clips are for… to “explain” the concept of ownership to anyone slow to get it…

    FWIW, the tendency to Mad Max is very locality specific. I’ve been in a complete electrical grid shutdown here that lasted a couple of days. A 7 quake. No Bad Things broke out. Folks just did what was needed to help each other. If you live in a hell hole with bars on the windows, YMMV… But when the quake put us all in disaster mode here, it was everyone helping each other. We had a “Quake Party” with cheese and wine set out for anyone in the neighborhood who had issues. Another neighbor set up his grill, preparing to cook what would otherwise spoil. Etc. etc. (Guy in spandex directing traffic, his bike leaned against the pole, next light had a lady in a business suit… near as I could tell, “just folks” enjoying doing what they always wanted to do…)

    I have, traditionally, been seeing my role as “technical recovery” and would just immediately check in with the local police station for ‘dispatch’. While they might well commandeer my car, I’d be OK if they needed it more than the telco guys needed a clueful taxi driver.

    Realistically, IMHO, EMP will mostly just blow out things hooked onto the mains. Cars have just too short an antenna length to really couple well to it. (Might toast the radio if the antenna is up, though).

    BUT, IFF it really did look like Mad Max Mobs, of course I’d not be starting up the car and driving around. I’d be hunkered down in fortress mode until they thinned each other out. We’ve typically got a few months worth of food and water so “I can wait”… And also typically “Bad Guys” don’t bother the cheapest house on the block with old dull cars out front. Our place looks like the last place anyone would expect to find value in a dozen miles.

    Per getting around on roads with cars dead on them: Depends a lot on when EMP hits. I’d expect most folks to do a surprise attack at dawn or O-Dark-Thiry and surface streets then are pretty much OK. Major ones can easily be avoided with back roads. When necessary, my car fits on the sidewalk of the major boulevards… But, realistically, I’d not be going anywhere until I knew I had a reason. Routers to fix, wires to hook up, network gear to unbox and configure. That would take a while. First I’d get my old Shortwave out of the wrapper and see if anyone was giving status reports, IFF needed, I’d get my “tube radio kit” out and start building… then that night check the shortwaves with it… Until I knew the status of things, that fuel in the tank matters more as generator fuel than as sight seeing fuel. You also must expect a “double tap” so I’d be unplugging and turning off anything that wasn’t obviously smoked.

    Only once I had a reason and a destination (like, oh, the National Guard needs some kit hauled and installed at the local City Center and they are too busy) would I roll up and offer services. For getting around until then, I’d be happy to use the bicycle. A visit to the local emergency center on a bike is very non-threatening, then I could tip them to the working car if needed. Few folks would care to bother with an “old guy on a bike” (and those that did might discover how well a Walther PPK fits a jacket pocket).

    Basically, preparedness is as much about “attitude” as it is about “stuff you buy”. With the right attitude you can be in a bad place and not have bad things happen. I once took a wrong exit from the freeway in NYC. During a time of racial tensions in the late ’70s / early ’80s. Was in Jamaica NY (think brick buildings some crumbling looking bombed out and windows broken, fire in ‘burn barrels’ out front…) One bright shining white face in a newer rental car in a sea of black ones on the street with lots of poverty. My solution? Picked a group of young men looking me over from a front step and pulled the car over, rolled down the window and said (confronting reality directly and honestly) “I took the wrong off ramp somewhere and now I’m where I really don’t belong. Anyone know how I can get on the freeway?” Stern looks of WTF and who are you and why are you here? turned into broad smiles as I smiled back. “Oh, yeah, man, no problem. Up there, left at the second light, onramp in a block on your right.” I gave them a good laugh and they accepted my honesty, and me.

    If you just treat folks honestly and fairly, most of them will do the same. Those that won’t, well, then you can always escalate. That’s where 6 years of karate training, a tire iron, and other “goods” can help. Yet somehow I’ve never needed that. I think maybe the fact I’m big and look confident helps too… With Hispanic guys I toss in some Spanish and that helps cool them out. Makes you less an outsider. Once they figure out you are not there as a cop, or a snitch, or to bother anyone, it’s usually good.

    But really, that would never arise in my neighborhood. It just isn’t that kind of place. Most likely, I’d end up just running an emergency taxi to the hospital service if needed on the first day. IF someone in the neighborhood was having dramatic issues, I’d just put them in the car and make a run (all of about 5 miles) to the nearest hospital. Depending on how much stuff got knocked out and how much was still working, I could easily see them “recruiting” me at that point. (Either as driver, or to work on fixing coms and computer stuff. )

    BTW, given the density of old sparky and Diesel cars here, I’d not be alone. There would be a few thousand of us at a minimum. One neighbor has an old tow truck, about 1960s or 70s vintage I’d say. Just likes playing with cars… so there would be a small fleet of us out there to start the bootstrap process. Also realize that California is on the far edge of the optimum EMP device point, so would have a lot less damage generally. (If it is a natural one, the size is smaller anyway, and if it is Nuclear War, the EMP is the least of my worries…)

    With all that said:

    I’m starting to retire that part of my life. Realistically, it’s time for me to become the 4th level of recovery asset (only used if there is no other choice) and plan that I’m mostly going to be sitting by the BBQ cooking whatever was in the fridge that doesn’t keep once warm. I no longer have any companies depending on me to get them back into service, nor any staff, nor any kids at home. The “Civic Duty” aspect remains, but realistically the EMP hardened Military and National Guard gear will be doing most of that, and they won’t want an “old guy and beat up wagon” getting in the way. Then figure that IMHO most of the cars are going to survive anyway (not to mention all those in urban underground garages with a ferrocement cage around them…) and really I’m just not needed that much.

    So the most likely case would just be using the car as a self mobile generator for basic lights and power and for a run to the place where the National Guard was handing out stuff. Or, worse case, if the house got damaged (say a fire started from the sparks) we can use the wagon as a steel and glass tent… and maybe drive to some other house somewhere. (or escape a fire storm… ) Built like a tank, the old ’80s Benz can push others out of the way if needed to clear some roadway… I’d not care about losing some lights and fenders, considering the alternative of “Me Flambe”…

    Essentially, we’re gearing up for “home” to be an RV in a park somewhere semi-rural. In that circumstance (metal shell vehicle most likely, propane fridge and stove) a “worst case scenario” really does not involve me going anywhere. Just getting water from the fishing lake, run it though my filter, and make some rice and beans… Nobody is going raid RV parks, and there is little threat from a bunch of retired folks. Lots of folks with generators in their coaches and lots of older gas and Diesel engines too. So I expect RV parks to be some of the islands from which things rebuild (assuming significant damage really happens and it isn’t just radio, tv, and computer networks fried). In that context I don’t really need to be ready to slog 20 miles to a work site to try and save a company.

  23. Alexander K says:

    I learnt to drive in the immediate post WWII years in my Dad’s 1928 Pontiac 6, known affectionately as ‘Ponty’. Dad later had this venerable old lady cut down and rebuilt into a little truck, but it required serious overload springs at the rear to be useful. It eventually died and was sold to a motor garage to become a recovery vehicle.
    During those years Dad’s agricultural contracting business grew exponentially and this required the purchase of cheap and (usually) reliable pre-war American cars to transport work gangs to and from job sites. In those days we needed ‘Overseas funds. i.e.Sterling, to buy a new vehicle, so we made do with a succession of ‘Yank Tanks’ as they were affectionately known. My personal favorite was a 1934 Dodge, a wonderfully strong and reliable vehicle which would tackle the worst of country road surfaces and never miss beat.
    Long after my Dad died, I bought a 1975 Chev Bel Air from a back country farmer – this had never been in garaged, had enjoyed minimal apart fro regular oil changed and lube jobs, and had covered 250000 miles when I sold it without the heads being removed.
    I now drive a 1600cc twin-cam Toyota Corrolla hatchback, which is getting a bit long in the tooth but is one of the most reliable and sturdy cars I have owned.
    I know where you are coming from with the passing of BB, EM!

  24. Pingback: 2 Trips, 2 Weeks, 2 Cars, Today | Musings from the Chiefio

Comments are closed.