Here is the latest reader Q – along with my reply:
In a , let’s say 1970s gas auto, with points distributor, What would actually “fry” if there was an EM pulse. My friend and I have debated this for several years over beers. Is there any hard actual proof?
My understanding is that an electromagnetic pulse would affect transistors and other such solid state electronics, especially those plugged into the grid and which have antennas (good article here).
A mechanical/points distributor shouldn’t be affected because it does not have solid state electronics. The rest of the engine in the car you posit is also “solid state” – carbureted vs. fuel-injected, etc. It should not be affected by an EMP.
Your main problem, post EMP, will be finding gas. Most of the pumps will be out and of course, the public will be going ape to get whatever fuel remains available. The other problem with this scenario is storage. Whatever gas you manage to secure or have on hand will only remain viable for a matter of several months, even if treated. After a year or so, we’re all out of luck – no matter how much we managed to store.
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