Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Conroy asks: I’d like to ask you a question related to one of your past articles (www.ericpetersautos.com/2020/04/21/the-road-warrior-didnt-have-onstar). You indicated that if one wants to buy a vehicle with a purely mechanical fuel delivery system, one should buy something made before 1980. I’m looking for a vehicle that would be likely to run after an EMP event (an EMP from either a military source or from the sun). Would that same pre-1980 rule also apply? A prepping newsletter even recommended getting a diesel vehicle for this scenario (something about it not having a wire harness). Do you suggest looking for a diesel vehicle over a gasoline vehicle? Do you have any suggestions as to where I might be able to find a vehicle (preferably a pickup truck) like this? I live in San Diego, California.
My reply: Cars made until roughly the early-mid-1980s mostly still had mechanical fuel delivery systems (i.e., carburetors) but they also had electronic ignition systems. That means they are vulnerable to EMPs. To find a vehicle that is invulnerable, you’d need to find one equipped with a mechanically-controlled (i.e., points-type) ignition. That takes you back to – roughly – 1974 and prior.
However, the good news is that later-model cars (through the ’80s) that came with electronic ignitions are still serviceable, if you keep a spare ignition module and keep it in a place that protects it from EMP surges. Or, you could install an older, points-type distributor; these readily retrofit.
A mechanically injected diesel is however you best bet – and not only because it will start so long as you have a battery (or a hill). These older diesels will run on practically any fuel, including vegetable/waste cooking oil and so on.
As far as where to find: I’d regularly cruise your local Craigs List/Auto Trader for the best deals and also just keep your eyes and ears open; let your friends and associates know you’re looking for a vehicle. This is usually a very effective way to find what you are after!
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