Thursday, October 21, 2010

SHTF Car Paradox

Based on this article we get a general idea of what could be considered an appropriate SHTF vehicle:
*Tough and easy to repair.
*Solid reputation. A car that rightfully earned the item mentioned above by being on the street for decades.
*Cheap and commonly available spare parts.
Now, these three narrow down the options a bit but not completely. In this day and age there are other factors and since two is one and one is none its not a bad idea to have one vehicle that is cheap to repair but also cheap to drive (good gas mileage) and a second one that is bigger and 4x4 capable, I’m thinking a 4 door double cab type or sport utility truck like the 4-door Hilux.

To this we have to add another factor that presents a bit of a paradox when we go a bit further into ideal cars and bad times, and this is the issue of robbery and carjacking.

The 3.0 L Turbodiesel  Hilux is made here in Argentina. We freaking love this car, of course. The Hilux is used by the police and liked by the rest of us for the reasons we all know. Yet yesterday while having a conversation with like-minded people at the shooting range, the consensus was that driving one around pretty much painted a bullseye on your back because its very sought after by carjackers.
The car is well made, popular, lasts a long time, all the things that make it a good car to own in tough times, yet at the same time that popularity creates a parallel black market of used parts. This means that chop shops have a list of prices for certain vehicles. Lets say a Peugeot 206 gets you 300 or 400 pesos, a Fiat Duna/Uno/147 gets you 200 bucks, but a nice Hilux delivered to be disassembled, be shipped to neighboring countries or have its numbers altered to be sold within Argentina, that car will get the carjacker maybe 500 or 600 bucks. This means that when criminals go out looking for vehicles, there’s a list with prices in their mind, and cars like the Hilux or Peugeot 206 are at the top of their list. You get all the good traits common and reliable cars have but you also suffer the black market that eventually grows whenever a country collapses.

This is a serious problem in other poor or corrupt countries around the world as well. It is in fact so serious, some security-aware people just don’t buy them to avoid these problems.
Now for example my crappy Daewoo, is a subcompact esthetically and in terms of capability not that different from a 206, but a 206 it is not. This means that a carjacker would look at my Daewoo twice, specially since it has its fare share of bumps and dents. Yet at the same time most of the parts used by the Lanos are common to the widely popular Chevrolet Corsa. I buy Corsa parts for my Lanos, but the Corsa is the one that is in high demand  for carjacking.

If you happen to know of a model that isn’t as well known but uses many parts of the more popular cars, that may be a way to go to avoid getting your car stolen. Adding a few esthetic mods and sticking a different name in the back  may dissuade some of the not so well informed criminals that are looking for a particular brand and model.

Just as a curiosity factor, are you wondering how many cars get robbed in Argentina? This insurance company website says 10%, 1 out of 10 cars get robbed each year, so you see, it is a serious problem  since every year you roll a 10 side dice to see if its your turn or not.
The website also mentions that common yet older vehicles like the Duna, 147 or Peugeot 504 are favorite choices in the provinces and small towns. “Its just an old beatup truck/car” just doesn’t make it safe. If its common then that’s the factor that matters the most.



Anonymous said...

Here in the US, the Toyota Corolla and Honda Accord are usually at the top of the crooks' hit lists, and the most popular models stolen are cars made in the 1980s and 1990s, since the parts are interchangeable with the Corolla and Accord from around the WORLD, meaning that the crook can ship that car or its parts practically anywhere he wants, and get a good price. Nissans seem to be a little less popular with thieves, but I know that for example the 2000-06 Sentra is everywhere, so it may be an easy target should things go bad in the US.

We have a car here called Chevrolet Aveo, and I know it is made by Daewoo, in fact I believe it's a rebadged Lanos. Chevy has a really BAD reputation here in the US, EVERYBODY hates GM because of the corrupt bailout of the automaker using tax dollars, so Chevy dealers are really struggling. That means that big companies are getting really good fleet deals on the Aveo right now, but the car still has a bad rep. That means it might be a good alternative to say a Honda Civic or Toyota Yaris which is a gold mine for thieves. I'm gonna do some googling and report back on which cars in the US get stolen.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'm back. Most popular stolen cars in the US are Toyota and Honda passenger cars, and American made trucks and SUVs. GM trucks seem to get stolen a LOT, along with 1990s Toyotas and Hondas. The 2009 Corolla seems destined to be yet another perennial favorite of US thieves. Nissan cars seem to be less popular, so anybody looking for a passenger car that's not stolen as much may want to go down the their local Nissan dealer and check out the Versa or Sentra. The Chevy Aveo will likely remain unwanted, and American passenger cars seem in general to be less desirable.

denier said...

4 wheel is cool, but the added complexity makes parts and repairs more costlym

Anonymous said...

What's a hilux cost in Argentina?

Anonymous said...

I live in an easily overlooked country in southern Europe. If you want to buy a reliable truck here there are only two very narrow options.

The mid-late 90's Toyota Hilux and Mitsubishi L200. Both are Japanese imports, with a dual cab and diesel engine.

The Hilux is more popular by far, but I own the L200.
The main advantage over the Hilux is parts commonality with the Pajero/Montero - which happens to be the most popular SUV.

Carjacking isn't a major problem here, but that might change depending on the situation.

Anonymous said...

I live in the US. Your blog does not come up properly on Internet Explorer. Every other webpage I visit is okay. Is there some special setting that changed in the last few days?

Anonymous said...

We got a 1991 Chevy S10 pickup (extended cab, 4x4, 4.3. auto) and a 1993 Chevy S10 Blazer 4 door (also 4x4, 4.3. auto) to handle our needs. Good mileage, parts are common and cheap, reliable if you take care of them and they are nearly identical mechanically. Works for us.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious Ferfal should mention adding something different to the car/truck to distract thieves and carjackers. I was thinking the same thing. Not too hard to pull off the metal logos, fill the holes & painting over - even adding non-interesting model/make names - one could visit a junk yard to see what else there is to "disguise" a hot model.

There are sites that sell older trucks that still run - reminds me of "Mad Max" (like tanks) they are available, i.e., see "old trucks for fun". A paint job that is more in line with "rough and ready", leaving it dirty and roughed up, as long as it runs durably, dependably - for SHTF readiness. I agree with Ferfal here, doesn't matter what it looks long as you can fix it, is cheap to run and is dependable. Like a lot of the old Chevys, Chryslers, Corollas, name a few.

gaga said...

Maybe having a very beat up model would discourage theft.

My father in Law has a very beat up HiLux , maybe 150k km on the clock here in Poland. Crashed many times into tree, ditches with the help of Vodka. Cosmetically its a disaster, windows don't work, cracked, pick bed soaked in blood and gore from hunting, bodywork 100% damaged. It goes perfectly fine, but I suspect a thief would be more interested in an example that had more working parts.

You just have to get over your though of a car as a ego projection device.

russell1200 said...

I have no why anon 10:03 thinks everyone hates GM/Chevy.

The Chevy Colorado replaced the S-10 at the low end of the range. It is a very different design and still relatively rare (everyone goes up to the bigger Silverado).

It is far more reliable than the earlier S-10.

DaShui said...

Car jackings in my area went down considerably when the law was amended so that ones car is an extension of one's house, therefore one does not need a CCP to possess a gun in the car. I think also LoJack/onstar helped some.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what people in the US thought of the RAV-4, or Mazda CX-9. Yes, they aren't bulletproof SHTF Mad Max trucks, but as Ferfal has said- it isn't going to be Mad Max.

I'm thinking of selling a small hatchback (Mazda 3) and getting something else with 4x4 capability, but again, keeping it a bit smaller, as Ferfal has suggested. I'm thinking the need to go over curbs and handle potholes (as road maintenance is deferred) is one compelling reason to change vehicles.

Jeeps have been suggested, but some have issues with reliability. Subarus are another option, but I've heard mixed reviews (which may not be statistically significant; oh the perils of anecdotal data!)

All comments welcome. BTW, just a general shout out here- a very good and thoughtful bunch of preppers here. Thanks for your insights.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:11, the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger both come in 4x4 versions, and are less likely to get stolen, in my view, than any Japanese car, or a full size American pickup. You may have to do some searching to find one, since the 4x4 versions are not widely available, but it might be worth it. The 4x4 versions are about $10k more than the 2 wheel drive versions.

Anonymous said...

Decent "Under the Radar" vehicles here in the states:

- Crown Victoria/Grand Marquis (of any vintage)
- S10/Ranger/Dodge Dakota

- 1991 - 1994 Ford Explorer
- 1992 and up Ford Ranger
- 1994 and up S10/Blazer

These may not get 30+ mpg (realistically: between 15 - 23), but they're a dime a dozen, body on frame, tough enough to survive a run in, and, in the case of the S10 and Explorer/Ranger, narrow enough to sneak by anything.

My Explorer's combined city/highway mileage was 18 mpg (I need to see wtf went wrong). It's 4WD, reliable (have taken MANY day/road trips), inconspicuous, tough, and it only cost me $1500.

Something else to keep in mind: the rules change if you live in a border state. Some vehicles will be much more sought after, so the list will vary depending on your AO.