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Best built 4X4?

topic posted Sun, February 1, 2009 - 10:46 AM by  Unsubscribed
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We are in the market for a good, reliable, tuff ass 4X4. Older is fine, in fact we prefer not to get a newer vehicle. Must be great on and off road. We definately need a pickup or an SUV. Will haul me, the wife, 2 big dogs, and our gear. For fun and just in case we have to haul ass outta here fast. Because of where we now live we have a lot of natural disasters to deal with that often require evacuations besides the shit hitting the fan. Oh, and just so you know, my wife is a hard core Dodge girl, so if you all decide a Dodge is the best she will be thrilled.

So in your opinion which 4X4 do you think is the best made and why? We are very interested in your experienced and knowledgeable thoughts on this subject. Thanks!
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    Re: Best built 4X4?

    Sun, February 1, 2009 - 11:34 AM
    AMC Eagle station wagon, with 2 inch lift and off-road tyres. i've seen a handfull of these things on the road and they are tough as hell.

    You don't want an open truck bed for your gear, trust me. you also don't want your gear in a separate compartment, like the bed of a truck when you are up in the cab, even if you do have a camper shell. Both situations are more vulnerable to looting if you get stuck in gridlock traffic anywhwere. Which, in a SHTF scenario, this can just as easily be a car wreck on the back country road that you were so sure would have zero traffic.

    In a wagon, your dogs have access to all parts of the car, which is a great deterrent. Also, you have access from the inside, without having to get out. This is useful if you are attacked by zombies at the critical moment when you're so thirsty that you just HAVE to reach back and find where the hawaiian punch is in the bottom of the cooler. it's also helpful if you need to sleep in the vehicle at night, and don't want someone else to be able to break the driver window and steal it with you trapped in the back.

    Another advantage of the wagon body design is that at a glance, it blends in well with other cars and is very unassuming. this reduces your target profile for looters, or FEMA checkpoints, or police dragnets looking for 'militant' trouble makers. You don't want a camouflaged pickup truck at a time like that. You want to look like anybody else, just simple average joes, driving out of town with a couple boxes of food in the back. Remember to cover any giveaway packaging, like ammo cans in the back, with a simple blanket so as to attract even less attention.

    Never underestimate the protective quality of a crappy paint job. Old cars with a restored paint job can sometimes attract more attention than a new car, for burglars. Because they know someone who took the time to restore a car, probably packed it full of goodies too. A valuable sound system, expensive engine add-ons, or just nice wheels. I used to have a VW golf that looked like shit. At any given time, there was probably a thousand dollars average in the glove box, cash, because of the nature of my job and the golf being my work vehicle. I never locked the doors. Meanwhile, my roommate at the time, had his nicely restore jeep wrangler broken into twice, had all his cd's stolen and a few other things, as well as ripping out his sound system. We parked right next to each other. My car was totally ignored.
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      Re: Best built 4X4?

      Sun, February 1, 2009 - 12:04 PM
      We were just talking about this and the wife decided she likes the old Jeep Grand Wagoneers too. What do you think about them? I've never had any dealings with a jeep but I know they are supposed to be tuff and reliable. The Eagle might be a bit small for us, but it's a great option we hadn't thought of. We'll look into them.

      The wife wants to know your opinions on a Dodge Ramcharger. I told you, she LOVES her Dodges. LOL

      You're right about being seperated from the back of a pickup too. We don't want the gear or dogs out of fast reach. And not wanting to be a traget is one reason why we're not looking for a newer vehicle.

      Thanks! You've given us more to think about.
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      Re: Best built 4X4?

      Sun, February 1, 2009 - 12:13 PM
      Good points, Thousand. These arent things I ever really think about.

      But wouldnt just a standard SUV blend in better than a stationwagon?
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      Re: Best built 4X4?

      Sun, February 1, 2009 - 3:12 PM
      Okay Thousands, I generally agree with you but in this I think you need to check you facts.

      The old Eagles came off the line unreliable and only got worse. We had one as a kid for a very short time, I think my parents lost a bet or something. In fact, they are so legendarily prone to being more-dead-than-alive I would have to guess you posted that in jest or are just trying to get a rise outa people.

      I do agree with the rest of what you have said here.

      In regards to the older Jeeps, they have some merits but....

      My first 4x4 was a 79 Jeep Cherokee Chief (These were the Cherokees that looked like the Wagoneer but were 2 doors). While it was a lot of fun, it had a lots of issues. I basically rebuilt the damned thing one part at a time. Those old Jeeps were kind of Frankencar's with (if I remember right) Ford blocks, Chevy ignitions, I know the bolt pattern between the engine and Chevy style tranny was stock Buick. They have a vacuum control for the transfer case that has a 'unique' Quarda-track system that is VERY temperamental.

      In response to the question, I would suggest a Chevy Blazer of Suburban. Looks for something on a 3/4 ton chassis with a 350 under the hood. These engines are not only very reliable, they are extremely common so aftermarket, new, used, and cannibalizable parts are easily found. Go with an older set up with a carburetor and a points/condenser type ignition. In the event of an EMP hit, the extra ignitions components are much easier to replace than a computer.

      My personal 'idea BOV' is a Suburban with the above, a nice tail mount rack for a couple jerry cans and a higlift jack with a stout rack on the top. Add hitch receivers to both ends, a winch (lol, not wench as I typed the first time), maybe even a a nice trailer that has the same wheelbase and clearance as the rig, and you're golden.

      Of course, if I knew how to work on a diesel that would be even better.
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    Re: Best built 4X4?

    Sun, February 1, 2009 - 12:42 PM
    Ford
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      Re: Best built 4X4?

      Sun, February 1, 2009 - 1:34 PM
      Which one and why?
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        Re: Best built 4X4?

        Sun, February 1, 2009 - 3:54 PM
        As far as jeeps are concerned, I consider them to be flimsy and cheap. You look at the outside of the door and it says 'JEEP'...you get in and close the door, and on the inside you can read 'PEEJ'.

        Jeeps are simple. Simple to break into, simple to hotwire, simple to jimmy the door locks. The wrangler is something like the third most commonly broken into vehicle in america. Honda civic is the first, I'm not sure what the second is.

        The only place where a jeep is not simple, is in the drivetrain accessibility.

        The only application for which I would enjoy a jeep is to get an older army jeep, no doors, simple simple minimal, and use it as an offroad, trail vehicle. For hunting, for cruising around on the mountain, for fun. I would not have one as a primary vehicle.

        As Reagan pointed out, an SUV might blend in better nowadays on the road. I avoid SUV's because they are not made for much of a utilitarian purpose. They have a notoriously high center-of-gravity, as well as extra width and unnecessary height which may very well give you clearance problems when navigating the obstacles of a chaotic evacuation situation. Any advantage they have in ground-clearance is negated by the high center of gravity, which will flip over sideways before you crawl over a rock big enough to justify your 10 inches of ground clearance.

        When considering a BOV, a very important parameter is CLEARANCE!!!! you want the smallest, narrowest vehicle you can get to fit your needs. You can't just bash your way through every road-block. And when you have to drive around a wreck or a downed utility pole, that extra six inches of width may make the difference between fitting or getting stuck. Bigger is not better unless you are driving a tank. There are also situations where height clearance could become an issue. Bugout winnebagos make me laugh. imagine one of those trying to navigate a parking lot, much less drive up onto someone's hill-and-rock landscaped yard to get around a tree that fell across the entrance to the neighborhood, much less the gridlock in the city beyond...
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          Re: Best built 4X4?

          Sun, February 1, 2009 - 3:56 PM
          So like Subaru forrester or something like that, with a little lift and maybe some bigger tires?
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            Re: Best built 4X4?

            Sun, February 1, 2009 - 4:27 PM
            subaru's are GREAT vehicles for this type of purpose. the newer generation has improved ground-clearance as well. And these cars are common, and blend-in easily.

            The engines are very reliable and can be made to run quietly. From a mechanic standpoint, the boxer-four design of the engine is a piece of cake to work on, simple and reliable. All VW aircooled engines use the same configuration, and we know how rugged and reliable they are. Subaru's have all that, with the advantage (or added complexity) of being watercooled.

            And in my opinion, ground-clearance is a little overrated. There will aways be a bigger rock to get over. Your money would be better spent on skid-plates and undercarriage protection. 6-8 inches of ground clearance is really good enough to pick your way through almost any obstacle or road condition. I've done things with my honda accord (5 inches clearance) that pickup trucks behind me didn't dare. It's mostly a matter of knowing the shape of your undercarriage, where the vulnerable parts are, and where the strong parts are that can 'take a beating' so that when you do have to take that rock on the chin, you know where to put it where it won't rip a hose or crack your oil pan.
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              offline 8

              Re: Best built 4X4?

              Sun, February 1, 2009 - 9:59 PM
              I drive an old italian roadster without about an inch of clearance.

              potholes have broken my car
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                Re: Best built 4X4?

                Sun, February 1, 2009 - 10:01 PM
                who are you? James Bond?
                • Re: Best built 4X4?

                  Mon, February 2, 2009 - 6:22 AM
                  Obviously you have not seen James Bond's cars.... now that would be the ideal bug out vehicle... something with missles.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
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                    offline 8

                    Re: Best built 4X4?

                    Mon, February 2, 2009 - 1:55 PM
                    Bond usually drives British roadsters, with the occasional BMW thrown in.

                    And they're usually really cutting edge - I dont even have power steering (thank god)
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        Re: Best built 4X4?

        Sun, February 1, 2009 - 4:51 PM
        explorer, mountaineer, expedition, f-150. Theyre all about the same thing. I've never had any luck with a chevy, maybe it's just me. Jeep is the most expensive to fix of most american vehichles. I try to buy as american as I can. So I like a ford.

        Suv's are top heavy but they seem well balanced weight wise on the slickery stuff. there's room for the family and pulling a trailer in a suv. You could get a 4 door truck.

        If it comes down to people fighting and stealing on the highway, I wont be there. If I have to leave my home it will be on horseback. Theyre 4x4's too. Powered by oat's, dont step in the exhaust!
  • Re: Best built 4X4?

    Sun, February 1, 2009 - 3:42 PM
    I would look for an International Scout. Their hay day was a little before my time and I have never driven one. But, from what I hear they where tough S.O.B's that really got the job done. The only thing I have heard about being a problem is the floor panels are rusted out on most of them and you will need to replace them if the owner has not done so already. I am no expert on vehicles, that’s why I have brothers.
    • Re: Best built 4X4?

      Sun, February 1, 2009 - 3:48 PM
      By the way, my Brother who is a master ASC mechanic like's Dodge and Jeep for off road. He is an off road vehicle mechanic and has designed a lift system for his own vehicle. To see some of his work look at www.adrenalineoffroad.com/index.htm my brother is Mitch.
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        Re: Best built 4X4?

        Sun, February 1, 2009 - 4:16 PM
        Night- your brother knows what he's talking about for off-roading vehicles...but I doubt he would give jeep any kind of endorsement for reliability. As a secondary, rock-crawling 'recreational offroading vehicle' they are great... when a breakdown is just an inconvenience...but when one's life depends on it, there are better choices.

        Dodge makes really solid drivetrains and their transmissions, especially on their bigger trucks, are super over-engineered. Very heavy-duty parts. I do believe some of their transmission parts are alice brand? (alice makes our military tank transmissions and turbine engines)

        The scouts are pretty tough. You'd need to get a hard-top for them though. most of the ones i've ever seen had no tops at all.

        Remember that scene on Titanic, when the poor people were getting pissed off at the rich who were hogging all the lifeboats? they would yell at them from the lower windows, a few even tried to cut the lifeboat-lowering ropes, to make the occupants fall into the sea, such was their jealousy and indignation.

        imagine a large group of people, stranded, starving, panicking, rioting, their vehicles are stuck or out of gas or cannot navigate the road.... and here you come with your nice, doesn't-get-stuck, well stocked 4x4 vehicle on your way to safety, somewhere they wish they could be going, wherever it is. Chances are you'll get thronged and even pick up as many hitchhikers as can fit on your hood and roof. If you take any measures to avoid this, driving faster or evading, you can surely expect anger, hostility, thrown rocks, or possibly a molotov cocktail on your hood.

        You need a hard-top.

        There are also clear plastic laminates that you can put on the inside of your glass, it has a high-tensile-strength and though the glass may still be shattered and broken, it will not cave through and people will not be able to reach in. Most windshields already have this laminate on them. just remember it will be harder to get out if you fall in a lake... everything is a compromise, you measure your most likely risks and prepare. Laminate is invisible, so is much more discrete than the expanded steel window covers used on prison vehicles and SWAT response units.

        Expanded steel DOES have an important place on your bugout vehicle- your grill. Get a push-bar to protect your front-end, and give it a welded-on backing of expanded steel, to keep pokey things out of your radiator. 'Pokey things' include rebar from chunks of collapsed structure, or even tree branches you may or may not see in front of you. I even know a guy who hit a deer and the antlers punctured his radiator. Paint it flat-black, or a color that matches your normal grill up front, and it won't attract attention.

        A skid-plate undercarriage is also vital, especially near your CV joints (front wheel or 4 wheel drive), and your lower radiator hose. It is also possible, when dealing with really rough terrain, to rip a brakeline off, and lose your brakes, at least on that side. (field expedient repair is to plug or kink that line, a pair of vice-grips will do the job on steel lines or rubber lines, and continue with 3 good brakes and one dead brake)

        Protect your engine.
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          Re: Best built 4X4?

          Sun, February 1, 2009 - 4:54 PM
          You'll go more places in a small 4x4 than you will a big one. When it comes to fitting between tree's a ranger will go farther than the monster truck. Subaru forrester will also work.
        • Re: Best built 4X4?

          Mon, February 2, 2009 - 7:36 AM
          "but I doubt he would give jeep any kind of endorsement for reliability"
          I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokie because my brother edorsed it. It was used when we bought it and I have had almost no trouble with it. Its 9 modal years old and we have had it 3 years now.I do not take care of vehicals like I should even with my brother(s) being mechanics and damn good ones. I stand by my Jeep and my Dodge Ram 1500. Just my experience.
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        Re: Best built 4X4?

        Sun, February 1, 2009 - 7:58 PM
        I have had them all ha ha ha . I had a jeep cj7 ,Eagle wagon, ford Bronco, Chevy pickup and Chevy suv. Never had a Blazer. I have a 1/2 ton Dodge now. Tell your wife she needs to read popular motor sports. Dodges suck. Firt off you want to get away from the newr drive trains but use a newer body ( smart) Say a wrangler body on a solid CJ7 frame and drive line. The Dana Pigs and transfer cases that came on the older jeeps were the best ever made. The problem with them up here was rust. Bodies and frames rusted to pieces. But the drive lines were the best. Manual locking hubs all the way. There is no reason to push the entire drive line with full time 4x4. I would look for a Cherokee from the early 80's and put a chevy 350 in it . They make a bell housing and motor mount set that bolt them right up.

        I was into to dune running from 1990 to 2001. I have had many dune buggies and tricked out 4x4's . The most fun was an 1835 cc Volkswagon rail job that had twin weber carbs and headers. It did wheelies and would freakin fly. I had a 1980 Eagle wagon that gave me 80 thousand great miles. I bought it with 176,000 miles on it and had to have the transfer case rebuilt. When I sold it it had over 250,000 thousand on it. I sold it for 200 bucks more then I paid for it. They were a great car but way too heavy for sand and if you install a lift kit you will break the ball joints in the front. They had a fixed pig and independant suspension so raising the front end caused the ball joints to not ride in the middle but on the top if you understand what I am saying. Its like going over a jump and the suspension drops. You wouold have to drop it all including the pig and have special swing arms built that were longer to lift it properly. Jeeps were easy. Chevy was easy and ford was easy as they all had straight axle pigs in the front ends. Leafs or coils. All the new ones are independent suspension and smoother but much weaker for pounding . If I was going to plan on bugging out I would put a transfer case and front drive assembly in my 1 Ton Ford Van and convert it to 4x4. A 4x4 van is the way to go . Best of every world as far as comfort, room and safety. Ford and Dodge both made them in the 70's . I have seen some real cool ones restored. There are hundreds of options in 4by 4 off road vehicles. I have a dodge right its a 2000 ram 318 automatic and its a dog. I have to baby it or break it. Chevrolet or Jeep bewst in my book. Michael
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          Re: Best built 4X4?

          Sun, February 1, 2009 - 8:13 PM
          Yeah, but if you get a 4x4 van, you'll have to make it look like the 'A-Team' mobile.

          I pitty the fool!
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            Re: Best built 4X4?

            Sun, February 1, 2009 - 8:26 PM
            Mine would look plain mean. All black , windows darkened. 31 inch Monster mudders ,headers and side pipes. I would get a hyper chip for the electronic fuel injection and add about 75 horse power. With low range I could pull a wall down on most homes ha ha ha . They have a massive frame under them. Lots of weight would give it the best rating in traction but it would be a dog on sand unless you had 1000 hp and 36 inch paddle tires. I miss the sand , it was fun but dangerous as hell. W ehave this place nort west of us called Silver Lake sand dunes. It is one of the Dune buggy capitals of the world. If any of you every need after market volkswagon parts I have friends up there who own a plce called appletree automotive. They built a 2000 hp vw motor . 500 ponies per cylinder. It ran a 2 second 1/8th mile sand drag. It wasnt reaaly a volkswagon motor but an aftermarket monster all custom built in thier machine shop. Ill bet I could find it on line. Michael
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              Re: Best built 4X4?

              Sun, February 1, 2009 - 8:30 PM
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                Re: Best built 4X4?

                Sun, February 1, 2009 - 8:43 PM
                Check out the 4 seat rail job for sale. They sell them new for over 7 grand but you can pick up used rail jobs with big engines for half of that. Mike
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                  Re: Best built 4X4?

                  Sun, February 1, 2009 - 9:00 PM
                  I am a big fan of the VW aircooled engine. not only are they aircooled, they are pushrod, and boxer-configured, with individual cylinders (not cast as a double block)...everything about them is for easy rebuilding, and simplicity and reliability. they're also very lightweight...at about 185lbs engine weight, they have a higher horsepower/pound ratio than almost any other engine...which is why they're so popular for aircraft conversions. I have done a complete overhaul on them, twice before. Without a jack. i just lay down under the jacked-up car, my friend undid the engine brackets, and i basically bench-pressed the engine while my friend dragged me out on a dolly, and we carried it over to the workbench where we could take it apart. Damn near killed me...but I bet you can't do that with any other car engine. Well, maybe you can, but I sure as hell can't!
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          Re: Best built 4X4?

          Sun, February 1, 2009 - 9:29 PM
          Oh bullshit michael. They didnt make volkswagon's in 1835. ha ha
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            Re: Best built 4X4?

            Mon, February 2, 2009 - 8:10 AM
            1600 block with 1835 jugs and dual p0rt heads. We also had to use an 8 dowel crank and flywheel. Lots of 1835's running at silver Lake. The most popular was the 1776 because they required no machining to install the bigger jugs.
            They are not real popular now with everyone going up to the bigger 2300

            Sizes were as follows for all aftermarket engine sizes. 1600,1641,1776, 1835 and then like 5 different that were over 2000 cc's.
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    Re: Best built 4X4?

    Sun, February 1, 2009 - 5:05 PM
    After rereading mojo's post I'd say a mid size suv is what he's looking for. Warning- enviromentalist will want to kill you for driving one. Those suburbans are ruining the land! ha ha
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      Re: Best built 4X4?

      Sun, February 1, 2009 - 5:11 PM
      you call a suburban a mid-size?

      what the hell is a full-size?!!! lol

      There are more parameters for mojo to post.... what kind of terrain is he headed for? how many miles will he need to cover? how much gear does he need to bring for the trip?
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    Re: Best built 4X4?

    Sun, February 1, 2009 - 11:35 PM
    I read this with've got a lot of interest.Over the course of time I've driven dodge, chevys, fords and toyotas. All have their good ponts. For the last 10 years I've had a Ford F-150 n4x4 Ext. cab as does my wife. We tow horse trailers and we have found them most dependable, however you must take care of them;maintenance is the key, no matter what you've got. Also, I've owned Ford trucks for the last 30 years, the reason being that my brother retired from Ford and I have 2 nephews that still work on the line there. It's the only truck I'll buy; I support my family.

    Other than that the producers all make a good vehicle.Chevy's are sprung soft. dodges wallow through a turn, toyota's aren't comfortable for me, Ford's ride like a truck and Subaru's are too small. Buy a vehicle for your primary needs and look at its off-road capabilities as a second feature. I see this all the time when people buy a truck to fit the horse trailer rather than the other way around. Uniformly, they are unsatisfied with their purchase as it is not what they want it to be.

    Buy for your primary purpose and look at the other uses as a secondary purpose. This will allow you to make an informed decision. Remember, when SHTF your vehicle will only be useful for a limited time. My other 4x4s are horses.
  • Re: Best built 4X4?

    Mon, February 2, 2009 - 6:50 AM
    Well I'm surprised no one has mentioned Toyota as a good BOV. I posted a pic of mine in my photos section. I LOVE IT. It's got great ground and height clearance. I have skid plates underneath and a nice front bumper. There is a window from the cab to the camper so I can access things in the back or even crawl though it if I need to. It's roomy enough for 2 people comfortably and has an extended cab so It can hold 4 people (legally with seat belts). Or you can put the dogs back there. I have screens on the camper shell and it locks from inside and out so I can sleep in the back. I rigged up some plywood pieces to make a sort of loft in the back where I can sleep on the loft and store my gear underneath me. It's a 1998 model Tacoma 4x4. It's got a much more narrow frame than the new ones, which look like full size pickups. This allows me to navigate through some small spaces.

    Agreed it won't do me much good once the EMP goes off...but I hope to be on horseback by then.

    Mojo, you'll want to learn to drive your new rig, whatever you get. My vehicle and I just click...we understand each other at this point...I know exactly what my turn radius is. I now how long my ride is.... I know how fast it takes to get up to 80 mph fully loaded... these things should be second nature to you in a bug out situation. In fact, if you and your wife are together you will want her to be able to drive. That way you can ride shotgun and handle any threats that arise.
    • Jon
      Jon
      offline 2

      Re: Best built 4X4?

      Mon, February 2, 2009 - 7:37 AM
      I can see this topic is gonna be fun ,so I just have to throw my 2 cents in. Like some of the other posts I have had a lot of 4by 4s .I can't comment much on Fords other that the 70s Broncos ,great trucks .pain to find parts & they are big $$.Never been into foreign (whats foreign theses days ??).So heres goes on what I know.I too am a dodge manhave had dodge vans & trucks for 30yrs.Never had a whole lot of problems with them and if you do they tend to be electrical.Had a 4by4 3/4 ton van would go anywhere but finally rusted out so bad there was nothing left to fix.I also love my Chevy blazers built like tanks and there are probably more 350 chevy motor parts than anyother motor out there.Have had a couple of internationals ,again built like tanks and yet again kinda a pain to find parts,only advantage to them most of the older school bues have inter motors but those are rapidly becoming extinct.If you live anywhere close to one of the military bases check there,they are dumping all their pre 90 vehicles and they are going cheap,need a good used deuce and 1/2 ?? t kinda comes down to your preferance most every one has its good and bad points,I would look at whats in my area and check to see what is the most common as far as spare parts.Pretty much everything else has been covered.My personnel choice is gonna be a long wheel base chevy towing a vw rail buggy,camo of course ,but I don't plan on bugging anywhere but at my homestead !
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        Re: Best built 4X4?

        Mon, February 2, 2009 - 8:14 AM
        I like a good ford & chevrolet debate. We might have to take this to survival politics. lol
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          Re: Best built 4X4?

          Mon, February 2, 2009 - 9:09 AM
          Well, Brent, while I do appreciate an old ford, that WAS a good point made about the chevy 350 blocks being everywhere. I've been to more hot-rod-shows than most people and I gotta say, the chevy 350 small block is the most common engine in use for home-job vehicles, by far. You take any ten hot-rods... one of them will be running an old ford flathead, two will be running whatever the stock vehicle came with (souped up of course) and the other SEVEN will be running drop-in chevy 350's.

          The engine is bullet-proof by design, it's just tough as hell. As far as tuning and maintenance goes, they are one of the few engines where 'sorta in the ballpark of where it oughta be' is plenty close enough. They're really easy to get into and work on.... and the parts support is unbeatable.

          With straight pipe headers and side exhaust, they also sound mean as hell.
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            Re: Best built 4X4?

            Mon, February 2, 2009 - 9:23 AM
            My uncle has alot of classic car's and I've helped rebuild alot of chevy motor's to put in those car's. I've thought about getting an old chevy cause I can rebuild the engine with my eye's closed. But then I decided to stay with a ford so I wouldnt have to rebuild the engine at all. lol
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              Re: Best built 4X4?

              Mon, February 2, 2009 - 9:27 AM
              hahaha
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                Re: Best built 4X4?

                Mon, February 2, 2009 - 1:10 PM
                Wow, there's been alot of discussion on this question. Good! Exactly what I wanted. Lots of info and opinions.

                To answer some questions....
                We currently have a 1999 Dodge SLT Laramie V-10 2 wheel drive pickup with a standard cab and a long bed. Just over 108,000 miles. Never had a problem with it. We have this because we live in a 30ft 5th Wheel and it pulls the home just great. That's the primary purpose of our truck besides getting to and from work, store, etc. We only have this one vehicle. We have always had 4X4's but when we replaced the last one we got such a good deal on this truck we couldn't pass it up, and we were headed to Arizona, so we figured a 2 wheel drive was ok for the time being. AZ didn't work out so we headed here. Being back in the upper half of the US we need a 4X4 again. We decided we will never buy a 2 wheel drive again. It's going to be 4X4's again for us from here on out.

                As for the wife, she can and does drive everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. In fact I wouldn't be exagerating saying she is the best driver I have ever known. Casual and defensive situations. Automatic, standard, gas, diesel, VW bug to Kenworth, she drives it all. So that isn't an issue. And she can handle a gun too. She isn't afraid of anything or anyone. Not that she's some GI Jane or anything, just not a helpless woose. The wife can definately take care of herself.

                The gear we'd be hauling is 2 backpacks, one duffel bag of gear, gas can, water can, our food and water and the 2 dogs. If we have to leave the 5th wheel and get moving fast, that is what we'll be taking. Minimum necessities. YES the dogs are necessities to us.

                Miles to travel is unknown. It realy depends on what the reason is for hauling ass, and which direction it comes from. We have a lot of natural disaster issues here besides the probablility of complete global chaos. We don't have a permanent place to set up for long term. Living in the 5th wheel means we're lving in RV parks and camp grounds right now. We plan to buy land if we can in the future. We're looking and trying to save. Right now we're just trying to get ready for what ever we can the best we can.

                Terrain? Well, we're in the Puget Sound area of Washington. So we have everything fom sandy and rocky beaches to densely treed mountains. Water everywhere. A lot of everything.

                We're thinking we need a 4 door truck or an SUV, and a small one won't work. I am all for conserving and saving the enviroment and do everything we can to do just that. The ONE exception is our vehicle. We will not give up our bigger vehicle because someone else thinks it's politically incorrect. A big 4X4 is a necessity for us. I think trading our 2500 sq ft house and the other two vehicles and all the stuff that goes with it for one vehicle and an RV is a huge step in conservation on our part. We use a lot less of everything compared to everyone else we know. So we don't think our one gas guzzler is that bad. Sorry for the soap box speech, We just got reamed about our truck yesterday by some bitch in a Lexus and a fur coat. I think the wife scared the shit out of her by the time she ws finished ripping her a new one. Anyway, sorry agian for the rant.

                Back to the subject..... Realistically we need a med-large to big vehicle. Keep the discussion going beause you all are giving us lots to consider and we appraciate it. Thanks!
                • Re: Best built 4X4?

                  Mon, February 2, 2009 - 2:33 PM
                  Speaking as an unknown here I am automatically suspect LOL, but...

                  I owned a 1979 IH Scout with both tops. The hard top I refinished after finding it at a junk yard for 100.00, total necessity in MN winter conditions.

                  345 V8 never really lacked for power. The 4-speed was really a 3 unless you were pulling stumps or rock crawling. I had 32" mudders on it, and it never, ever, got stuck in the years I had it. That speaks volumes if you have lived in the upper midwest.
                  Always started in Northern ND when nothing else would, I mean like -30F kind of stuff.

                  Bought a new 93 F-150 after I sold that to a buddy. Wasn't impressed.

                  Chevy blazer after that. Wasn't impressed.

                  My work trucks are all 3/4 ton chevy 4x4s. For the money they are very good, IMO, but the mileage sucks ass.

                  I drive Jeeps now. (Yeah, yeah) my 98 Grand Cherokee with the inline 6 went 200K in 10 years with jack squat for repairs. Say what you like about them, but I just bought an 06 Hemi Commander to replace it. We'll see how it fares!

                  My unasked for $.02
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                    Re: Best built 4X4?

                    Mon, February 2, 2009 - 4:28 PM
                    Yea I figured out the 1835 (meaning the year as a joke) about the time I hit submit on my response. Now he is talking aboiut 1776 ha ha ha . I am pretty well versed in Volkswagon motors and bolt on parts. I raced against a lot of them up on the dunes. Lots of 1641's 1776's because anyone can bolt on the jugs and heads right in parking lot, set the lifters fill it with oil and go. to tell you all the truth the old vw's can get around real good with a little extra horse power. Ive seen 1835's powered Vw,s take mustangs and camaros in short street drags. They really come out of the hole quick. With lift kits and big terra tires they go through bogs and mud runs pretty welll to. But they dont do well in the winter as they are light and cold.

                    As for that big Dodge pulling the 5th wheel you are a lucky man. My buddy had the Big 1 ton with the duals on the back and the V-10 he oulled a much smaller trailor for his construction business and he went through 4 transmissions with his. He finally got so pissed he took it back to the Dodge dealer and threatened to sue them. The truck was only 6 years old. I have another buddy who owns an automatic transmission shop. He told me that the (Automatic)Transmissions in the early Dodge trucks that came with the V-10 would not handle the torque of that engine. Maybe you have a stick? Our Dodge is a gutless poor excuse for a 4 wheel drive truck. It has trouble pulling a 17 foot aluminum fishing boat. I side with Brent. The Ford Triton v8 in a 3/4 ton pickup with a stick is the best truck built in the last 10 years. Tough as nails. Chevy next.
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                      Re: Best built 4X4?

                      Mon, February 2, 2009 - 4:41 PM
                      My buddy had a Type3 that handled really well in the snow. It was a blast.

                      The whole aircooled VW concept has a lot of great engineering strength built in to the design. Rear wheel drive with the engine right over the drive wheels.... our most wildly offroad military vehicles are designed the same way.

                      Those kubelwagon's (thing) were faster than the U.S.G.I. jeep, they were half as heavy, got better gas mileage, used less precious wartime raw material, and could still fulfill the same purpose and capacity, and handle all the same terrain.
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                      Re: Best built 4X4?

                      Mon, February 2, 2009 - 5:23 PM
                      Hey Michael...
                      Nope, we have an automatic. I prefer a stick, but like I said we got a hell of a deal on this one. Too bad your buddy had so much trouble. We've had Dodges most of our lives and never had any major problems. Not even enough little ones to be a pain in the ass.

                      As for the Ford Triton v8 in a 3/4 ton pickup with a stick, I don't mind Fords. They are my 2nd preference. Good to hear so many others think they are good trucks too.

                      I think we're going to definately look for an older vehicle. One with less or no computer/electronics to deal with. Our personal opinion is that the older vehicles were tuffer anyway. Thanks again for all the input.
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                        Re: Best built 4X4?

                        Mon, February 2, 2009 - 6:02 PM
                        i had a dodge.... it was a Ram 50....yes, 50.

                        As I understand, it was a mitsubishi Mighty-Max sold under import licence by Dodge. The engine and all the parts were stamped mitsubishi, but all over the outside it said Dodge.

                        it had a great A/C in it, and stereo. Everything else was a piece of crap. It steered too tight to the right, and like a semi-truck to the left. The engine was constantly fouling spark plugs, because the carb was worn out. And the warm air choke was malfunctioning all the time. And the throttle positioning sensor was always disengaging the gears on the freeway whenever I hit resistance like a hill or a headwind. It was also pathetically underpowered, and got horrible gas mileage on the best days.

                        Granted, it was old. But i expected more out of a car that had just barely topped 100k miles. I've known plenty of cars make it past 150k without a problem. My current car is flying by 285,000 miles on it, and still running like new.
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                          Re: Best built 4X4?

                          Thu, February 5, 2009 - 12:20 AM
                          Living in Idaho there are many rough steep washedout roads and by far the most popular truck for taking a licking and still ticking is the Ford. I have friends who bought the dodge because it was cheaper and you get what you pay for. As for chevy I am a hell of a chevy mechanic after owning 2. Never again. As for being able to keep your stuff safe, A locking canopy. you can have a rear slider in both the canopy and truck. put in an inflatable ring and it is water proof and the dogs and you can move back and forth between. Can't say I would recomend any SUV as they are built more for comfort than abuse. I had an F150 that besides oil and filter required tie rod ends after 160,000 miles and and an F250 that required nothing before I sold it at 132,000 miles. Currently working on another at 65,000 and no extra maintanance.
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                            Re: Best built 4X4?

                            Thu, February 5, 2009 - 7:59 AM
                            Yes I would agree. I have seen the same thing here in Michigan. We have a 1500 Dodge sport and its got 55,000 on it and is hanging on by a thread. Needs steering knuckles and tie rods and it has never plowed or off roaded. They are just not built for off road or work. Guys that plow with this model wreck the front ends in one season. My brother inlaw has an older dodge with the 360 in it,his truck is a pretty good one but it skakes and clatters. Its got over 200 thousand on it. All of the best plow trucks over here are Chevrolet 2500 or ford F250 the 3/4 ton models with the bigger trannies. Most of the guys have gone back to the older fords with manual locking hubs and are plowing circles around any of the new trucks. For the OP I would look for an older Ford Bronco and rebuild it from the ground up. 351 clevland c-6 automatic or a stick tranny , manual locking hubs and get some real good mudder type tires. That would give him the room, the power and the durability. Michael
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                              Re: Best built 4X4?

                              Thu, February 5, 2009 - 11:15 AM
                              Thanks guys. I really appreciatee all the info. I think we're going to look for an older Ford. It just seems to have the best of all worlds for us. Our Dodge is great but I think the older Ford will be just what we need if we have to haul ass.

                              This has been a great topic and I am looking foreward to more optinions on the subject. It's good to be here with you all.

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