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Motoring for a long descent

Permanent Linkby wisconsin_cur on Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:33 am

My attitude toward the fast crash v slow decline debate has always been that one should not bet on the apocalypse but it is good to be insured against it. What this means in terms of preparations is that I have sought to prepare to be permanently poor in a world with decreasing amounts of resources and increasingly local. While I am not preparing for the current state to the fall of the grid overnight, I do try to insure against it. It is realatively cheap to make sure one has a couple of years of calories on hand. An alternative source for clean drinking water is useful regardless of how the future plays out. I can keep my house warm better with electricity; but we will be just fine without. I do not expect the apocalypse but I do keep in my car all that I would need to hike home (in any season) in case of an EMP attack.

With that disclaimer, I feel that we must be prepared to live in a world where I need to motor to work and to town in a world where we are increasingly poor. A mute point in case of the apocalpse, an important point if it does not come to pass.

We are a two car family, here is the rationale for each vehicle.

photos are not my actual vehicle but lifted from the web


VW Golf TDI (diesel engine). This was my first peak oil aware purchase. I found a one year old model for sale when gas (and diesel) still floated in the low $1 a gallon range. It now has over 300k miles and has only required scheduled maintance. This is my workhorse vehile. It gets me to work and back and up until the present time, took the family on all extended trips. You can load a lot into the hatchback. I do not know how many times I have gotten a doubting look entering the lumber yard only to get a little respect as I leave with my entire load on board. I have hauled every kind of livestock that I own and i have commuted to work for 6 years. All this at around 45 - 55 mpg.


I recently purchased a 1995 Mazda MPV. It is in rough shape and has suffered some neglect but I have a very reasonably priced mechanic to it is cost efficient to have him do the work to it. My family is large and old enough that a mini-van is foreordained but this does not mean that it needs to be just a minivan.

The 4WD (not AWD) and locking differential gives this vehicle a little more ability to navigate roads that do not get cleared as quickly. Its towing capacity is large enough that, with a trailer, I can sell my light duty pick up truck. Though parts can be hard to come by, the MPV has a good reputation for lasing a long time. We are in the process of switching out a number of possible problem parts. The goal is to have a vehicle that will only need routine maintance for as long as possible... hopefully until trips to town are no longer possible for some reason other than a broken minivan.

Both are paid for. Both serve multiple purposes. Both required a larger upfront cost than some of the comparable models as a result of a reputation premium, but reputations that are earned. I think it is better to pay a little more now than to face an uncertain future and multiple repairs.

I have had to sacrifice one priority in the decisions I made. In a perfect world we would have found common makes and models to fill these rolls. the idea being that parts from scrapped vehicles would be available long after the manufacture, import or transport of spare parts passed into the past or became prohibitively expensive. Here I did have to make a bet. Only time will tell if I made the right one; or if it even matters.

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Sevareid's Law: "The leading cause of problems is solutions."
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Re: Motoring for a long descent

Permanent Linkby redstategreen on Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:07 pm

I test-drove a Mazda minivan back when the boys were born (would have been a '96). The seats seemed too hard to move around, and since it was going to be my car, we went with the Honda Odyssey. But the Mazda was on my short list. I sold the Odyssey to my sister when we moved to Oklahoma and got a Honda CR-V, which is my workhorse. It's got 4WD (great for ice storm weather) and better gas mileage (22 city, 26 highway if I drive carefully) than the minivans, and it holds pretty much anything we've needed to haul.

My husband recently got a Fit which gets really good gas mileage but I don't think as good as yours. I'd really like to get something like a Geo Metro, which can be fixed without resorting to computers. But I don't see getting another car unless something drastic happens with one of these.
It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. -- Gandalf (JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

Think quality not quantity. -- Cid_Yama
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