The world is a crazy place at the moment. There is a global pandemic, they’ve stopped filming Eastenders and the local Tesco Express has run out of dried pasta. Oh, and approximately 3% of the population apparently has 95% of the country’s toilet paper. It’s madness. Old people are being locked away like precious jewels, children are running amok in the streets despite Government advice, cats and dogs are living together, it’s mass hysteria.
The Four Horsemen could well be re-shoeing their steeds as we type. This could be the end of days (though it’s probably not, provided you follow the Government’s advice, stay home and browse Car & Classic). It is time, then, to plan what vehicles we should acquire in a bid to stay mobile in our dystopian future in which penne is the new currency and people are willing to exchange their children for toilet roll.
Staying mobile is key, or should we say, having the ability to be mobile is key. Self-isolation is of course the most important thing, but you will have to venture out from time to time. And you don’t want to be doing that in an MGB GT. Instead, you want one of these tough machines.
1) Mercedes-Benz W123
When the pasta and eggs run out, you’re going to need something hardy, tough and reliable. And when you require all of those qualities in one vehicle, there really is only one you can turn to: the mighty W123 Mercedes-Benz. It’s engineered like nothing else, it’s practical, it’s comfortable and it will be fine even with half a ton of tagliatelle in the boot.
The W123 has been with us since 1975 and today it represents the perfect classic you can use every day. Parts availability is excellent, home maintenance is easy despite the incredible engineering (well engineered doesn’t mean it has to be complicated), and if you get a TE estate version with the optional rear seats, you’ll have enough space for seven people. And when we’re scrapping in the scorched earth over the last carton of milk, numbers matter.
2) Series 1 Land Rover
The Series 1 Land Rover, despite dating from the 1940s, is the perfect vehicle for an end-of-the-world scenario. It is the vehicle that got Great Britain back on its feet after the war, it is the vehicle that gave farmers the mobility needed to once again grow crops, it is a vehicular saviour. It’s also incredibly simple, meaning that when the dust settles, you won’t need specialist tools. Instead, just sift through the rubble of what was once Halfords and grab a socket set – you’ll be set. There really isn’t a lot to go wrong on an early Landy. The only thing to watch out for is rust, so grab some Waxoyl while you’re picking up that socket set.
For extra survival points, try and find one with PTO (power take off) fitted. This device diverts power from the engine to auxiliary equipment. Back in the day, you could buy a digger that would bolt onto the back of a Landy with PTO. You could start the new world’s construction efforts. Or, use it to dig some hole for planting crops. Up to you.
3) Original Mini
Don’t scoff. The original Austin/Rover Mini has a place in the new world order. There is chaos everywhere, the streets are strewn with rubble and broken jars of Aldi’s pasta bake. A big car has no place here, there is too much detritus, too much to avoid. And then, of course, there are the hordes of people fighting for the last scraps. If you find any kind of bounty, they’ll want to take it from you. This is where the Mini comes in.
It’s small, it’s light and it’s nimble. If The Italian Job taught us anything, it’s that the original Mini can go where no other car can, and this is of paramount importance. You’ll be laughing like a drain as you drive through a drain with your boot full of Super Noodles. The hordes won’t be able to capture you. Just remember, when you get back to your camp, raise a glass to Mr. Issigonis. Your new saviour.
4) Mercedes-Benz Unimog
Another goal for Mercedes-Benz here, in the form of the mighty Unimog. It might not be the most common sight on UK roads, but trust us, it’s a vehicle worth hunting for. This all-wheel drive terrier can go anywhere, it can climb over almost anything and thanks to being a Mercedes, it will never, ever break down. Plus, it’s a truly tried and tested machine, having been around since 1948. It’s favoured by the German Military. It’s used in 4×4 competitions and Bruce Willis drove one in Die Hard 5. You don’t get much tougher than that.
The best bit about the Unimog is the potential. Being a forward cab design, you have the rear end to play with. You could fit winches, you could fit a flatbed, or you could build a camper body on it and in the process, create a mobile base for off-grid living. Use the 4×4 capabilities to escape the chaos and find yourself some tranquility.
5) BMW E38 ‘Protection’
A BMW E38 7 Series is not the first car you think of when pondering mobility after society has crumbled because of a lack of loo roll. And to be frank, we wouldn’t suggest a normal E38. We would, however, suggest this, a BMW E38 ‘Protection’. Built by a specialist arm of BMW, the Protection range of cars does what it says on the tin. The glass is bulletproof, the floors are reinforced against blasts, the engine is protected and in the case of some models, there is even an oxygen tank to keep the occupants alive and well.
The E38 Protection is a car to have in waiting. Save it for when you need to move out, and when you do, you’ll be safe. Nobody can get you, nothing can stop you, and thanks to being an E38, you’ll have the pace to get away quickly. Plus, you’ll look good doing it – the E38 is still a handsome car. And while we might have collapsed as a society, there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in one’s appearance.
Of course, this is all meant as a bit of fun. However, there is no escaping the fact that the global COVID-19 pandemic is worrying. Just remember to check the Government advice, self-isolate as best you can, and look after yourself. Also, please remember that we’re all in this together. There is no need to panic buy, there is no need to be mean to your fellow man. Let’s get through this as a team.