Welcome to part four of our Countdown to The Walking Dead, that paragon of television excellence in post-zombageddon form. In our last post, we discussed our top choice for the perfect ZSV platform: the 4WD Ram 3500 diesel. Here’s what to do with it. Full disclosure: I’ve included some links to the store so you can get started now. Because I want humanity to survive.
Now that we have our Cummins-powered anti-monster monster, it’s time to make it better with some old-timey truck modifications. Tough as it is, the truck has some weak spots that need shoring up, and there’s plenty of room for other work, too. There’s a prison full of ways to customize a truck – some good, some bad.
Let’s break it down:
General Exterior Truck Modifications
- Lift Kit: As previously mentioned, when your enemy is hording around you, it’s best to go over, rather than under them. If you can lift your truck, do it. When everybody’s dead, nobody can accuse you of driving a bro-truck.
- Off-road Tires: Grip will be everything when you’re climbing over those mounds of squirming, slippery corpses. Don’t worry about custom truck wheels and keeping everything nice. You need traction. Plus, as Michonne pathetically demonstrated in season three, you don’t want to get stuck in the mud.
- Caged Glass: If you lock your doors, the walkers aren’t getting into your truck. They’re not going to claw their way through sheet metal. The glass, however, can break after enough impacts, and if that shatters, it’s an invitation to dinner. I think expanded metal mesh should do fine with covering the glass, though it might be a pain to see through. It can be welded or easily screwed to the bodywork. If your supplies are running low, even chicken wire is an improvement.
- Biodiesel Conversion: This is crucial, because as we’ve explained before, fuel, even diesel, has a shelf-life. Eventually you’ll need to make your own go-juice out of whatever you can grow or kill. You may even be able to run on dead walkers. We’ll let Professor Science figure that stuff out. What you’ll need is a system to heat your fuel lines, extra battery power, and probably some extra filters.
- Power Inverter: Where else are you going to plug in?
- Grille Guard: Forget mounting a .50 to the roof. I mean, you can do that, too, but your main weapon is going to be your grille guard. Forget all the bling that comes with custom truck grills. It’s good for smashulating walker skulls. It also has to protect your radiator and the rest of your engine compartment.
- Bumper: Production bumpers are designed to satisfy DOT low-speed crash requirements, not rid the world of biters. Get one like these from Fab Fours with a winch mount ready to go.
- Winch: A winch isn’t just for pulling you out of ditches. You might need to clear highways or…pull your friends out of ditches.
- Skid Plate and Underbody Protection: Since you’re going over the enemy, you don’t want all their cold, shredded digits getting caught up in your belts and hoses. A skid plate will help defend, but you’ll probably need to come up with some modular plastic plating, or maybe more of that expanded metal, to fill in the gaps.
- Power Programmer: More power is never a bad thing.
- Seat Covers: Remove, wash off brains, replace. It’s easy.
- CB Radio: Hopefully your surviving tribe will have more than one vehicle, and you need to be able to communicate with the rest of the convoy.
- Floor Mats: See “seat covers” above.
- Sunroof: It may sound like a feature for Veronica, who was upset she didn’t get a Golf Cabriolet and just wants to let her hair blow in the wind on the way to field hockey practice, but a sunroof is actually one of the most crucial modifications you can make to your ZSV. Walkers can’t climb, so the roof makes a great way to get in and out of the truck at need, especially if your windows are caged over. I recommend caging the sunroof, too, but it should be able to unlatch and swing away.
Bed and Rear
- Wood Sides: The chief advantage of choosing a pickup is that you can turn the bed into a rolling battle platform, sortof like those giant battle oliphaunts in The Lord of the Rings. Thankfully, you won’t have to deal with swift-handed elves. Slow-handed walkers won’t be able to climb over the wooden fence around the bed, but the gunners and crossbowmen will still be able to shoot through it.
And once again, you don’t need quarter-inch steel plating. Wood is cheaper, lighter, and easier to work with, and will be just as effective at keeping those chipped, green fingernails off your crew. You’ll need to fashion a door or two to fit above the tailgate. Cover with a tarp and you have a weatherproof tent.
- Transfer Tank: Last week I mentioned that when you find diesel, you find alot of it. You want to be able to haul as much as you can carry, so a transfer tank is always a good idea. It also provides some higher ground if the truck bed fortress is breached.
- Water Barrel or Jugs: They don’t discuss it much in the show, but you’re going to spend a great deal of your day looking for food and water. Make sure your containers can be visually differentiated from the fuel storage.
- Air Compressor: Nothing speeds up a tire change like an air compressor. And 96% of your tire changes will need to be fast. If you’d like to save space, you can even get a Warn Powerplant Dual Force, which pairs a winch with a compressor.
- Gun Racks: They’re not just for guns. You can line your wood sides with enough racks to hold all the baseball bats, katanas, axes, and compound bows you can carry.
If you’re a car person and a fan of The Walking Dead, you’ve undoubtedly given this subject alot of thought. Especially when you see what vehicles Swiss Family Grimes chooses for cruising the southern wastes.
So I want to hear your ideas? How would you direct your truck modification? What vehicle would you start with in the first place? What am I missing? The best idea will win a $20 StreetsideAuto.com gift card, so get cracking in the comments.