This post is an attempt to look at this process through the lens of finding the best car available, in which to survive a zombie apocalypse.
Surviving a zombie apocalypse is not all that common a buyer prerequisite. In focus groups, the ‘surviving a zombie apocalypse’ box is hardly ever ticked below the ‘main reason for buying a new car’ inquiry. (However, it may be that prospective zombie apocalypse survivors are an unsung subset of the people who tick the ‘other’ box in automotive marketing surveys.)
Zombie disaster survival and its attendant vehicular selection came to light this week in the USA when the US Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the following warning, titled: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. In the White House Situation Room, Obama's staff promptly moved the zombie apocalypse threat level to DefCon 4.
This is not a joke. Actually, the bit about the White House and DefCon 4 is. However, the CDC actually posted its advice for zombie apocalypse survival. See it here: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.
I had formerly never seriously considered what steps to take, the better to insulate myself from an attack by a ravenous horde of undead post-human flesh-eating monsters, but the CDC’s official warning made me think. Specifically it made me think perhaps there were too many Resident Evil re-runs getting played on the box in Atlanta lately.
In its warning, the CDC went into great detail. For example, the term ‘Zombie’ derives from Haitian Voodoo and loosely refers to a corpse that undergoes inexplicable reanimation to facilitate some (typically) sinister undead vocation. In Night of the Living Dead the condition is called Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome, explaining away the prevailing need for the undead to sate their hunger by devoting most of their post-death free time to securing and feasting on brains of the living.
The official CDC zombie apocalypse emergency action plan involves preparing a kit with things like water, food (for yourself, not the zombies – to them, you are the food), medications, tools (duct tape, an Uzi, etc), clothing, documents and first-aid supplies. (Ideally, CDC says, you’d do this preparation before all the people formerly living in your street emerged from the grave hungry and with a certain malevolent gleam in their glazed-over eyes.)
In the pre-zombie apocalypse preparatory phase CDC says it’s also a neat idea to sit down as a family to discuss where you might go and who you might call (for example, Mila Jovovich) if zombies show up at the foot of your bed unexpectedly one night.
Once the undead apocalypse is under way, however, the CDC tells us it’s good idea to have a pre-arranged meeting place for your family to regroup in the event you all become momentarily separated and displaced when the undead take up residence in your family home. You should also carry a list of current emergency contacts (for example, Mila, or some other more local zombie exterminator - or is that ex-terminator? - and the number for the admitting desk at the nearest zombie-free refugee camp).
CDC advises you to prepare a transportation plan because, as they say: “When zombies are hungry they won’t stop until they get food, which means you’ll need to get out of town fast!” Good advice … which is where we come in.
So, if you’re considering buying a new vehicle to shepherd you through the valley of zombie apocalyptic darkness, what’s the conveyance most likely to boost your chances of surviving? Humvee? Bradley fighting vehicle? Hmmm? Probably not a convertible.
According to my research on this issue, mostly using Hollywood, zombies appear to be quite adept at attacking people in conventional cars, and often find the restrictive nature of the average car’s interior to be a distinct advantage since it prevents the living for going for his/her gun, while at the same time keeping the head roughly in the one spot, which is ideal for efficient access to the brain during a feeding frenzy.
So, we’d want a vehicle without conventional glass, which is like butter to a hot knife as far as a hungry horde of zombies is concerned, and convertibles are out. Where does that leave us?
According to Fox News last week, the ideal vehicle for surviving a zombie apocalypse is a Knight XV, which is manufactured by the appropriately named Conquest Vehicles Inc. It’s hard to disagree.
It’s unclear whether Conquest’s engineers considered surviving a concentrated undead assault in their functional specification for the Knight XV – but it appears very well suited to this application. (A search for the term ‘zombie apocalypse survival capability’ on Conquest’s website yielded no worthwhile results.) For starters, the Knight XV makes a Hummer look anorexic. The XV is built on a Freightliner truck chassis, stands 2.5 metres tall and weighs almost six tonnes. It deserves its own postcode.
The Knight XV is six metres long and has a payload capacity of around 4.5 tonnes – so there’s plenty of room inside for the family, and their weapons. This second point is important because if Hollywood is any kind of guide to CDC’s proposed zombie pandemic you will probably be reasonably highly motivated to smite the undead with great vengeance and righteously furious anger before the threat is past.
However, if you really do believe the meek shall inherit, you may wish just to ensconce yourself in the XV, turn the other cheek and chill (air conditioning is standard). This, too, is possible. The Knight XV features a flat-screen TV with satellite reception, a bar, and even an onboard cigar humidor. So, depending on preference, you might not choose the ‘smite’ option but instead kick back and enjoy light refreshments, entertainment and generally take the edge off as the zombies outside flail their rotting flesh impotently against the XV’s opaque bullet-proof glass and armoured body panels. Personal laptop stations are optional, and might come in handy for live uploading of zombie attack footage on YouTube.
Don't worry - it's claimed the Knight XV can withstand up to 24 hours of sustained gunfire, a level of attack the undead are unlikely to be able to co-ordinate. Think of it as a rolling panic room ... without the panic. It is literally a Knight in shining, assault weapons-proof armour.
If you're chilling it will be best to go easy on the booze, however, because sadly there’s no onboard bathroom, and you wouldn’t want to be in the kind of compromised position where you had to poke anything made of living flesh beyond the armoured exterior and into the flesh-eating domain.
Before the Knight's bathroom deficiency becomes a problem it would probably be wise to take advantage of the Knight XV’s 385/65x22.5 Michelin run-flat tyres (optional) to facilitate your vehicular evac to a friendlier place full of only living humans, preferably behind zombie lines. You’ll remain pneumatically unchallenged no matter how many undead femurs are shattered in the process, nor how many conventional cars have to be rammed aside in the process. If there’s a fair old degree of probable ramming on your proposed agenda, I’d go for the ‘armoured grille’ option.
Zombies usually attack at night. Hollywood is very clear on this. So you’ll be pleased to know the Knight XV features optional night-vision FLIR Systems PathFindIR camera technology front and rear, on individual screens.
The price of ultimate zombie survival transportation is steep, with the base model Knight XV kicking the tin at around $300,000. With government charges on top you’d be looking at more than half a million on the road here in Oz … except it’s unregisterable. (I wouldn’t pay too much attention to pesky bureaucratic rules like that, however, at the height of a virulent zombie pandemic).
And hey, even if the CDC is wrong and the dead remain dead, the Knight XV offers more statement value than rocking up to a red carpet gig in a dozen Lamborghinis. If you're wearing a miniskirt and matching Kalashnikov, it's the only game in town. However, it's probably not for you if you've ever bothered to calculate your carbon footprint.
(FYI, the CDC posted the ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ warning to get people thinking about, and prepared for, real, likely emergencies like floods and hurricanes, not because they know something ordinary citizens don’t about the undead. Similar preparatory steps are required, after all. Interestingly, the CDC's ‘Zombie apocalypse’ post quickly became the most viewed item on the CDC website.)