Neither Snow, Rain, Heat, nor Gloom Stays This Bug Out Vehicle
This one is part of Perrin’s neverending series on finding the perfect bug out vehicle. So many choices… Here’s another one – maybe not the best, but bear with me…
So the other day I was driving around and I had a prepper epiphany! I passed one of so many inconspicuous, white US Postal Service trucks and I thought about the old Postal motto. They say that neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays the postman from his route.
I got to thinking that you see these postal trucks everywhere. It occurred to me that I didn’t even know what kind of trucks they are. In the old days I remember the postman driving something that look like a Willys Jeep with a camper shell on the back. Remember those? Then it seems like maybe 20-30 years ago they switched over to the newer rectangular box trucks. So I did a little research and I’ve come up with some information for you. These little trucks just might make a very good bug-out vehicle. Here’s why:
By the way, it’s the Grumman LLV!
Picture by Wiki.
With a little assistance from our good friend the internet, I discovered that the mail truck is a Grumman long life vehicle, or LLV for short. It was intentionally designed as a mail truck for the United States Postal Service although it is also used by the Postal Service in Canada. Yes, these trucks replaced the old fashioned, I’ll call them Jeeps. Production in 1987 with the last model rolling off the assembly line around 1994. I believe that Grumman is a heavy military contractor and is used to building heavy-duty, long-lived vehicles. That’s a good BOV start.
The chassis is based off of a 1982 Chevy S10 Blazer and comes with a General Motors engine, a 2.5 L inline 4-cylinder or, later, a GM 2.2 L inline 4. It features a 3-speed automatic transmission.
Currently there are over 140,000 LLVs in the USPS delivery fleet. The truck has a cargo capacity of 1000 lbs. However, it only features one seat, that being for the driver, and it happens to be on the “wrong” side.
Okay, nothing a little retro-fitting wouldn’t cure for preppers.
Buying an LLV
The USPS is looking into overhauling the LLV or replacing it – at some point. That means many will become available on the private market. Some already are. And there are several places where you can find a used postal truck to purchase.
One may be available locally at a dealership, auction, or other industrial vehicle dealer. Consider looking online, especially at www.govdeals.com.
As with any used car, take your new, used LLV to a good mechanic for a third-party inspection.
The estimated price range for a used LLV is in the three to $5,000 range. Although prices can range as high as $20,000.
These trucks may or may not come with several legal issues. Be sure to check with the local laws in your city, county, and State. They are technically considered commercial vehicles although you do not need a commercial driver’s license to operate one. There are other issues about the steering wheel on the wrong side. You may have to have a special permit for that and other things. Also note, and I have never noticed this before, but none of these trucks have license plates. You of course will have to register your new used LLV with the man and then affix a license plate to either the rear or both bumpers. So far, still so good.
So, what are they like to operate?
For general drivability I found an article by Eric Brandt. He served as a postman for several years and “fondly” recalls driving the LLV, one older than he was. Please read his article for what it’s like to operate one of these vehicles on the roads and under various conditions. They definitely have pros and cons.
The big pro would be the utilitarian style, reliability, and also the extremely easy turning radius.
The major drawback that Brandt notes, being a Northerner, is that there is no 4 wheel drive and the vehicles do not handle that well in the snow and ice. Yet, somehow, they did/do manage to still keep going.
Picture by PNW Riders.
Converting for BOV Usage
Assuming the LLV is suitable for you and that you find one, here are some ideas for outfitting it for the bug out trail:
The conversion could be as easy as attaching a license plate and rolling on.
Or, you could do a partial to total refit. 1,000 capacity will allow for decent load carrying. If it’s just you, then you could have plenty of “stuff” in the back. I suppose a tow bar could be attached for extra capacity.
The box seems a little short for a sleeper berth, though a cot or something could conceivably extend into the front. There’s just enough room for a toilet and mini kitchen arrangement.
Of course, you could just leave the cargo box essentially as-is and loading it with food, water, guns, and whatnot.
If it’s you and passengers, then you’ll need to add some seats. That I will leave to your imagination. The LLV could easily become a four-seater with room left over for some gear. A roof rack might be added. And, then, there’s the idea of the trailer.
Assuming you want an off-road BOV, then the sky’s the limit for drivetrain modification – budget being the only constraint. 4WD is plausible but pricey. So is traction control, a lift, and other potential conversions. Up to you.
And the whole concept is up to you. The Gov Deals site is loaded with used trucks, cars, and all manner of potential BOVs. Look around.
Should you decide on an LLV, then I’ll leave this as the final word:
This may make the perfect ON ROAD BOV. And it might be better suited for use in the South, unless you’re willing to do some extra work. As for the raw utility potential, it’s there.
As an added bonus, you could drive around and play jokes on neighbors. Play pretend to deliver the mail. Watch them walk out to check. Laugh and run… Or not…
Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at www.perrinlovett.me. He is none too fond of government meddling.