Welcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! Hard times is a-comin', and it's time to prepare for life on the move!
The global economic meltdown doesn't mean you have to take a break from Hell Projects. In fact, it's more important than ever that you break out your Hell Project skills in order to give you and your'n an edge when it comes time to hit the road in search of work, handouts, escape from rampaging urban mobs, etc… and that means building a vehicle that can haul you, your loved ones, and a large percentage of your personal possessions around the land. We're talking pots and pans, crates of squawking chickens, and mattresses strapped to the outside of the vehicle here, with maybe Grandma lashing down the spare engine with bungee cords as you horse-trade some crafty yokel for a sack of cornmeal to feed your white liquor still. Sure, you could just buy a diesel Econoline and be done with it, but it's not just enough to survive, like rats or roaches. You need to roam the land in style!
The 1957 Cadillac is one fine-looking car, no doubt about it, and Cadillac built bulletproof forged-crank engines back in those days, but even a Fleetwood wouldn't be voluminous enough for your Joad-style peregrinations. Time to go Winnebago shopping? Hell no, not when you could have this 1957 Cadillac camper, which is now sitting on eBay with a price tag just barely into four figures, no reserve, and an auction end time just hours away. It doesn't run at the moment, but as the seller says: "IT MIGHT FIRE UP WITH A FRESH BATTERY AND SOME FRESH GAS." Even if it doesn't, the junkyards are full of Cadillac 472s, and even a smogified 425 will get the job done. Check out that luxurious interior- plenty of room for everyone! Thanks to Ian for the tip.
That Cadillac camper is great, but you and your fellow Joads would be forced to panhandle twice as hard to keep it fueled up (or, even worse, you'd be forced to use your whiskey still to make 200-proof to burn in the engine). What you need is a vehicle with space for family members, pets, livestock, weapons, etc., yet doesn't go through gas the way the Federal Reserve is currently going through banknote-printing ink. You could get one of those Toyota truck-based campers, but living in one of those isn't really living. Instead, this 1985 VW Rabbit six-door limo will do the job. It's got plenty of space, an economical four-cylinder engine, and will show all those other losers at the hobo jungle that you've got class! The engine isn't in the car- something about an attempted VR6 swap- but the seller will include it in the deal. You might even consider grafting the bed from a VW pickup onto the back, for more carrying capacity. You might need a running start to get up hills, but that's no big hardship! Thanks to Nitroracer for the tip.