Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

| 31 Dec 2011

It seems strange to be sitting here on New Year's Eve, gazing out at the mild weather and clear roads, yet wishing for leaden skies and snowfall. And no, it has nothing to do with the fact that we'll be back in the office in a day or so...

Because there is a unique pleasure to be gained from driving a classic car in the snow. I realise it's something that many will baulk at - I'll confess that I am hardly likely to use my Magnette as a daily driver on heavily salted roads - yet it is a thrill that is almost impossible to resist every time we get a proper blanket of the white stuff.

In part the appeal is that there are very few other adventurers out there, but more than that it's the way the snow takes you back to the very fundamentals of driving, and gives an even greater interaction between man and machine - not to mention a better understanding of your car's behaviour on the limit, but at much lower speeds.

Believe it or not, an old car is also far easier to drive than a new one on thickly covered roads. Sure, you will need your wits about you, but narrow tyres cut through the drifts much better than rubber-band low-profile jobs, and the driver aids that make your modern so safe on a dry or damp highway can render it a liability in icy conditions as the traction control refuses to let you pull away and the anti-lock brakes cut in early (and unhelpfully) to remove the driver from the heart of the action.

More than once in recent years I have been forced to abandon my front-drive Focus within half a mile of home and go back for my Suzuki Whizzkid, whose rear-engine/rear-drive set-up makes it exceedingly handy - not to mention brilliant fun - when the going gets snowy.

Likewise when I battled through a blizzard to Bristol to buy the MG, the modern Jag I had blagged to make the journey more comfortable barely managed to negotiate the road up the the MG's garage, yet the light, narrow-tyred 53-year-old had no such trouble.

I'm pretty sure there's a little bit of Berkshire that shares my prayer. Having proved himself the hardiest commuter in the office by managing his 110-mile round trip quite happily through a snowstorm in a Porsche 912, art man Port now has the ultimate snowplough: a Series Land-Rover. He's been watching the sky for flakes ever since November, and rest assured that, when the white-out does come, he'll be waving the classic flag - and no doubt rescuing dozens of moderns along the way.