It’s that time of year again. The white stuff is threatening to fall from the heavens and the news channels are screaming warnings of “snowmageddon” and “traffic chaos”. Well, it makes a change from Brexit.
Of course, once you’ve enjoyed the postcard-perfect scene through your window, the reality of getting up, getting out and getting on with everyday life in such conditions can be anything other than fun – unless you’re a child (or teacher) hoping for a snow day, that is.
So, tell me, am I alone in believing there’s a unique pleasure to be gained from driving a classic car in the snow?
I realise it’s something many will baulk at. And I’ll confess that once it’s back on the road I’m unlikely to use my MG Magnette as a daily driver on heavily salted roads.
Yet it’s a thrill that is almost impossible to resist on the rare occasions that we get a proper blanket of the white stuff.
Part of the appeal is that there are very few other adventurers out there, which makes a refreshing change, especially if you’re anywhere near London as I am.
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, safer speeds.
Believe it or not, an old car is also far easier to drive than a new one on thickly snow-covered roads.
Sure, you’ll 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.
I remember, in years gone by, on more than one occasion being forced to abandon my front-drive Ford Focus within half a mile of home and going 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 to the MG’s garage, yet the light, narrow-tyred half-century-old classic had no such trouble.
I’m pretty sure there’s a little bit of Berkshire that shares my prayer for a bit of snow.
Having previously 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 Editor Martin Port’s Series II Land-Rover is the perfect all-weather classic that kept him moving when last year’s ‘Beast from the East’ struck.
As he wrote in the ‘Our classics’ pages of Classic & Sports Car magazine: “For three days, the Land-Rover was no longer a plaything; no longer an indulgence. Instead, it became a tool for transporting people safely; running essential errands; and getting us where we needed to go. All in style and with simple mechanical elegance. And no, I’m not smug – just proud to own something that, at 59 years old, can still do what it was designed to do so well in the first place.”
We’re sure the Landie is primed once more and when – or if – the white-out comes, he’ll be waving the classic flag – and no doubt rescuing dozens of moderns along the way.