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5 reasons why old cars are good in winter

5 reasons why old cars are good in winter

About the author

Chris Pollitt is an award-winning automotive word-wrangler, editor of the website Not 2 Grand and a keen collector of crappy old cars.

“Oh no,” says the staunch enthusiast, “I don’t drive my classic car in winter. No, I put in the garage until spring”. But why? Old cars aren’t grizzly bears. They don’t roll over and splutter to a halt when the first snowflake drops. They’re cars. They were built to be driven, and to be driven all year round.

No matter how cherished a classic car might be today, there’s no escaping the fact that back when it was just a car, not a classic, it would have been used through all four seasons. Why is that different now?

Of course, some care has to be taken. We’re not suggesting you drive your XK150 directly behind a grit lorry, or that you should take your open-top Morgan out during a blizzard.

What we are saying though, is that you shouldn’t put classic cars away for six months. You worked hard for that classic, so use it all year round. If you’re reading this and shaking your head, let us try and convince you with the following five reasons…

01 It’s good for the car

Only using your car in the fine, summer months may seem like a good thing, but it’s really not. A car needs to cycle through seasonal temperature changes to keep everything working and everything healthy.

A broader range of seasonal exposure will give greater overall tolerances. It’ll stop the rubber bits from drying out, it’ll stop the seats from cracking and getting brittle, it’ll help keep that convertible top supple and watertight.

Think of it this way: if you only went out when it’s warm, you’d run for the hills the moment the mercury went downwards. Your car’s components will do the same.

02 It’ll lift your mood

Winter is, let’s face it, miserable. You go to work in the dark, you come home in the dark. It’s soul destroying. But it’s even worse if you have to do all that commuting or other driving in a bland, soulless modern car.

Yes, it might be warm, and it might have heated seats, but it’s not exciting. It’s not going to be sitting in the office car park while your enthusiasm for the end of the day builds, but a classic will.

An old car is like a trusty pooch, there to do nothing but please you and make you smile. In the depressing winter months, we need that.

03 They’re better in the snow

What? Don’t look at us like that. Old cars are better in the snow. First of all, they’re lighter, so they’re keener to skip over the white stuff.

Then there are the computers, or lack thereof. There is no sensor or sensors nannying things and stopping the car from driving. It’s just you, your hands and feet and your experience.

Little, narrow tyres will cut through the snow, too. And you’ll only be stopped when it gets three foot deep. A classic car will keenly plough through snow while modern cars will have an almighty panic about it. And this leads us on to…

04 It’ll improve your driving

Your senses will be heightened, you’ll be more aware of what your feet are doing than a Broadway dancer, you’ll be sharp, alert and focused. As we said in point three, there are no computers here to help you. It is man and machine, and nothing else.

Your driving will improve drastically, whether it’s because you have to leave bigger gaps, or because you’re very aware of every spin of the wheels. ABS?

There’s none of that, just you and your ability to cadence brake. Yes, the modern car on the driveway has many, many EuroNCAP stars, but where the thrill, the determination and the adrenaline?

05 It can cope with it

Classic cars are not elderly relatives. They are not fine China. They are not that crystal fruit bowl your mother loves. They are cars, they are machines and they are built to be used whether the sun is shining or whether the sky is falling down.

Of course, this all depends on your car. Your 1934 Morgan three-wheeler probably should sit winter out. But your Cortina, your 1978 Mercedes? Not only can they cope with cold weather, they were tested and developed to deal with it.

If you look after your classic, services, bodywork, rust proofing and the like, then you have nothing to worry about. It wasn’t built for summer; it was built for every month of the year. So get out there and enjoy it.