Which classic cars slide through the snow?

December 19, 2018
Atanas Nikolov

It is that time of the year again! Now we have finally started to enjoy the holiday cheer all around. Even when the temperatures outside drop, we seem to get warmer. Winter brings with it the nice, cozy feelings of being together. And waiting for the holidays, of course.

However, with all the good we tend to forget about certain issues. Well, at least until we have to face them. Like car drivers who are never too happy about the snow. Sure, it is all magical and gets us even more excited about the season. Too bad it also has the awful property of magically turning your car into a sleigh. Yet none of us want to sing Jingle Bells when that happens. The issue is even worse for classic cars.

While modern-day vehicles have some systems in place to alleviate the problem, the classics are on their own here. So what do you do if you have gotten yourself a nice vintage car as a present, but cannot even take it for a spin? And can we even tell which classic cars cannot handle snow at all? Let’s see!

What causes cars to slide in the first place?

Before we can answer any questions on sliding, we first have to look at its causes. Interestingly enough, they are not as obvious as people think. That is good though – once you find out why something happens, you can at least try to correct it.

For starters, there are different conditions that cause sliding during winter. Some of them are dependent on the vehicle, but some have to do with other things as well.

Take the types of snow for example. Depending on which one happens to hit us, your car may not slide through it at all. The type that is more watery and melts quickly is not an issue – at least at the beginning. Watery snow becomes a hassle once temperatures outside drop below freezing. At that point that nasty slush turns into an ice rink!

In terms of physics, your car slides along the ice (or snow) because there is not enough traction for the tires. This is why depending on the climate, it may be crucial to have winter tires on, rather than all-season ones. The rubber used with the former is a specific type that allows for more traction and does not get as stiff as all-season or summer tire rubber. Most winter tires even have biting edges to help you go through snow more easily.

You can check below for a quick reference about the reasons your car slides through the snow:

  • The car does not have appropriate tires for snow and ice.
  • The car is too light for the tires to get traction.
  • The tires are worn out and do not have a good grip.
  • The tires do not have the proper inflation pressure. It usually needs to be higher for winter tires.
  • There has been a significant shift in temperatures, causing snow to melt and then freeze up quickly, forming a rather dense ice sheet.
  • You accelerate and decelerate quickly, depending on brakes too much. They can lock up, causing the car to slide. This happens even with anti-lock braking systems.

All these issues plague modern and classic cars alike. However, the latter usually have it worse. Many do not have ABS or it is lacking in many regards. They also do not have tire tracking sensors to give you additional information. That being said, some classic cars are great even for snowy conditions. Want to know which these are?

Classic vehicles that handle snow pretty well

At first, I wanted to look into which vintage cars do not handle snowy roads well at all. However, this has led me to quite a few models that are actually praised for the opposite. So I figured it is a good idea to feature them and see what makes them such a great pick for winter conditions. Perhaps we can learn a thing or two and use that knowledge for our own cars – classics and modern alike.

1975 Subaru 4WD Station Wagon

What better vehicle to open the list than the very choice of the US Ski Team back in the day. It is a remarkable car, even if slightly ugly (okay, a lot).

What makes it special:

The 4-wheel drive system was specifically designed to make this car a workhorse. However, you had to manually shift from front wheels to 4WD, but only when real traction was needed. This made the use cases very limited, although quite great in snowy conditions.

What we can learn from it:

Traction is key when it comes to winter conditions, so even a lackluster 4WD can help us get out of a rut. Sadly, it is not ideal when you are already sliding through the snow.

1983 Audi Quattro

The name of this vehicle points to its all-wheel drive. Interestingly enough, the company has kept that name as an add-on for all their AWD vehicles. That being said, 1983 Audi Quattro was not the most successful vehicle, as it was quite expensive back in the day. It was not produced in great quantities either, so it is a bit hard to find nowadays.

What makes it special:

Audi unveiled the model on a skating rink! If that does not speak to its qualities on the ice, I do not know what will. It was also designed as a rally car for rough conditions. Its system allowed it to blast through snowy regions even with summer tires.

What we can learn from it:

The internal design of the vehicle is crucial to how it performs during snowy weather. If the car has been designed to handle it from the get-go, it does not matter how old it is.

The Original VW Beetle

It is easy to see how an AWD rally car and a 4WD workhorse make the list, but how about this thing? I have written about the VW Beetle, and I was still surprised to learn it also made for a great winter car!

What makes it special:

The engine of this vehicle was in the rear. This helped a ton because its weight was directly over the drive wheels. That way the wheels have enough traction to not slide over snow.

What we can learn from it:

Smart vehicle design is crucial for handling, even if the car is not made for winter in particular. So if you spread the weight of the car properly, you can actually get good traction, even with a light vehicle.

With all that said, I have still not mentioned a single classic model that cannot really handle winter conditions. Well, there is a reason for that…

Which classic cars have it the roughest during winter?

When I set out to look for vintage cars that have it particularly rough when driving in snow, I was a bit surprised. It turns out quite a lot of classics seem to be doing just fine in winter. With a few caveats, of course.

A crucial thing to point out is that classic convertibles are obviously not great for such conditions. Even if you equip them with everything necessary, you will still be asking for trouble. These vehicles were not designed for such cases even when they were brand new.

There is also another interesting note – all the current classics have once been regular cars. People used them back then throughout all kinds of weather. So instead of focusing on particular models that cannot handle the weather, let’s look at how we can make them all “winter-proof”.

Tips for surviving winter driving in classic cars

One of the biggest challenges to the aesthetics of the vehicle is corrosion. This is perhaps among the main reasons why people are afraid of taking their classics out during the winter. Even though this has nothing to do with sliding, it is still a major concern. With snow and salt all around you may be inviting rust straight in. However, you can address that easily by rust-proofing your car. Many auto shops offer it and you can even do it by yourself with the right tools.

Now to talk a bit about fixing the sliding problems. Firstly, make sure you equip your classic car with the appropriate tires for the season. It goes without saying that this will not be correct to the period, from which the car comes. But you have to do it if you want to drive safely.

Secondly, you can load the car up a bit for better traction. This is not necessary for all vehicles, but as the VW Beetle has shown, a bit of weight at the appropriate place goes a long way.

Finally, you have to acquire a new skill – winter driving. It is quite useful with modern vehicles as well without being terribly hard. It consists of a simple rule – the softer the ground the softer you brake. You need to learn how to decelerate without excessive braking, and also how to steer in the case of skidding. Essentially, this skill is a better version of the anti-lock braking system of modern cars. So it is a great thing that every driver should have in their arsenal anyway.

Do you want a classic car as your Christmas present this year?

As you can see, it is not difficult to enjoy a classic vehicle during winter. So why not consider getting a nice present for yourself this year? Go online and look for the vintage ride that you have always wanted. Perhaps you can find a good deal this time around. After all, miracles happen during the holidays, right?

After you find what you are looking for, we can always help you with classic car shipping. And do not worry – we provide specialized transport to protect the precious vehicle from the weather outside. That way it will get to you safe and sound!

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