The Land Rover Writer

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Corvair Emerges from its Ice Pen

This island's "long drives" rarely get into double figures. It's hard to go more than 12 miles in one direction without falling into the sea. So winter drives in classic cars present a real problem; how to drive far enough and for a long enough period of time to warm up the engine, transmission, etc., such that you're not doing long-term harm to the car.

So a run to the dump, open a few days a week, provides the perfect opportunity to stretch out the driving time. We have only one road that actually circumnavigates the island - about halfway up the island - and that's where the dump is located. Not only is Round the Island Road perfect for extending a drive, but it's quite narrow and winding at the same time. This time on year, on a Sunday, you're likely to be alone on the roads so you can open up the carburetors, too. The island is also the home of $3.85/gallon gasoline so you balance the desire to drive against the heft of your wallet.

Today, after church, seemed the perfect time to trot out the Corvair. It had sat for over a week, never started and now sitting on a sheet of packed snow and ice. 

With the temperature in the low 30's, it fired right up and I let it idle for a few moments. It skidded a bit climbing up and out of its parking spot. I loaded up the rubbish and recyclables and headed off to the dump. The car ran a bit rough on the way over; I drove it gently while waiting for it to warm up.

After the dump run and a chat with the two dumpmasters, I took the long way home to enjoy driving a rear engine, rear wheel drive car with a fully independent rear suspension. With its light steering, airy cabin and nimble feel, the Corvair brought a big smile to my face. Then came the snow squall and suddenly the bare roads quickly accumulated a covering of snow. The rear engine/RWD gave the car such great traction that I could still goose it from a standing start and give the car a wide open throttle (WOT) run - twice because the road was empty. The first time the car bogged down some at high rpm in second gear, but the next time, it accelerated through all the gears without a hiccup. 

The ride ended all too soon. The entire distance covered barely 5 miles. It's still snowing and the drive is becoming a memory, but my, what a nice way to bring joy to a mundane chore.

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