The Land Rover Writer

Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Snow

Unlike last winter it's been a quiet one, snow-wise, this year. This week the snow finally arrived in synch with the colder temperatures - so the snow stuck and has covered the roads.

Cold snowy weather brings out the best and worst in the Land Rover. The  best rises out of its four wheel drive; bang down on the yellow lever next to the gearshift and you're in high range four wheel drive. When you start off you can feel the front wheels scrabbling a bit, with a wider turning radius, but the car moves forward with a genuine assurance.

The good ground clearance, high torque at low rpm engine, and nicely-matched gearing lets the car hit the road with a encouraging sure-footed power. 

However, even a Land Rover cannot changes the laws of physics. Winter is nature's way of letting you know who's in charge, especially when slowing or stopping. When you hit the brakes you stop the tires from moving, so they slide along the snow or ice. When they slide or skid, the car follows and "Houston, we have a problem."So it's much wiser to let the car decelerate and keep your feet off the brakes as long as possible.

A 1966 Land Rover also adheres to 1966 standards concerning heat and defrosting; actually, since the heater used by Rover actually came into existence in the 1950's, we're talking about a time when drivers in the UK routinely drove with a chamois cloth to wipe off the windshield and matching blankets to warm the passengers. With its newer Mt Mansfield heater unit from Rovers North, my Rover will warm up but it takes a l-o-n-g time for the radiator to warm the coolant. You need to have a long drive, or multiple trips, to get the temperature to a pleasant level in the car. 

The Corvair, being air cooled, oddly heats up its engine relatively quickly but takes its time about warming up the cabin. The rear wheel drive does make for terrific traction in snow and ice. Even more weird, the British Triumph TR-7 has a terrific heater that can keep you warm and clear the windshield quickly - but without snow tires, it's a poor snow car.

Driving in the snow highlights why you should live in New England; you'll have a few months of this chill and occasional terror, and then it will turn into spring.

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