Classic cars were made to be used during the winter months. There, I’ve said it, so all that I now have to do is to persuade you to take the little beauty onto those salted, icy highways.
Okay, I know that a lot of time and money has gone into the fettling of your car and why on earth would you want to subject it to all that filth? I’ll tell you. Because ensuring that your car is ready to take on the worst that the weather can throw at it, means that it should be in tip-top condition at all times and there’s one more thing. It may well be better behaved in the snow, with its skinny tyres. Volkswagen Beetle owners will know exactly what I mean here.
The first step to classic winter happiness is sorting out reliability issues. Splash out on new spark plugs, leads and a distributor car. Throw in a new rotor arm as well, in fact, why not plump for an electronic distributor and eliminate a few moving parts in the process?
If your car hasn’t had the pleasure of a new battery in recent years, invest in an up-to-date high powered version for easier starting and if the charging system is still under the charge of a puny dynamo, a good idea would be to upgrade to alternator charging.
Alternators can now be had bearing a reasonable resemblance to original dynamos, so the upgrade can take place without resorting to spoiling the period look of the engine bay.
So, your car now starts easily, but life inside will be miserable without saloon heat. Air cooled machines rely on heat exchangers and ducting generally made from low grade mild steel and this can rapidly rust and fail. Stainless versions may be available.
Bunged up radiators and heater matrixes can bring the combined misery of an overheating car which is freezing inside. Flushing the cooling system is a must if it hasn’t been done for some time. Also, it’s worth thinking about radiator and heater core upgrades.
Water-cooled classics need a good quality winter coolant mix. Many motor factors will check the specific gravity of a car’s coolant free of charge. This quick test can help to avoid the worst effects of sudden temperature drops, but it’s useless if coolant hoses are in poor condition.
Natural rubber items on cars last for only around 5 years, but silicon versions manufactured to resemble original equipment are available and should last for at least double that amount of time. Talking of rubber, there’s nothing worse than ineffective wiper blades, so if they’re old or showing signs of splitting, get a new set and enjoy the benefits of clear forward vision.
Right then, the car starts easily and is warm and snug, but all the effort has been for nothing if it’s not rolling on a decent set of tyres. Opt for correct period reproductions, but don’t be beguiled by sets of cheap used tyres. It’s that rubber maxim again – over 5 years of age and they’re past it.