First Drive On The Snow

First Drive On The Snow

Having ridden bikes in the snow for the last ten years, and not having had any reason to take the car out in recent snows, I decided to make one up!

So, in order to do lots of ‘essential’ Christmas food/booze shopping, and with more heavy snow forecast overnight, I got to see what all the fuss and panic was about.

My garage is on a steep hill up a dirt track.  I figured I could probably get down the hill, but doubted I’d ever get back up.  So I dug out the garage door and went for it.

I was suprised by how much resistence deep snow offered to a car.  Reversing down the hill, where I expected it to roll back through it, I found I had to give it a bit of gas.  Other than that it was stable and did nothing silly.  I turned around at the bottom, engaged first gear, took a deep breath, and turned out onto the road…

And drove.  Nothing else happened.

I drove slower than normal, but to be honest didn’t really have to.  I did put into practice the theory of downshifting and using careful engine braking rather than touching the brakes wherever possible, and there were no dramas.  I was able to pull away with no wheelspin, and turn through corners without falling into hedges or running any kittens over.  Unlike everyone else, I kept a good gap to the car in front (notice to the ihabitatnts of the seal farm that is Bromsgrove: this does NOT mean 6″ away).

So I decided to provoke it.

From second gear I floored it and was chuffed to hear it spin up like a good ‘un!

You have to bear in mind I can’t condone this, but at the same time understand that the last time I drove it was to a skid control course.  I knew what to expect, and the little Fiat seems to have very predictable understeer, but with nice balance to it.

Locking the brakes made it slide straight on with slight squiggles if provoked further.  And it seemed to drift ok, too!

It’s quite amazing what you can do in a car and stay in control.  That much lack of traction on a bike would equal lots of airtime, groundtime and abulancetime.  I wasn’t anywhere near pushing it, and don’t intend to on the roads.

In short, it was exactly what I needed, and allowed me to safely explore the limits of the car at slow speeds and on some empty roads.

Oh, and my 1 litre snorting Italian beast on its skinny tyres also seemed to be one of the fastest accelerating cars on the roads for once!

The fun ended when I found there was no way in Hell the Fiat was going back up that hill to the garage, though… Ah well!

Snow driving is snow- oops I mean IS NO trouble at all – providing you just leave yourself a load of space to do it safely!  Look and plan well ahead, and it’s a lot of fun!

Keep it safe out there you kids – and if you haven’t already GET SOME BLOODY ADVANCED DRIVER TRAINING!  It will give you the confidence to laugh at all the other muppets out there!

There’s also a video of some in-car action and ranting.


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