Living with a Sports Car, Winter, Canada and No Parking Spot
Because driving a grey boring Toyota Accord sucks ass, join my crusade of daily driving "impossible cars" at all time, even in Montreal... in winter
When I was living in Montreal, back in 2013, my beloved Mustang got rammed over by a Golf that did not see the bright red light that was in front of him. I had to replace it, but what would do the trick? What could be fun, reliable, fast, RWD and somewhat cheap? A Corvette seemed like a good solution but... I lived in Quebec and I had to deal with roughly 15 to 20 feet of snow every winter. Would it be doable?
As the first snow falls arrive, I'll try to get over the few things that allowed me to live with what people consider as one of the worst cars for winter driving in snowy regions: A '95 LT1 Corvette.
I bought it soon after winter 2013 ended and played around with it all summer. 9500$ (canadians). Manual gearbox (of course), rebuilt everything, new paint, targa top and lots of mileage for such a car (160.000miles). Perfect! But winter 2014 was on its way already and I had to get the car ready.
1: Remove the front spoiler that would transform the whole car into a snow-plow way too fast. Once it's done, I notice that the car is not much lower than a basic Kia. First sign of relief for me, as I now had at least 6 or 7 inches of clearance
2: Find the appropriate tires! The most important step! And finding some winter tires for car with 295s in the back and 265s in the front is NOT easy. I had the choice with two models: Nokian WR tires, that used to be fitted on Porsches and Pirellis Sottozeros that are now fitted on Porsches. Pirellis ended up being my choice and I'll probably try Nokian next winter. They are both "M/S" (Mud and Snow) tires, and therefore not as good as normal winter tires, but that's the only thing that fits so it will have to work! They are still rated as "winter tires" (with the little mountain and the snowflake) and therefore are legal in Québec where it's the law to have snow tires in winter.
3: The Lt1 C4 has a 50/50 weight distribution. Great in the dry, BAD in winter. It means you end up with a 4 wheels understeer when in the snow and you just don't want that. So let's go to Canadian Tire and pack the trunk with salt bags! 80kg or rougly 180lbs of them for you americans. That should do the trick
4: "Accessories" now. Shovel. The most important thing you can have in your trunk. To get out of a parking spot or at worse, getting unstucked from the pile of snow you crashed into. Traction aid. You know this plastic or metal thing you put in front of your motorized wheels to get some traction on ice? Get some.
There it was, I was ready for winter, keeping my fingers crossed as all my friends were laughing at me, seeing an awful winter arriving for me in their crystal balls.
Early december, the first snowstorm arrived. I had to film it and with the help of a friend that's what I did. 10 inches of snow during the night from saturday to sunday. Sunday morning would be awfully quiet in the streets of Montreal, it was the perfect time to try if I could acutally deal with winter in the Corvette. If I could drive in these conditions, all winter would be fine. Here are the results!
A few more things to conclude: Dealing with a sports car in some of the worst winters is doable if you live in a city that is somewhat good at dealing with the snow. If you have to deal with more than 5 inches of snow on the road, stay home. M/S tires are not as good as normal snow tires and you will struggle like crazy. If you live in the middle of nowhere, I would not recommend it either. Also choose your car wisely. Salt kills cars. I chose a Corvette because the body is made of fiberglass, but I still have to clean up the chassis regulary. I do it twice a month on average. So the car looks dirty as hell sometimes but I do my best ot avoid rust. Cars from the early 80s are not very well galvanized so I would not recommend these also. Porsches are great in winter too, but the first galvanized models appeared in 1976 and they were not very good at it until mid-80's, so avoid early Porsches too...
So please, come and join me in my crusade against boring grey and black japanese cars that are all over the road 5 months a years and give a little smile to people who see you driving off to work in the morning! Sports cars in winter do make people smile and just for that, you should drive yours all year long ;)