Monday, January 25, 2016

Hard to beat an old Beetle for handling in snow

Last weekend's East Coast blizzard reminded me that the best snow car I ever owned was also my first car - a Fontana Gray 1965 VW Beetle (seen here outside the mobile home I rented while working my first newspaper job at The Tipton (Ind.) Tribune in the winter of 1966-67.

With its rear engine and narrow tires (read small contact patch), that car could go practically anywhere in snow and ice. I bought it on Aug. 1, 1966 at University Motors in West Lafayette, where it had been a demonstrator and frequently used by the wife of the dealer. Diane and I took it on an extensive road trip through Canada in 1968. I finally sold it in the early 1970s with more than 100,000 miles on the odometer. That was a lot of miles for a car of that era, although it doesn't seem all that impressive by today's standards.

Conversely, the worst snow car I ever owned was my 1994 Honda del Sol with its fat tires and giant contact patches that turned into skis on slick pavement.

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