30 Nov 2013

Speedmonkey Fleet - Winter In A Rear Wheel Drive Car

This is my first fleet update in a while.  I've been running press cars for most of October and November so haven't used my own cars much.

Porsche 924S

But now I don't have any booked until just after Christmas, when a Range Rover SDV8 arrives, followed by a Subaru Outback and various others, so December will largely have to be tackled with my two, rear wheel drive cars.

And have I prepared for it?  Erm…no.

The BMW 323i SE Touring was bought for use as a dog wagon, and shall remain so.  I don't use it for long trips and am not bothered if it cannot be moved.  As a last resort I can transport the dogs and other large loads in my wife's Land Rover Discovery TD5.

Talking of which my wife was ill recently (Vertigo - not much fun) so I made a few trips to see her horse.  The horse is in a field at the end of a long muddy lane, which she walks every day.

Being a chap I decided not to walk and took the Discovery down the lane.  Any normal car, even a so-called SUV such as a Honda CRV or Nissan X-Trail, would have floundered.  

The farmer takes his tractor down the lane to empty a massive bucket full of horse shit every now and again.  The tractor cuts huge ruts in the mud which turn into massive oomska filled puddles.  

But the Land Rover handles it with consummate ease.  The lane is on a hill so you have to gently steer against the hill to go in a straight line.  It's great fun but not for the faint hearted.

And so to the winter's day to day transport - my Porsche 924S.

Yes, it's a lightweight, rear wheel drive sportscar that's 27 years old.  No, it has none of the comforts I've been used to in various press cars.  No heated seats, no demisting windscreen, no self opening and closing boot, no cupholders, no satnav, not much in the way of lighting.

But it does have the lightest of touch.  Steering and throttle are the most controllable of any car I've ever driven.  And its heater churns out devilishly hot air within a minute or so of starting up - whereas modern car's heaters take an absolute age to get going.

The boot is huge so can accommodate wellies and coats.

Also, it's mine and only cost £1300 so I can afford for it to be abused by salt and muck during the winter months.  And I can jump in and out in muddy boots and wet clothes without worrying about the mess.

But it does suffer one overarching problem.  Condensation.

Presumably this is due to moisture derived from wet clothing and human breath (there are no leaks) but on a frosty morning the inside and outside of the windows are frozen.  I have to scrape the ice from the inside of the windscreen.

I hope to have solved this by the use of the bag you see in the photo below.  It's a giant sack of absorbent balls which promises to soak up all the moisture that would otherwise make its way to the windows.
Porsche 924S

Winter tyres is a hot topic at the moment.  The Porsche is fitted with standard 195/65 R 15 Continentals on its cookie cutters.  A set of winters would cost £280, minimum.  With Christmas approaching I might have to pass on those and put up with my normal tyres.

Which is fine because in any conditions other than snow the Porsche handles superbly.  If it snows I'll have to use the Discovery.

Finally, I took the Triumph Street Triple out for a bimble last week.  I had to be at a meeting in central London and the thought of taking the train filled me with dread.

Happily the morn of the meeting turned out not to be too cold.  The bike was a joy to use after months of laying idle.  I cut through the London traffic like an Italian in an English queue, and like that proverbial Italian jumped to the front of every line of queuing traffic only to razz of to the next set of traffic lights. 

I returned home happy and filthy - covered in 110 miles worth of that muddy drizzle that car tyres kick up.  Had I taken the train and tube I would have been miserable and permeated to the skin with London grime.

Til the next time my monkeys of speed.  Happy winter driving.  Stay safe and enjoy the roads.

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Porsche 924S

By Matt Hubbard