Monday, November 16, 2015




Here we go again. But winter driving need not be a nightmarish sentence to a frozen automotive purgatory. With a clean-sheet-of-paper approach, surfing the snowdrifts can equal summertime grins, and then some.

Tis the season. Again. Traditionally, the road to snowpacked road trip high-jinks is covered with beaters. Commuting is so much more enjoyable while crashing into guardrails in a car possessing the disposability of a Bic lighter. Talk about your carefree motoring. Beaters are mobile vacations - when they're actually mobile, anyway. Maybe the answer is to get completely off of four wheels, and approach the slippery stuff from a different angle. That's what the experts at recommend.

(Images courtesy of

With the proper vehicle, you can avoid the roadways altogether, and beat your co-workers to the break-room donuts.

If you must commute via automobile, at least ensure that your ride is equipped for the current conditions.

As addressed here last week, there will always be a hardcore element, hellbent on making everyone else feel inadequate. This example at Minnesota Dragways is from the immanent Cartech release, Lost Drag Strips II. Pre-orders now available at (Photo courtesy of John Foster Jr. collection)




The indisputable best approach to enduring winter is hibernation (see above Polar Bear facts). My personal hibernation preference is in the shop, but barricading in any heated shelter can be rewarding. For example, while rifling through a room of cardboard boxes in search of an obscure photo last week, I came across something even more rare than my targeted prey - the first photos ever taken of my Model A project, from its infancy in 1997. The camera was a second-hand Kodak Instamatic, and the photographer was a ham-fisted know-nothing, but discovering these crappy images sure made me smile.

In the beginning, there was a $15 open touring car back-half of (still) undetermined origin, complete with rear doors from yet another mystery car. After saving up another fifteen smackeroos, I purchased this closed '31 Briggs Body cowl from fab pal Sherm Parker. My brother Mark helped me drag the booty home, and even stored it for me for a while.

When Pappy Gosson passed on, I inherited some leftovers from his '40 Ford pickup project, including front and rear axles, wishbones, and a set of bent '35 Ford wire wheels. Yet another $15 got me a stainless '30/'31 radiator shell at a swap meet. I was on a $15 roll, and now had enough treasure for a casual mock-up of my vision in the Grants Pass, Oregon garage shared with my hot rod Morris Minor (black fender in foreground).

Inspired, I chopped the A-pillars and radiator shell, and shortened a pair of $15 hood sides. What a rush to finally realize the vision in 3-D! 

A few weeks later, things were literally falling into place. My primered daily driver Pinto wagon (background) inspired the 2.3 Ford drivetrain concept. Seeing these images again was a surreal experience, so many years after the fact. (Scotty shots)

Still dreaming of Model A adventures, nearly two decades later. You wouldn't know it from this photo (at Dr. Lockjaw's Custom Metal shop), but the project is progressing - at the pace of a lame Pinto. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Lockjaw)



If you retain anything from this post, let it be this: Heated shelter is key to winter survival. This baby Canadian squirrel knows it, and now so do you. Good luck finding a cozy set-up as sweet as this scene.

While troubleshooting a pesky cooling problem in my daily driver last week, I received professional guidance from Bob LeBel at HR Automotive in Medford, Oregon. Bob's been wrenching exclusively on Hondas for over 30 years, so he knows his stuff. He's also a great guy, and is fun to hang with. The Mac rollaway contains the lions share of Bob's trickery. Its cannot-tell-a-lie leakdown tester confirmed my most dire suspicion: Blown head gasket. But now I know for certain. Thanks, Bob! (Scotty cellphone shot)

It's Barney, the greeter at HR Automotive. Bob's Great Dane puppy is only a few months old, yet his head is chest-high to me. The flattened squirrel behind him is Barney's favorite toy. I like this guy. When not chained to a Honda engine (background), Barney enjoys long runs on Bob's rural acreage. A confirmed bachelor, Barney spends his free time eating Honda tech manuals. Sorry gals! (Scotty cellphone shot)


Some days we get snow, and some days we get snowed.