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Would I be insane to drive in the winter?

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  • Would I be insane to drive in the winter?

    I am thinking about using my 1955 Champion year around in Iowa.
    Traction: will a good set of snow tires do the trick?
    Heat: will I freeze?
    Anything else I need to think of?

    Thank you,
    Darryl Dodd LMT, Neural Reset Practitioner
    Essential Transformations LLC

  • #2
    I assume that you live in the road salt part of Iowa. So, unless this is a parts car that you are using up before pulling the drivetrain I would not recommend it for multiple corrosion reasons. As far as heat goes, my 54 champion with underseat heater produces enough heat to make the car comfortable inside with outside temps in the low 40's. Temps in the 30's or below, not so much.
    54 Champion coupe
    48 Champion Convert


    • #3
      We did it in a Studebaker....but I wouldn't do it today....try it....and I think you will agree.
      Lou Van Anne
      62 Champ
      64 R2 GT Hawk
      79 Avanti II


      • #4
        Here's how I look at it. Everybody else in a modern car has anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control and all sorts of things to make a poor driver into a mediocre one. The end result of that is that all of the traffic will be driving faster, turning sharper, decelerating more quickly than you can. That can get you in trouble quickly.

        My opinion is that you would not be safe in a 62 year old car in severe weather - snow and ice. For another thing, the windshield defrosters are probably terrible.

        And that's not even mentioning sacrificing a car to the salt demon.
        RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

        17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
        10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
        10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
        4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
        5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
        56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
        60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible


        • #5
          Well...I see you are into "essential transformations," ... but drive that Studebaker (or any other 1955 vehicle) down a salt laden snowy road, and you will witness true "ELEMENTAL TRANSFORMATION!" (It ain't pretty)

          Once the underside of the frame & body experience the "power of touch" from all the chemical oxides resulting from the witches brew of road waste, water & day, you will go to your driveway and sit on the ground... where your car dissolved into it.

          Seriously, save the Studebaker for FUN driving. Find a beater PT Cruiser, Prius, or Smart Car for winter driving. There are tons of "beater class" cars available for the purpose. Like the "sacrificial diode" on a saltwater outboard motor...beater cars are what preserve "FUN" cars for "Fun Driving."
          John Clary
          Greer, SC

          SDC member since 1975


          • #6
            Yes, you would be insane to drive your Studebaker in the winter.
            64 Avanti R1 R5529


            • #7
              Short answer to the OP question: Yes.


              • #8
                I've driven clunkers & parts' cars many times in winter up til a few years ago. Don't expect great climate control-likely with poor door seals. Snow tires and back roads work "IF" you have them for fun. If commuting anywhere near "real" cars/traffic.... use alternate vehicle.


                • #9
                  Plus if your car has vacuum wipers, they really suck.
                  Dan Peterson
                  Montpelier, VT
                  1960 Lark V-8 Convertible
                  1960 Lark V-8 Convertible (parts car)


                  • #10
                    I see you are in a small town and traffic should not be too bad. The salt would be the main concern. I drove in very cold weather in South Dakota in my 62 IHC Scout, but they did not use salt, only sand. The Scout was a tin box with no insulation and a small heater that would never get warm on short trips even though 2/3s of the radiator was blocked off. If you don't mind wearing your heavy clothes when driving, it can be done.
                    BTW The Scout never failed to start even when I forgot to plug in the block heater.
                    "In the heart of Arkansas."
                    Searcy, Arkansas
                    1952 Commander 2 door. Really fine 259.
                    1952 2R pickup


                    • #11
                      I do. I even drove my Champ truck in a blinding surprise snow storm last November. It took me 7 hours to get home from work. I am no longer intimidated by bad weather in my Studebakers. They do just fine.
                      Ed Sallia
                      Dundee, OR

                      Sol Lucet Omnibus


                      • #12
                        In 1955 even people from Iowa didn't drive in the snow....Unless they had to...
                        HTIH (Hope The Info Helps)


                        Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. Mark Twain

                        Note: SDC# 070190 (and earlier...)


                        • #13
                          I drove my 59 Lark in Iowa winters for 6 years thru high school and some college. I lived out on the farm and I was in NW Iowa, so there was more snow than you get there, and the temps were definitely colder! You start the car ahead of time, and let it idle to warm up the engine and get the automatic choke to readjust. If you have a manual choke, you need to know how to use it. Where I lived, once it got cold, it STAYED cold, and the salt had less effect. Where you live, the temp swings up and down above and below freezing. THAT's what will cause the salts to eat your car.

                          Was it WARM inside the car? NO. Was I going to freeze to death? NO. I ALWAYS wore the proper gear or the weather. Heavy coat, gloves, stocking cap, long underwear, heavy socks, and boots whenever possible.

                          The biggest problem you will have is the defroster. The fan on these is weak to say the least. If you can change out the fan and wheel, make it run smooth and faster, you MAY get it to clear the window. I typically ran with the wing windows open in order to draw air from the defroster vents across the windshield and out the wing vents. The "heat' was more for the windshield than the occupants. Forget about being able to see out the rear window until you've driven at LEAST 30 miles.

                          Breathe slow and shallow. This keeps the moisture down inside the car.

                          Driving with the windows down keeps them clear, but makes it a bit cooler.

                          Use RainX on the all the glass, including the mirrors to make it easier to scrape the glass and particularly the mirrors.

                          Either take the car out in late October and find a MUDDY road and drive up and down it to pack mud in the fenders and undercarriage, then don't wash it until April, or wash it once a week or every time you drive it.

                          I used 7.50-15 Mud and Snow truck tires on the rear of my Lark. I got around just fine. Yes, it's light in the rear compared to the heavy V8 sitting in the front. I frequently went up a hill in reverse, just because it made it easier to drag the weight up the hill than to try to push it and slide sideways off the road. Learn to use your mirrors. A Twin Traction rear axle would make it easier to get around.

                          With frequent driving in the winter, you will be MUCH more prone to discover the "Studebaker Stripe" on the front fenders and rocker panels.

                          Good Luck! Do what makes you happy with YOUR car. Others have done it. That's how it was done from the time cars were used. They drove them. Oh, and make sure your brakes are very well adjusted because they lock up a lot easier on snow and ice.

                          If you have a 3 speed, you may consider starting in 2nd gear. It can help reduce wheel spin.
                          Dis-Use on a Car is Worse Than Mis-Use...
                          1959 Studebaker Lark VIII 2DHTP


                          • #14
                            Even with TT, the V8 cars were no good in the snow...worse if you had a pickup. Key: 200 lbs in the trunk


                            • #15
                              I took my Studebakers out of regular winter service, during the 70's, because of all of the above reasons. I doubt that I have ever made a better choice. Can you do it, yes. Should you do it, no! Unless you are into self abuse, and abuse to your collectable, a one year of trial should cure you of this folly.