Is it cruel to drive your vintage car in winter?


Winter is already descending on much of the country. Many owners are focused on getting their collectible cars tucked safely away for the season, but perhaps that raises a question—why not drive your classic year round?

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2017/12/22/driving-your-vintage-car-in-winter


After spending money to by a California car and ship it to the Midwest, it would be foolish to drive it in winter.


To me, this all depends on the existing condition the car is already in. If it’s a runner, and you love driving it, and the roads are clear and traffic is light, go with the rust-proofing and frequent cleaning. If it’s a much better condition car, don’t take the risk, perhaps.


I feel that unless it’s a car you have spent untold thousands on to restore and you really enjoy driving it, then the winter should not be a problem. I have an old Studebaker and I drive it all the time. Right now I’m replacing the clutch, but when it’s done I’ll be back out driving in the Pennsylvania winter.


On a sunny dry day here in Alabama I’ll drive it, not a problem. You can do that down here


I’m in northwestern New York, not a place to drive a rear wheel drive classic confidently. As far as bad winter areas,I guess if your car is a something you’re going to move on from in the near future, I can see where people would enjoy driving them year round. If it’s a long term keeper, your years will be numbered driving it in the snow and salt.


I don’t even like driving my Jeep in the winter, one of my nice cars? No way!


If you have the right mindset about it and understand that eventually there will be some sort of degradation… then its a not issue… I personally have many mopars… I chose a slant 6 79 volare for my daily driver for 20 plus years. Its not the kind of car that is going to be on the auction circuit anytime soon, and there were 10’s of thousands of them produced so they are not rare or valuable.

It got me through salty Pittsburgh PA winters in high school, college and beyond. Winter tires with a sure grip/posi rear end are required. Studded tires can help too.

At the time parts cars were cheap and plentiful. If I wanted to keep the car nice i would not have driven it in the snow and salt. Spraying the underside with oil helps slow rust and rot but does not stop it completely. Additionally a stainless exhaust is a nice upgrade for the winter conditions too. I always tried to run smaller 195 or 185 width tires in the snow as they tend to ‘’“dig” down to the road surface on an older RWD car. Less surface area of the tire to float on the surface of the snow.


Now that my zip code starts with 3, I don’t worry about it anymore.


My husband and I have a '73 AMC Javelin which is in really nice shape. My dad was an AMC dealer and “let” my mom order this car as she wanted so…NO!!! We would NEVER drive this car after the first snow when the crap has been put on the roads nor will we drive it in the spring until the roads have been cleared by rain.

Before we got the Javelin back 10yrs ago from the original owners estate we had a '68 AMX for over 35yrs. After it got some age on it and we realized we weren’t going to sell it we followed the same rules as above.

You know it really simply depends on your own feelings for your car and your circumstances.

Happy New Year everyone!!!


I have a classic car which I enjoy very much. If the roads are dry with no threat of rain or snow, I’ll take it out for a spin year round.


In Michigan? Never! Salt = Death


I am in Pasadena, California. What is this “Winter” of which you speak?

Seriously, my first several cars (which would ALL be collectibles now!) were bought when I lived in Anchorage, AK. Yes, winter is a serious thing there, but they do not salt the roads – sand or ash is the general item spread after the snow-plow goes through – and while this makes for a big mess come spring thaw, it washes off okay. All of my cars were simply “used” back then – the Fiat 500, Mk 1 Mini, Hillman Husky etcetera – but if I were still there and had any of them I would gladly drive them in the dead of winter, because every one of them was so good at dealing with the cold weather and slippery stuff, especially that Fiat! And that, for me, is what a car is all about.


Our 96 SVT Cobra was never driven in the rain & kept in a heated garage by the first owner. Since we acquired it we followed his lead, except for the heat in the garage. The underside is like new with all factory markings intact. Therefore at the first sign of road salt the car is in the garage covered until the rains of spring wash the roads clean. The fact it’s black also keeps it there. PA is notorious for the heavy use of road salt.


I live in Switzerland in the mountains and own some twenty vintage cars and do drive two of them in winter time as well. These are:
-1975 Saab 96
-1980 Porsche 928S
As Youngtimer I have in winter use a 1992 Subaru SVX (4x4)
All these cars are fitted with winter tires. As I do not change them, I leave these cars in the garage during summer time.


I live in the Midwest so no I don’t drive any classic or older cars I own. I don’t like driving in the snow with a modern vehicle let alone a classic. They do use salt here too, I remember as a kid new cars would be rusting after only a couple of years on the road. I guess that’s why rust proofing was a pretty popular thing at the time especially on new cars. My dad had his new 71 Ford station wagon Ziebarted which seemed to work pretty well. I had my first new car a 79 Datsun 280ZX with Rusty Jones rustproofing applied at the dealer and it started rusting at one of the holes they drilled in the door jambs to inject it. I assume from chipped paint that the plastic plugs they used covered it up. To the people that do drive their classics year round, I think that’s pretty cool especially in the colder climates. I mean they are just cars right, lol.


I live in North Western Pennsylvania, in an area where the road crew only spreads ash and sand on the roads in winter, no salty chemicals.
I have a 1925 Franklin Sedan, in original condition, and it came from upstate NY, where I’m sure it was driven in plenty of snow in it’s younger days… I will put the chains (Found them under the seat when I got the car) an go out for a drive to visit friends or go to the post office in the village. Being an air cooled engine, with a great heater system, it is toasty warm and fun to take it out for a little “exercise” when the white fluffy stuff is on the ground.
I keep the car ready to go all year, but driving in snow is only done as a “treat” from time to time.
If I could figure out how to attach a photo to this reply, I would include it… :wink:


I own a 1942 Chevy 3/4 ton, factory made, pickup truck (BL). Here in NJ, they use salt and brine on our roads, whenever there is so much as a hint of ice or snow in the forecast. It is applied in such massive amounts, that I’ve always thought there had to be some mob connection with the state’s suppliers (this is NJ). That excessive use of salt/brine is the primary reason that I will not drive my truck when any amount of salt is on the roads. I also will not drive my truck in winter, unless or until there has been a significant rain, that flushes all the salt & brine from the roads. Some friends say, “it’s a truck, drive it”. However, they are usually not aware that Chevy only produced 140 of the 3/4 ton factory made pickup trucks in 1942. The rest of the 8K plus production was cab/chassis versions of the 3/4 ton truck. I will drive the truck in winter. But, only when the roads are completely clear of salt, and the weather is clear and dry.


For several years, I have taken a few of my cars out a single occasion to participate in a New Year’s Eve “First Night” parade here in Boston, and even with that single journey, each of these cars has experienced significant deterioration once the sand, salt and debris got into the seams and crevices.
This occurred despite a post trip warm bath of clear and soapy water to wash away all of that debris and on a seperate year, I even tried a pressure washing the undercarriage, which only served to push the salt deeper into the crevices.
One car developed paint blisters where the salt corroded the finish, and several others actually developed significant rust deterioration in the rocker panels and wheel arches after a single exposure on a particularly salty winter night.
I would not take that risk again, although here in Massachusetts, the salt use is pretty bad compared to some other states.


I also beleive that we are only custodians of these vehicles for someone else to enjoy long after we are gone, and it is really sad and irresponsible to allow this type of deterioration to a vehicle which has been preserved so well for more than half a century.