Winter Tiger

August 19, 2006

in Rootes Review, Tigers

From Rootes Review: Vol. 3, #7, December 1978

Those of us who live in the northern areas of the country, where it snows near the end/beginning of the year, are often the recipients of an assortment of sneers, chides and various other unfriendly aspersions, cast by those who reside in warmer climates. The southern latitudes permit the driving of “prides-and-joys” twelve months a year, and I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing about it! I have had my Tiger for the last eight years and I drive it–all year round, New England winters not withstanding. In fact, the winter driving season provides me with some of the most enjoyable driving experiences of all.

You cannot seriously drive your car in the ice and snow without a few precautions. Once they are made, however, you will have no trouble picturing yourself powering through a four-wheel drift, tail out and white rooster-tail of snow and slush following you as the white landscape flies past in a cotton blurr.

Probably the first thing that you will want to do is to replace your regular tires with snow tires on all four corners. Snows on the front aid in steering and stopping–two things that will come in handy as soon as you begin to raise your speed above what is commonly considered “prudent” or “acceptable”. I have found that running tires one or two sizes smaller on the rear will accomplish two things. First, they will change the gearing to give slightly quicker acceleration (at the expense of top speed–which, in six inches of snow, is not a primary consideration, anyway!). Secondly, they allow the use of chains for heavy snow and icy conditions. If you are running offset wheels and don’t have huge flairs, there is often some impromptu body work when the chains first make contact with the fender lips, so the smaller diameter tires are a definite plus.

Being a purist, I have always preferred to drive sans top. After all, the Tiger WAS designed as a roadster! I do strongly suggest that you use a tonneau cover that snaps along the windshield if you are not carrying a passenger. Thay way, when you make a hard left turn and hang the rear end out, the snow and slush thrown up by the right front wheel will not fill the cockpit.

Being that the Tiger is a fairly light car, I have also adapted a system of ballast which aids in handling. By removing the bumpers and bolting a piece of 4-inch square steel bar stock (approximately four feet long) to each end, the extra weight (in the neighborhood of 2$0 pounds each) at the extreme ends of the car acts to keep the shock absorbers from rebounding while also bringing more sprung weight to bear on the tires. The effect also lowers the center of gravity, which helps in the handling department.

Finally, the type of clothing that you choose can increase or decrease your level of enjoyment. I suggest a warm, down-filled parka with a hood. Rubber boots tend to slip off of the foot pedals and sneakers permit your feet to get cold quickly, so a leather shoe is a happy medium. Stay away from goggles (they fog up quickly), mittens (difficult to get a good firm grip on the steering wheel or gearshift lever) and long scarves (no matter how sporty they look, there is always the danger of catching the end of your left rear knockoff; now, there’s a frightening experience!).

And that’s all there is to it. Now, get out there and DRIVE ‘EM! And don’t be afraid of a little snow.

BEN DOVER
(Editor’s note: the preceeding article came to us from Rick Kopec of Shelby American. He claims to have some photos that were too out of focus to reproduce and informs us that there is a Benjamin Dover in New England. Beyond that–well, you’re on your own on this one.
Sharon)