I made a questionable decision yesterday morning. My wife and second daughter Kathryn both had dentist appointments in Eastport, a 15 mile drive approximately. The previous day had seen a very wet and nasty snowstorm, which had knocked out power for hours, and left things a slushy mess. The driving conditions on the main road were decent, but the application of salt is a nasty thing for cars. So, it might give some people a heart attack to hear that I took my 1956 Ford Fairlane out into such a mess.
Yes, it was a questionable decision, and there are reasons to question it. To bathe such a nice old car in an evil salt bath is something you wouldn't want to have happen to your flashy show car, though as I've said before, this Fairlane is hardly a prize-winner. It is a nice, old driver with numerous cosmetic flaws, though it's mechanically solid. Still, driving in winter weather in Maine isn't something to do often with any real car. The modern mechanical boxes they call cars these days are not "real" by my definition.
The decision before me was multi-faceted. I had 4 people to transport (Jenna, Kathryn, Lois, and myself). The Ford Ranger pickup I have will hold that many, though it is a tight fit, and the thing has poor traction on snow and ice. Rather than risk hitting something slick with the modern piece of junk truck, I decided to venture out in the rugged Fairlane, which has very good traction. On the way down to the dentist, I ran into a few places where ice lurked on the road, but the car hardly noticed. It doesn't even have snow tires, and it handles better than your average half ton pickup on snow and ice. I can only imagine what a '56 Fairlane with 4-wheel drive could do—alas, they never made them in 4WD. But, as I said, the two wheel drive version works nicely.
The Fairlane made its masterful voyage through the evil road sludge without incident, and assured that everyone got home alive. The temperature was above freezing when I got back, so a quick hosing helped to eliminate the wicked salt. Special attention must be paid to the underside whenever washing the car, and it would be nice to have a proper car steam-cleaning unit. That must go onto the "if the West of the Warlock tv series is ever made and I make a million bucks, I'll buy it" list.
I don't believe the short term exposure will cause too much damage to the Fairlane. I've said it before and I'll say it again: It isn't a show car! Yes, if I wanted to pour $10,000 into it, then it could very well be such a vehicle, but then I'd never be able to drive it, for fear of damaging perfection. The Fairlane is the best thing I've ever driven, and I'd much rather be able to get around in style, rather than hoard a trophy-catcher in an air-conditioned garage. I'm sure even Jerry Seinfeld has a few "imperfect" models to beat around in for fun.