Silvio Calabi: Too much winter!
This is a little embarrassing, but for the second time in three years the New England Motor Press Association’s Winter Vehicle Test Day had to be postponed on account of, well, winter.
Each year the group puts its collective heads together and pools a couple centuries’ worth of snow-driving experience to come up with the official Winter Vehicle of New England. There are also a dozen or so class winners, divided up by price and type — SUV, sedan, luxury car, sports car, pickup truck and so on. (The Jeep Grand Cherokee has won the overall title for the past two years.)
Car manufacturers love awards, so around the holidays every year they begin to send us everything they’ve got with all-wheel drive and heated steering wheels. Those vehicles get put through their paces a week at a time by the membership — people like me — and then in February we gather at our delivery garage, south of Boston, for a day-long powwow. We eat, talk, dash out into the cold in twos and threes to drive one car or another, come back, eat, argue, and eat. And finally begin to cast our ballots.
In 2011, as I mentioned, we had to postpone this event because too much winter fell from the sky the night before. Automotive News, AutoWeek and other publications showed us no mercy. The word “wuss” was never used, but there was a clear undertone of Hey-we-thought-you-Yankees-could-drive-in-the-snow.
And now it’s happened again. What’s worse, two days before Winter Storm Nemo blew in (when did snowstorms start getting names?), a sternly worded memo was sent to the membership, cautioning us that this would not happen again.
“Road crews will be out all Friday night,” the memo concluded, “and Saturday-morning traffic is likely to be light. Press on! What better test of a ‘winter vehicle’ is there, after all?”
Press on, indeed. Twenty-four hours later another directive had to go out: “OK, the weather forecast has worsened, the testosterone has subsided and reason has prevailed. Despite yesterday’s huffing & puffing, Winter Vehicle Test Day has indeed been postponed until next Saturday, February 16.”
Someone suggested we just give the big trophy to whoever made it to the garage on Saturday morning, but since one member lives just down the street and another lives 250 miles away on the coast of Maine, the handicapping isn’t quite equal.
So this column does not focus on a particular vehicle because the car in my driveway has already been written up and a fresh one was, shall we say, out of reach. For 48 hours I couldn’t get out of my driveway, much less to Boston.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed for next Saturday.
Silvio Calabi reviews the latest from Detroit, Munich, Yokohama, Gothenburg, Crewe, Seoul and wherever else interesting cars are born. Silvio is a member of the International Motor Press Association whose automotive reviews date back to the Reagan administration. He is the former publisher of Speedway Illustrated magazine and an author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.