Following up my SAAB 900/Jeep Wagoneer COAL capsule, I seek your advice. I live in Michigan’s Keweenaw, a peninsula which juts into Lake Superior. We get over 200 inches of snow per year, and the road commission is not afraid to use copious amounts of salt. Rusty cars are a way of life here.
I normally use the SAAB as a winter daily driver. When I bought it, it was completely rust free. I am religious about washing and fluid-filming, but I am convinced any vehicle driven here will rust quicker than if it were in any other geographic area, except perhaps under water in the Dead Sea. After 5 winters, there is some surface rust on the undercarriage and engine compartment, and I had a body shop grind out some rust under a wheel arch molding.
The SAAB is truly unstoppable with a good set of winter tires (I use Nokians, Finnish tires for a Sweedish car). The town in which I live is set in a deep valley, and we have some seriously steep hills. Combining the long travel suspension, ground clearance, front weight bias, narrow tires, and whatever black magic SAAB engineers baked into the car, The SAAB does a great Tenzing Norgay impression. I keep a tow strap and come-along handy, and have rescued my fair share of cars, trucks, and vans buried in drifts. Karma and all that.
This is the first winter I have owned the Jeep. It has been restored, and is completely rust free. I imagine with a good set of winter tires, I would be pretty killer in the snow. When I bought it, I didn’t intend on driving it in the winter. I am afraid if I pull it out, it will turn a pile of iron oxide. I know these rigs have a predilection toward early and profuse rustage. I doubt the body is galvanized.
But, I keep looking upon it, parked in the garage, and it is calling out, saying “life is short, drive me; I was made for the snow, made to be driven”. I could die tomorrow, and then who cares if the Jeep is still pristine. On the other hand, if I preserve it, I will have a nice classy summer driver for the rest of my life (I am 29), or however long fossil fuels are available.
I must confess, I have never been very good with the concept of delayed gratification. What would you do?