Question: half a foot of snow falls on New York City. My car is an air-cooled Baja Bug. Can I drive my car even when the engine is covered in powder? Answer: yes. Very much yes.

Just when I'm thinking winter is over, temperatures drop into the single digits and about half a foot of snow drops on NYC. The snow's stopped falling by about 10:30 at night and I sit up from my computer, put my canvas shoes and peacoat on and say to myself,


"It's a balmy 12 degrees out and my car is surely covered in snow. Time for a drive!"

So I set out for Harlem, and amazingly the snow hasn't all turned to salty mush yet. I get up to my parking garage and see this:

Hm. Seems like I need a closer look.


Looks fine! Barely any snow.

And what about the back?

That shit'll brush right off! Let's get her started.

Starting the car is, I should say, a bit easier said than done. I dust the snow off the air filter, hop inside, and turn the key.

Whirring, no staring.

Whirring, no starting.

Whirring, no starting.

I, however, am strengthened by the knowledge that I just swapped in a new starter motor a few days prior, so cranking and whirring isn't a problem.

But the first cough of life isn't enough.

No, that just begins about ten minutes of re-starting and throttling the engine myself as it won't hold an idle for even a moment. The engine is ice cold, perhaps because it is physically covered in snow that it has to melt off. Here's me getting it warmed up:

And here's the car a little while later, eventually idling:

That's when it's time to see what a completely unpaved snow-covered parking lot is like. Turns out, it's very slidey.


There's a few inches on the ground and under that is slush and ice, so getting the car sideways isn't hard. Getting the car to slide sideways through a snow bank left by a now-departed parked car isn't hard either. Scandinavian flicking around a shopping cart is also not hard.

I figured I'd try and record some snow donuts for posterity. Here they are:

Man, does the Baja look good out there. The wind whipping snow into my face? Less good.

Hey, my wheels look like turbofans! That makes me Ken Block, right?

I get bored after a while, kick all the snow out of my parking spot and put the Baja to bed for the night.

I don't know why exactly, but I walk home feeling a lot better than I did when I left to go see my car.

There's something to be said for just getting out for a drive. When it's early. When it's late. When you think you should probably stay in bed. When your car is covered in snow. When you have to bring a full set of tools in case your car breaks down on uplowed streets. There's something deeply, wonderfully satisfying about it all.

Photo Credits: Raphael Orlove