I recently decided that I would answer the beckoning call of the wild by taking my Aston Martin on an 800-mile road trip to Vermont and back.
The call of the wild is no stranger to us wanderers. It has been tempting us for hundreds of years in a variety of ways: the alluring concept of the open terrain, the enticing sound of an empty forest, the romantic idea of living off the land without any modern conveniences. Or, in my case, a mid-afternoon Tweet from a tire company.
Here’s what happened. A few weeks ago, I posted a column and a video where I drove my Aston Martin in the snow. Now, I thought you guys would find this hilarious, because let’s be honest: how many times have you seen an idiot in an Aston Martin slide into a snow bank? The answer is twice, because it happened twice in that video.
But you didn’t find it hilarious. Instead, you got mad – very mad – because I attempted my little snow adventure without winter tires. I won’t read to you the angry comments I received, but suffice it to say that I have now been called more nasty names than that woman who Tweeted the AIDS joke about South Africa.
The funny thing about all this is that nobody really complained in the past when I had vehicles in out-of-place settings. A Hummer on a race track? We love it! A television strapped to the roof of a Ferrari? No problem! A Skyline getting an appraisal at CarMax? Sure! But the moment I tried to drive an Aston Martin with summer tires on the snow… wow. If you guys had the opportunity to execute me or Stalin, after that video went up, I suspect the gulags would still be in place today.
So then a few days later, I was sitting at home like I often am—listening to Jimmy Eat World and pondering serious life questions, such as why they can’t come out with a new album every Monday—when I got a Tweet from a company called Nokian Tires. Apparently, Nokian Tires had seen my video, and they asked if I wanted to test a set of their winter tires with the Aston Martin.
Now, I had never personally heard of Nokian Tires before I got this tweet, but I looked them up and discovered that they’re based in Finland. This was all I needed to know.
It’s like when you hear of a gun manufacturer based in Texas, or a pineapple manufacturer based in Hawaii, or a polar bear manufacturer based in Nunavut. So I said yes, and a few days later they shipped me the tires.
Only, there was a problem: in spite of the beliefs of a lot of readers and viewers, apparently located in Florida or possibly El Salvador, it doesn’t snow anywhere near enough here in Philadelphia to justify winter tires. So I started thinking about what I could do with my newfound snow capabilities, and I discovered that Nokian’s U.S. headquarters are located in Vermont.
And this is how I found myself on the phone with a nice lady at the Best Western Windjammer Inn and Conference Center in Burlington, Vermont, asking what their parking lot is like. (“You have a what? An Austin Healey?”)
A few days later, I went to get the tires installed at my local Aston Martin dealership. After exchanging the usual pleasantries with Eric, my excellent service advisor who I am quite certain believes I am clinically insane, Eric asked:
“You know they’re studded, right?”
No, Eric, I did not know that.
So we looked up the local laws, and we discovered the studded tires are indeed legal in Pennsylvania during the winter, and in New York during the winter, and in Vermont at all times. Therefore, I’m happy to announce that my Aston Martin is currently fitted with winter tires—studded Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 winter tires, described on Nokian’s website as “the most advanced studded winter tire on the market”—and ready for its 800-mile journey to Vermont in the dead of winter, which begins bright and early tomorrow morning.
Since I have absolutely zero use for snow tires, I’ll be testing these out for an extended weekend and giving them back next week. In the meantime, we’ll see exactly how they handle the snow and ice of one of America’s coldest states.
If you’re interested in following along from the warmth (and reliability) of your own home, you can follow me on Twitter or on Facebook for up-to-the-minute Aston Martin road trip updates. Or you can just check back next week, when I’ll return with a summary of a) what it’s like to drive an Aston Martin with winter tires, and b) how an exotic car handles an 800-mile road trip to and from Vermont … in the middle of February.
Assuming, of course, that I don’t break down along the way.