Come December, most of the UK’s car enthusiasts have gone into hibernation. We’ll generally spend our time indoors, with the occasional pub gathering with friends, longing for the warmer months to roll around and the last grit trucks to return to hibernation come spring.
While I acknowledge that the UK doesn’t get as cold as some places in the world, when the mercury drops below zero degrees celsius, you have to be pretty dedicated to head outdoors to an automotive event, which themselves are obviously few and far between in the depths of winter. Pistonheads’ December Sunday Service is one of the exceptions.
A couple of weekends back, I thought I’d head along to the final Sunday Service event of the year, which was being held at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire. Trying to be as prepared as possible, I had my spare set of wheels fitted with the winter tyres my STI Spec C 16″ originally came on.
Unlike a large portion of Europe, the UK does not mandate winter tyres, meaning some people who ventured out to the event were slightly braver than me.
However, most cars at the event wore dirt like a badge of honour. Many had travelled a considerable distance in the precarious conditions and it showed.
While the surrounding areas received a few inches of snow, we disappointingly received none of it. Only the main roads received any grit, with everything else layered with a sheet of ice.
It was my first time seeing a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS in person, and I have to say all of the visual upgrades over the standard GT4 give it an incredibly purposeful look.
The VW Passat R36 is a rare car, let alone in Japanese import estate spec. Sadly these never sold well in the UK due to less-than-stellar fuel consumption and high road tax.
Large capacity, naturally aspirated rear-wheel drive coupes – there were quite a few of these dotted throughout the event (one which I’m saving for a spotlight), all which achieve a similar outcome but with vastly differing approaches.
My knowledge of Minis is minimal at best, but I’ve been informed that various subtle differences mean this car is a slightly newer shell restyled as a homage to the older Cooper S rally car, famous for its performance in the snowy Monte Carlo Rally with Paddy Hopkirk behind the wheel.
Given its diminutive size, I almost missed it.
A few more classics braved the conditions, and while these stood out given their age and the relative lack of conveniences such as traction control, ABS, or even an effective heater, we need to remember that at some point in the past this is all that was available. These were the cars that would be used all year round in all weathers, albeit at a slower pace than today.
Supercars always draw a crowd by design; they encompass incredible performance with sleek looks and technology that warrants their eye-watering price tags.
And yet, I still gravitate towards cars that are more attainable in cost and ability to use all of the loud pedal more often. The Audi Quattro being a prime example.
While I was slightly apprehensive taking my STI out on the grimy salted roads given it came with no form of under seal or even seam sealer, I have spent considerable time preparing for it, and it can (and did) get washed afterwards. After all, cars are meant to be used, right?
That doesn’t mean I’ll be out in it all winter, but limiting your enjoyment to half the year when you’re at the mercy of the climate can be hugely frustrating.
Pistonheads as an online community is all-encompassing, with forums catering to a wide range of topics and brand affinity. Being my first time attending a Sunday Service, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the same approach carried over to the real world. I’d expect the next one to be far busier given it’ll be above freezing by that point, but if Pistonheads can get over 250 owners to to attend an event in the middle of the UK winter, they must be doing something right.
I love the variety of cars and the large turnout despite the less-than-stellar weather. It reminds me of a few winter meets I would attend in NYC but we would prevent suffering by drinking hot beverages and going inside whatever business it was located next to. Can't wait to see what the feature car is.
Damn! Some serious cars showed up for this event! Cayman is awesome. A Lambo drove in the winter?!!! Wow! That's crazy. The Cayman looks pretty clean though. Must have an entire detail kit in the trunk. He's not fooling anybody!
Wow I am surprised to see so many RWD cars here in snowy conditions especially that GT4RS
Crazy turnout of cars here too didn't expect to see so many from different varieties I'm all for this!
A LOT of cool cars. But what's cooler than that, is seeing such cool cars being driven, no matter what.
wow, an 1-of-500 CLK63 Black Series made it out! surprised it wasn't mentioned in the deets, considered how rare that car is and the attention the crowd was giving from the background of the cover photo. #UltimateThriller
Ooooo, that GT4RS, with the Mag wheels too!!
some of those cars coming out on their performance tires is even crazier because a lot of them say that they're not to be used in conditions under 40 degrees F. I had a set of AD08's get large cracks around the entire circumference from driving them through the winter and snow in the Sierra Nevadas, I was lucky to not get a blow out
Can't tell if using some of these tires on these conditions are due to simply towing the cars, being insanely careful despite the sort of enthusiasm to get some of these out to an event, downright unabashed ignorance, or insurance scams to wreck nice things for a little bit of fun and profit. Crazy world we live in... Fingers crossed none of these suffered getting floated into harder stuff.
Point of correction- the R36 estate *was* available in the UK new, although very few sold.