This is my brain on reason.


Aug 7, 2005   written by Chantal
After a conversation I had with a co-worker, I did a search for front wheel drive skid on Google. I figured this might be a good idea since I have always driven rear wheel drive / 4WD vehicles. This is the first site that came up. The title made me think, “Okay, this is just some person who hates front wheel drive and thinks it should be illegal”. This is not the case.

The author simply wants to ensure that all owners of FWD cars know that they react differently than RWD after they lose traction. Knowing the difference before you get in a situation where you have to apply that knowledge can save your skin. I highly suggest reading through the entire article.


If it is, there are a few things you should know about driving one of these babies in slippery conditions. You may have been driving it for years without any problem, not knowing that when and if you encounter a condition of front-end skid, or fwd understeer, you life may well depend on knowing what to do, and most importantly, that you don’t want to do what was correct with Rear Wheel Drive.

Front Wheel Drive automobiles, although they have been in production in various parts of the world for most of this century, first came to America in any kind of quantity with the advent of the Austin/Morris Mini, first introduced here around 1959. Prior to this time, although there were the odd Tucker, Saab, or Citroen to be found here and there, Front Wheel Drive was a rarity. But what the Minis started caught on, becoming much more popular with the introduction of the Volkswagen Rabbit, and then springing up under the badge of just about every major manufacturer, from Audi to Oldsmobile.

This was a Good Thing for some reasons – the unitized drive line inherent in FWD made production cheaper and easier, for example. And, once you hit the ‘edge’ of adhesion, such as in snow and ice, FWD makes for a much more controllable car – But You Have To Know How To Drive It!


This isn’t absolutely true; when the traction is good, and/or when the vehicle is being driven slowly enough, there is virtually no apparent difference between controlling a front wheel drive vehicle and doing the same with its Rear Wheel Drive Counterpart. Consequently, there are people all over the planet who have been driving their FWD cars for years in a completely blissful state of pure ignorance that there are fundamental and important differences between FWD and RWD. But all this completely changes on that snowy day when you find yourself just a little fast in a corner that’s just a little too slippery – when you get to “the edge.”

Yet, for some reason, it doesn’t yet seem to be popular knowledge that a front wheel drive vehicle is completely different creature to control once the limits of adhesion are reached. I have asked many drivers of FWD cars if they are aware of the different driving style required in event of a skid, and I don’t remember finding a single one who knew what I was talking about. I have, however, encountered a few who won’t drive their FWD in winter, saying it just acts “too squirrely” on ice and snow.

Rally drivers, for whom the Mini became the ne plus ultra within a year or two of its introduction, (there were other, less popular fwds, such as Saab and Citroen) found the differences very quickly. Sports car magazines of the time were full of praise for the way FWDs “pulled their way around corners,” in slippery conditions, while the best one could do with the rear wheel drives was to “cross them up” and hope for the best – using power to the (rear) drive wheels to control how far outward the rear end slews, and correcting for the inevitable outward skid by steering the front end outward to compensate. A little too much power, of course, and the car would inevitably sail right off the outside of the corner – sideways – or come to a halt after spinning around for a while.


Aug 6, 2005   written by Chantal

Aaaah …

Aug 6, 2005   written by Chantal
The car has been broken in for about a week now. It feels great to be able to go over 4500 RPM!

I went to lunch with my co-workers this week, and they were all fighting for a seat in the MINI. Nobody wanted to sit in the back seat, but once they got there, they realised it was actually comfortable. I just found that out a few days ago when I let my brother take his girlfriend for a spin with me and my dad sitting in the back seat.

There are a few little glitches with the MINI so far, but nothing that can’t be cured with a software upgrade. I’m bringing the car in to BMW/MINI on Wednesday to have that taken care of.

Anyway, I just stripped all of the wax off the car so I can use Zaino to make it shine in a way no car has any business shining! I’ll take some pictures with my crappy camera when I’m done, even though it’s a piece of shit. Of course, no car shines like one with black paint, but I’m already washing mine twice a week as is. Imagine how often I’d wash it if it was all black, instead of just the roof. I’d probably wash it every evening, then dust it down after I get to work. With the SUV, I didn’t have to keep it so clean, because they are allowed to get a bit dirty.

I put Zaino on the wheels too, since they are painted. Hopefully it helps to repel the evil brake dust.

Break in … Almost over!

Jul 28, 2005   written by Chantal
5km to go! I plan to go for a little spin this evening to get it out of the way. :-)

I still have to be gentle, but not so damn anal that I have to pay more attention to engine revs than just doing what feels right. So much for my 6.7L/100km (35mpg) fuel economy. That’s going to take an absolute shit now.

Here’s to not having to watch the tach in 1st and 2nd gear!

Oops … I got my MINI!

Jul 27, 2005   written by Chantal
I’ve been having far too much fun to post anything other than a news article. I got my MINI on July 12th, about a week and a half ahead of schedule. As you can see from today’s date, I have had the extreme pleasure of driving it for the past two weeks.

I really don’t know how to describe how this car just seems to know what you want and eagerly executes your commands. The only reason I even slow down to turn corners is so that I don’t look like a complete jerk (or scare people who think any car going that fast will lose control). I really don’t have to slow down, thanks to the absolute lack of body roll, stiff suspension and tight steering. But I do anyway. For the most part.

I’m still breaking the engine in within the first 2000km (1200mi), so I can’t go over 4500RPM or 150km/h. The more I drive the car, the harder it is to do. Every one of the 6 forward moving gears has a good power band. And oh, what beautiful music the supercharger’s whine makes.

Now that I’m no longer driving a SUV, I find that people aren’t scared into respecting my space on the road. I think that the smashing appearance of the car does that instead. 😉 I have found that people are too busy picking their jaws up from the floor of their car to do things like cut me off or not let me merge when a lane is ending in heavy traffic.

Things are so different now. I do little things like refill my washer fluid or get some gas, and people start talking to me. At work, half of the people are on strike. It’s pretty tense with security guards at the building 24×7, etc. Somehow though, the picketers come over to the car to tell me how much they love it. One of the security guards too. He tells me that he’ll probably get fired for checking out the car every day, but he doesn’t care. Little kids pull their parents over by the arm so that they can see the MINI. Other MINI drivers wave to each other on the road … Man this is strange.

P.S. I just finished waxing the car about an hour ago. It looks as good as it did in the showroom, but my digital camera is terrible. I can’t even show anyone the fruits of my labour! I’ll see what I can do. If it gets dirty before I take a picture, I’ll just have to wax it again. And again and again!

Oh behave!

Jul 8, 2005   written by Chantal
I decided to sneak around at the dealership today. I saw a really hot looking MCS. The owner must have really good taste. Oh wait, it’s MINE!


I absolutely love the anthracite headliner. This is the first one I’ve seen out of the 30 MINIs I have seen at dealerships all over the place, so I was a bit nervous about ordering it. The chrono pack isn’t in yet, and I’d guess that the iPod isn’t either. Now that it’s here, the waiting gets REALLY hard.

Yeah I know. The pictures suck but I took them at dusk with my cell phone. The first picture isn’t so bad because I converted it to B/W.

Captain’s Log. Stardate -318473.97

Jun 22, 2005   written by Chantal

Time: Jun-23-2005 00:00 GMT
Latitude: 52 48′ N
Longitude: 32 48′ W
Callsign: SFQG

Distance to Halifax: 2415 km (1501 miles) (1304 nautical miles)

Captain’s Log. Stardate -318470.54

Jun 21, 2005   written by Chantal

Time: Jun-21-2005 18:00 GMT
Latitude: 52 48′ N
Longitude: 18 18′ W
Callsign: SFQG

Distance to Halifax: 3390 km (2106 miles) (1830 nautical miles)

Captain’s Log. Stardate -318468.49

Jun 20, 2005   written by Chantal

Time: Jun-21-2005 00:00 GMT
Latitude: 50 54′ N
Longitude: 10 24′ W
Callsign: SFQG

Distance to Halifax: 3956 km (2458 miles) (2136 nautical miles)

Don Pasquale at Southampton

Jun 19, 2005   written by Chantal

The Don Pasquale is seen in the background on the left. It’s scheduled to leave for Halifax at 21:00 GMT.