By on December 25, 2006

santa_sleigh222.jpgFewer vehicles capture the hearts and imagination of parents and children at this time of year more than Santa’s sleigh. Yet little is known of this iconic ride that makes the rounds every December. In fact, most people know more about Adam West’s valiant crime fighting Batmobile than they do Kris Kringle’s delivery truck. So, at the risk of being blacklisted for naughtiness, I ask in TTAC fashion whether Santa’s immortal sleigh is a timeless classic or an outdated dud.

The Big 2.5 are rightly criticized for glacial product development cycles, but the domestics reproduce like snow bunnies compared to the jolly fat man’s custom workshop. When Father Christmas gave up Yule the goat in favor of this more modern conveyance is unknown. In 1823, the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (a.k.a. “T’was the Night before Christmas”) first noted use of the sleigh and reindeer.

Undoubtedly, it is high time for a new look. The fire engine red paint job and frilly scrollwork are tired and passé. The open cockpit sled is no convertible. Inexcusably, it offers neither retractable soft nor hardtop. Also absent are windshield, doors and windows. This all-weather rig forces its occupants to protect themselves from Jack Frost.

The dashboard is artfully free of dials, buttons or knobs of any kind. While stylistically refreshing, it represents a complete lack of features: no speedometer, air conditioning, radio, glove compartment or cigarette lighter. The front seat is wide enough for two, but it’s clear from the imprint of oversized buttocks that it was made for one.  Legroom is adequate for an obese old elf, but torturously short for those of us with normal proportions. But not all is wrong with this interior; the cargo space is deceptively large.

While the Swedes have pioneered automobile safety, this old Scandinavians toboggan lacks even the most basic safety equipment. Ralph Nader would condemn Santa’s sleigh as “Unsafe at any Speed” due to missing seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, whiplash protection, side impact reinforcement and electronic stability control.

Slide into the driver’s seat and take hold of the reigns. The seating position is high and visibility unsurpassed. The naturally aspirated 16-nostril power plant producing an impressive 8cp (caribou power) comes to life with a buck, snort and lurch. To keep Santa on schedule, the acceleration is lightning fast and top speed is immeasurable. This sporty little bucket really flies. The front-hoof drive configuration delivers exceptional traction on or off-road, even over icy surfaces.

The ride is kidney-crunchingly harsh until you get up to speed, at which time the too-loose air ride suspension gives you the sensation that you are floating. At their best, Cadillac and Lincoln have never flattened bumps so well. However, the steering requires a heavy hand and turning requires forethought and acres of space. The brakes are primitive and lack ABS. Every stop is a skid. In normal operation, the big sled handles as if it were on rails. During sporty driving, it tends to whiplash the cab around corners. The leaning, pitch and rolls contribute to a nauseatingly roller-coasterish ride that guarantees the tossing of Christmas cookies and milk.

The only option available for the sleigh is an upgrade called Rudolph. Rudolph adds a navigation system, front fog light and additional power. Unfortunately, these features come with a significant weight penalty, more than 650lbs, which adds unacceptable harshness during rooftop landing.

Santa has enjoyed great success as a secular and commercial alternative to religious nativity scenes during the Christmas season. But this politically correct image is threatened by utilization of such an environmentally unfriendly vehicle that has no form of emissions controls. The reindeer are incessantly belching and farting methane and nitrous oxide, confirmed greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently released a 400-page environmental study that implicates livestock as contributing three times more harmful greenhouse gasses than automobiles and industry combined. Methane, while less prevalent in the atmosphere, traps 23 times more heat than carbon dioxide.

Additionally, the reindeer indiscriminately spew their palletized waste hither and yon.  Large animal manure is a major source of water pollution around the globe and ammonia gas released from the decomposing dung contributes to Acid Rain.

Nonetheless, Santa’s whip is fuel-efficient. The EPA does not publish estimated MPG for reindeer pulled sleighs.  But a trough full of molasses-sweetened oats, a salt lick and a few gallons of water will keep this motor running through the night.

Santa’s current sleigh is a deathtrap and lacks nearly all modern conveniences. The styling predates the buggy whip. It's time for Jolly Old St. Nick to slaughter his reindeer and upgrade to more environmentally friendly SUV. Perhaps Old St. Nick should waddle down to his local GMC store’s Red Tag Sale and get a deal on a Yukon.

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25 Comments on “Santa’s Sleigh Review...”


  • avatar

    Merry Chistmas from all of us here at TTAC.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    Ditto

  • avatar

    Hmm…lets see, low deerpower…front hoof drive….light weight…fast and efficient…sounds like Santa is driving a Honda!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

  • avatar
    windswords

    You forgot one benefit: Santa's whip doesn't take up parking space in crowded urban areas. He can park on the roof of any building. Merry Christmas!

  • avatar
    lizthevw

    I wish it had the 350Z’s door handles.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I wish it had wheels. It’s kinda useless when the snow melts, and with the onset of global warming, it’s obvious that it’s days are numbered.

  • avatar
    carguy

    It also has questionable emissions that would struggle to pass EPA standards.

  • avatar

    In fact, Santa’s sleigh HAS TO BE capable of exceeding the speed of light. The problem: if you assume deliveries to a billion households, at 15 minutes per household, it would take 28,000 years to make all the deliveries. If 5 minutes per household, that’s still more than 9,000 years. For all this to occur in one night, the sleigh must go faster than light in order to reverse time by a cumulative total of 28,000 years in the one night.

  • avatar
    Brendan McAleer

    …And I heard him call,
    As he sped out of sight
    “Merry Christmas to all,
    ‘Cept those bastards at TTAC!”

    Merry Hanukkwanzaristmas!

  • avatar
    maxxm

    “The naturally aspirated 16-nostril power plant producing an impressive 8cp (caribou power) comes to life with a buck, snort and lurch.” Now that has to be one of the best review satires of all times! Yes, of all times! Thanks for the great piece, and Merry Christmas in the secret Arctic underground hangar until next year.

  • avatar
    TomAnderson

    I actually think Santa would want to pop for a Yukon XL, since it the extended length means room for more presents. Other than that, a great review, and Merry Christmahanukwanzakuh everbody! :D

  • avatar
    Luther

    I bet Jonny would take Santa’s Sleigh over a Chrysler Sebring. With or without Rodolph.

    BTW – David Holzman is a Kill-joy :)

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    It sounds like Santa’s ride is a lot like an old AC Cobra. Not modern but definitely has the right stuff where it counts. Plus, I’ll bet it takes real skills to drive the sleigh at 9/10th’s.

    Santa’s still the man!

    I’d like to install a “Rudolph” system in our car, sounds like Santa’s got the one GPS that actually gets you where you need to go!

    Merry Christmas TTAC! I trust you are already getting permission to thrash the Easter Bunny’s wheelbarrow!

    Chris Johnston

  • avatar
    rrhyne56

    outdrags the latest fighters, no reported accidents in recorded history, driver is immortal. Hey, I’ll take one.

  • avatar

    Merry Ho Ho all.
    If you’d had the same misfortune that I have to see the flick “Elf”, you’d know that due to a lack of Christmas cheer, Santa had a jet engine installed..or so Bob Newhart says..

  • avatar
    mike frederick

    To busy to say Merry Christmas to all…
    Im currently organizing said Deer to local 549 UAW.

  • avatar
    mike frederick

    No more whips.:)

  • avatar
    mikey

    Double time for holidays.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    As the Beach Boys sang, in their prime, “Run, run reindeer!” (See lyrics for “The Little Saint Nick,” courtesy Mike Love and Brian Wilson.) This is the only rig that won’t have to worry about having to meet stricter diesel emissions standards, after January first.

  • avatar

    Fewer vehicles capture the hearts and imagination…
    This all-weather rig forces its occupants to protect themselves from Jack Frost…
    The front seat is wide enough for two, but it’s clear from the imprint of oversized buttocks that it was made for one. Legroom is adequate for an obese old elf, but torturously short for those of us with normal proportions…
    …lacks even the most basic safety equipment. Ralph Nader would condemn Santa’s sleigh as “Unsafe at any Speed” due to missing seat belts, air bags, crumple zones, whiplash protection, side impact reinforcement and electronic stability control…
    To keep Santa on schedule, the acceleration is lightning fast and top speed is immeasurable…
    …The brakes are primitive and lack ABS. Every stop is a skid. In normal operation, the big sled handles as if it were on rails. During sporty driving, it tends to whiplash the cab around corners…

    For a bit the description was eerily close to my 1965 Jaguar E-type!

    Then I read:
    the cargo space is deceptively large

    I’m lucky to get a change of clothes into the Jag’s boot. Oh well… at least I have Sir William’s Sixth Symphony to listen to instead of flatulent cariboo.

    Happy Christmas All.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Ryan

    If Santa would trade the sleigh in for anything, it’d be a Ram SRT-10 (I imagine he’d find a way to special-order one with the 8-ft bed). They’re mostly bright red, have the open bed (better to handle bulky loads – try fitting a pony in a Yukon), and the 500hp is about as close as he’ll get to being able to break light speed in a cargo hauler.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    The SRT-10 is fine as long as you cover it with those tiles they put on the bottom of the space shuttles.

  • avatar
    nutbags

    Happy Holidays to all of the fine writers of TTAC and even finer Readers of said site.
    BTW, Santa’s sleigh is a timeless classic that will never be outdated.

  • avatar
    WaaaaHoooo

    Are we gonna have a Santa Deathwatch now?

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    I wonder what the maintenance costs are like…


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