Santa's Sleigh Review

William C Montgomery
by William C Montgomery

Fewer 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of being blacklisted for naughtiness, I ask in TTAC fashion whether Santa’s immortal sleigh is a timeless classic or an outdated dud.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.

William C Montgomery
William C Montgomery

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  • Verbal Here's a little tale about long-term Tesla ownership.In 2017 my buddy bought a three year-old Model S for $68k, which was the going rate at the time. He kept it garaged and treated it with kid gloves. It looked and ran virtually like new. The only problem he ever had with it was some kind of recurring issue with the driver's door handle. He never had to replace the brakes.A couple months ago, at ten years of age, the original battery finally bricked. Tesla quoted him $17k to do a battery replacement. But! If he replaced the battery, they would give him $11k in trade on a new Tesla! You don't have to be a math genius to see that those are crooked numbers.Using aftermarket parts is a non starter. Rebuilt batteries can be sketch. And the cap that goes on the battery is a Tesla-only part.Most people don't have $17k burning a hole in their pocket for a car repair. What are you going to do? Ask your credit union for a $17k loan to put a new battery in your ten year-old car? Good luck with that.A local auto recycler quoted him $1000. The recycler said that if he replaced the battery, the car would have a resale value in the low $20k's. That wouldn't give him enough headroom to make it worth his while. He said there are 150,000 dead Teslas in the national inventory (don't know where he gets this figure). And there's no demand for used Tesla parts, since most Tesla owners seem to treat their cars well. So Teslas with dead batteries have marginal scrap value.So my friend's Tesla, with 80k miles on the clock and in excellent condition, with a dead battery, was scrapped. During his ownership, the car depreciated by around $800 a month.He saved a lot of money by not paying for gas, oil changes, tune ups, and consumables. But in the end, all those saving were erased by huge depreciation.Welcome to long term Tesla ownership, folks.(Cue the wailing and rending of garments from the Tesla fanboyz.)
  • Aja8888 My BIL had one of these years ago. great car!
  • Wjtinfwb Job cuts and EV's... is that a winning strategy? You're locked in to substantial labor expense after the UAW agreement signed a few months ago. And EV's ain't exactly flying off the shelves en masse. Get the new Charger out already, it's been teased more than the Bronco and Supra were combined. Get a real Hybrid option out for the RAM trucks and big Jeeps that consumers will buy. Consider bringing back a Gen 3 Hemi with an aluminum block, direct injection and perhaps a Hybrid option to counter the Toyota debacle and get a jump on GM. Dump the Hornet and build Dodge a version of the Jeep Compass they can actually sell. A Dodge with Alfa bones isn't compelling to either brands fans. Fix the Durango's oil cooler problems to avoid alienating police departments nationwide. Do you want every cop in the US driving an Explorer? Freshen up the Pacifica and get Chrysler a cool sedan or wagon that can create a buzz like the 300 did more than a decade ago. And fix your dealers, they are by a large jackasses. Plenty of opportunity for improvement.
  • 3-On-The-Tree True that’s the worst beat down in history.
  • Jalop1991 Tesla has made getting repairs a real headache for some owners, as the automaker hasn’t allowed them to get work done at third-party shops. That policy has led owners to seek  class-action status against the company,So, move next to the airport then complain about the noise.Got it.