Reviewing Santa’s Sleigh
It’s official, Christmas Eve 2015 will be Santa’s swansong before being replaced by a complex network of Amazon drones next year. Since 1823, Santa Claus has brought joy to millions by way of his toy manufacturing and distribution service that he runs in tandem with his Coca-Cola ambassadorial commitments. His 192 year stint hasn’t been without controversy though and has often faced accusations of elitism; filling the stockings of the wealthy with a higher grade of gift than those living on the breadline. These claims aren’t exactly quashed by his choice of vehicle, which certainly bares the hallmarks of someone with a penchant for the upper echelons of society. The mode of transport in question is of course, his iconic sleigh which is being put up for sale on Friday-Ad in the New Year. So, what could you be getting for your money?
Upon first glance, one is instantly struck by the simplicity of the design: timeless classic or passé? Beauty is of course, in the eye of the beholder and the mulled wine red finish certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste but the sleek, curvaceous bodywork is certain to appeal to the inner-child within. The sleigh is certainly the product of a time when men were made of sterner stuff and you’ll certainly have to be in order to withstand the elements given the inexplicable lack of retractable soft or hardtop. If windows and doors are a must-have when looking for your next vehicle then you should probably stop reading this review now.
Slide into the passenger seat and the lack of features becomes apparent. Unapologetically uncomplicated, the rich mahogany interior that caresses the cabin is only interrupted by a single speedometer and cassette player. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill is stuck in the device and will provide the soundtrack to your drive. The cockpit is deceptively large and although unclear whether designed for the obese or the many, allows for at least three adults up front whilst still affording both legroom and impressive cargo space. The lack of the most rudimental of safety features – seatbelts, airbag et al – is a haunting throwback to a time before road safety and installation of the aforementioned is advised.
The sleigh further runs the risk of achieving nothing more than relic status by the absence of any sort of recognisable engine. However, the power lies within the 8CP (Caribou Power) and one tug on the reins brings the whole experience to life with a grumble and snort. The caribou – or “reindeer”, in industry terms – are easy to maintain but not without their flaws. The sheer weight of the eight-strong herd compromise the sleigh’s refreshingly lightweight chassis and the exposed nature of the motor allows for faecal matter to encroach on the driver. Furthermore, whilst a bucket of carrots and sweetened-oats are the sole maintenance requirements, this is sure to disappoint motoring traditionalists who garner satisfaction from the feint musk of oil and petrol.
When it comes to sheer power, this is a beast of a toboggan. The sleigh is capable of speeds of up to 1,800 miles per second – essential when covering 316 million miles in a single night. To give you a sense of the torque on offer; we put it through its paces round our test track and were unsure if our driver had even moved off. He had been round twice before the adjudicator was able to even start the stopwatch! We decided to take it round the circumference of the planet instead to gain a truer appreciation.
To say this is a harsh ride would be an understatement; steering is heavy handed and the cab tends to whiplash round corners which require forethought and acres of space. At its best, the experience is actually quite stirring when cruising at full speed halfway between heaven and earth. At its worst, it is a nauseating ordeal that forces the driver into a ceaseless battle of wits with their Christmas dinner.
A sporty little number but ultimately a death trap to anyone lacking a combination of F1 experience and a PhD in rocket science. The simplicity of the design certainly challenges convention but the absence of any wheels defines it as a one trick pony. Practically unpractical in conditions other than wintrytundra or the sky.