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A winter rat is a colloquialism, apparently only used in Central New York, for an old car purchased for the express purpose of driving during the winter. The reason so many people in Syracuse, NY, own multiple vehicles is due to the long winters; heavy lake-effect snow and heavily salted roads take a toll on an automobile, and it is quite common to buy a second car for use only during the winter months. If it's a bedraggled old Cadillac or first-generation SUV, even better. The origins of the term itself are unclear, as are the reasons why the phrase is virtually unheard of even in other cold upstate cities.

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