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Old 01-11-2003, 08:49 AM   #29
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Re: towing Airsteams in the 1960s ???

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Originally posted by oldvws
Hi.....
When you look at all the old pictures from the 50s-60s you see them being towed by normal passenger cars.
Now everyone wants a big block V-8 or a Turbo Diesel.
So my question is "How did thy do it "

thanks for your thoughts.......
Not everyone wants at truck or turbo diesel although it is obviously the choice of a few of the more active forum members. True, large heavy Airstreams do have high demands especially when towing in the mountains.

Yes the were many sedans towing Airstreams in the 50's, 60's, & 70's. They got the job done but didn't do it with much finesse by today's standards.

In reality there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of late model cars and minivans competently, and safely towing RV's today and they are doing it better and safer than the passenger cars of 30 or 40 years ago.

In a nutshell modern technology has produced some very competent tow vehicles ( sedans, and minivans) that over the past 20 years of use and, on the road testing have proven to be a great success.

Many modern day towing experts now use a different approach when evaluating potential tow vehicles. Whether a vehicle has a frame, unit body, or combination of both is of secondary importance. If it weighs 3.500Lbs or 6,500Lbs again is not necessarily the key to a evaluating a successful tow vehicle.

A vehicles handling, stability, traction, braking characteristics and other key factors are now looked at as well as the vehicles weight carrying ability and axle load ratings.

Years ago when we drove on low tech tires a vehicles weight was used to "push down" on the tires to produce traction. The heavier the vehicle the better its ability to get traction. Today modern vehicles "tire to road" traction factor has much improved with the use of high performance suspension systems, sticky low profile tires etc, thus diminishing the need for weight to be the medium to "get grip".

Current technologies found in every part of vehicles that we are all using and taking advantage of are far superior than those found in the vehicles of the 60's and 70's. The thought of towing with a vehicle from the "60's" with non anti lock drum brakes, 78 series bias ply tires, no seat belts, etc is hard to imagine when you compare them with the vehicles of today.
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Old 03-24-2003, 11:28 PM   #30
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Station Wagons forever

RoadKingMoe

And others have already mentioned the older cars' full frames, torquey big-block motors, and truck trannies. Today, cars are made as absolutely light-duty as possible for higher gas mileage. They use smaller engines and get horsepower through rpms rather than torque. (HP=(torqueXrpm)/5252). The SUVs of today are just the full-sized station wagons of the 60's. Problem is the trailers have gotten a lot heavier, so larger tow vehicles are necessary.



RoadKingMoe is right on the money, as usual.

I love classic station wagons, from late 60's and early 70's, especially mopars.
  • They used to be easily available and frugal, cost-effective.
  • Lots of power and lots of room
  • More stable on the highway with lower center of gravity
  • Easiest vehicles to work on than modern cars, no computers. Easy to replace water pump, fuel pump & filter, radiator, spark plugs, anything
  • That classic feel instead of driving a plain-jane vehicle without a personality

The downside was - abysmal mileage, rust and relatively poor handling. Body fit wasn't as good, more noise while driving. Lately, there is another problem: Getting replacement parts. They are becoming rare.

I almost bought a 1965 Dodge Coronet Station wagon. Problem was, it doesn't run well on modern fuel. I don't remember if it had a towing package, probably not. I also almost bough a 1967 Plymouth Valiant with 30K original miles but parts for it really hard to find. It also had that 287 (?) engine, not 318.

The old 318 engine (still produced for Dodge RAM) is the best small block V8 available IMO, I couldn't wear mine out. For serious towing, I would want a 383 or 440, I think - and they would get less than 10 mpg. <sigh>

So if you want to do it right, tow your classic 1960's Airstream with a 1960's classic station wagon. <g>

In the context of A/S and towing - well, I think I would rather have a modern truck. Due to suspension.

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Old 03-24-2003, 11:34 PM   #31
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I would just like to add that almost any GM V8 (with the right stuff and I know there are exceptions), could pull. GM killed the full perimeter frames after the 1996 model year. I have an '80 Delta 88, now in retirement that pulled upwards of 3400 lbs. The current '96 is factory rated 5000lbs of tow capacity.

I don't think the towing left until after 1996 and you either then needed to jump ship and go with a Crown Vic (that never had the guts like the GM counterpart) or you had to go with a truck or SUV (higher profit margin). But from the 60's to the mid to late 90's, small blocks were around and up to the task.

Eric
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Old 03-24-2003, 11:58 PM   #32
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I don't think the towing left until after 1996 and you either then needed to jump ship and go with a Crown Vic (that never had the guts like the GM counterpart) or you had to go with a truck or SUV (higher profit margin). But from the 60's to the mid to late 90's, small blocks were around and up to the task.


Silvertwinkie

Indeed what a disappointment when GM killed both the Chevy Caprice and the Roadmaster. My Caprice has a towing package for 5,000 lbs. It doesn't, however have the LT1 'vette engine available for '94 to '96 years, which was well over 200 HP.

If I were intested in a smaller A/S, like Bambi or something, I would have used that. Fantastic as a daily driver. I do think earlier SW were a bit more "heavy duty" than this one.

Now GM doesn't offer a small block V8 sedan, period, neither does Dodge. Ford does, but not in a SW configuration and I don't know their towing ratings. You have to get the dreaded SUV or a truck.

A SW is a one size fits all kind of thing but a diesel truck is in fact better for serious towing, it is the ultimate towing vehicle for anything bigger than 30' - IMO
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Old 03-25-2003, 10:37 AM   #33
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Ipso: just an fyi: the last production year for the 318 was 2000. I got one of the last ones....

Our resident Chrysler engineer tells me I should've gone for the 4.7 that replaced the 318 maybe....but I think I'd rather wait until people are saying "that engine has been the most reliable thing for the last 30 years!" LOL!
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Old 03-25-2003, 10:41 AM   #34
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Ipso,

I have the LT1 and it's great. The smaller engine also does a very good job. The station wagons could tow a bit more due to the extra support metal the wagon has by it's nature.

I agree that for anything over 5000lbs, a truck is the ony way you can go lately. I have heard that Dodge is going to put a car out with a Hemi, and GM is also bringing back the RWD cars, but most if not all will be unibody and as such won't safely be able to tow like an SUV or truck with a full parimeter frame. I'm glad that I got the Caprice and the Impala in '96 before they rode off into the sunset.

On a side note, a bunch of the components that went into the pre 2000 Chevy trucks are the same parts in the B-Body (Caprice, Impala, Roadmaster and D-Body Fleetwood). With minor modifications you could get the tow rating up to about 6,000-6,500lbs just like their truck counterparts.

Pulling Bambi is like there is nothing back there!

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Old 03-26-2003, 11:49 PM   #35
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Silvertwinkie,

You have the ultimate combination. Caprice with 260 hp LT1 and 19' Bambi, that must be awesome. I towed a trailer which weighted more than that with my Caprice for 2,000 miles. I did it in over-drive - stupidly, as I found out but it can be done. I was going 70 and the MPG went from the usual 22+ to 9. RMPs must have been pretty high. Anyway, it is a great combo you have there.

Something better options-wise than Chevy is a '94-96 Buick Roadmaster. You can easily find these pretty cheap. New, these vehicles were $27,000. I heard GM was losing money on them. And now, you can find them in good shape for 1/8 of the price. Pretty good deal I think.

Caprice/Roadmaster station wagons are the pinnacle of station wagon tradition. The bigger V8 offers plenty of power for towing these smaller units. Yet with overdrive, it gets 22-24 MPG on the highway, which is remarkable for a V8. In the 60's, these big block V8 got what, 10? Mileage wasn't even a concern then, with gas 20 cents per gallon. The gear is high enough where engine noise is not a problem. They are aerodynamic with a low center of gravity, thus making them far more stable than SUV and trucks with better road handling. The wheelbase is pretty long, one of the longest in passenger cars. The cargo room is outstanding.

A SW is a strange beast. If you need a sports car, they are not as good as a sporty car. If you need a truck, they are not as good as truck. But if you don't know what you need and want a multi-purpose one-size-fits-all kind of vehicle for occasional towing of a light unit, you need a station wagon. Furthermore, you want a SW.

http://www.stationwagon.com/gallery/gallery.html


chuck

Good. In the 70's chrysler products, various Dodges and Plymouths were used in Los Angeles and SF as taxi cabs and were getting insane mileage - 200,000, 350,000 miles and more. With 318. Slant six is yet another great engine also capable of extremely high mileage. 150K for these engines is nothing. The body will rust away before you break the engine and given that your truck has been galvanized, it won't rust like 70's mopars.

After early 70 and emission control, 318 lost a lot of HP. By mid 70's it only had a mediocre 145 HP. So I wouldn't use that to tow an A/S. Look for 60's and they are impossible to find and when you do find them they are expensive if in good shape. The late 70's were the worst of all worlds. With emission stuff, their HP was way lower than in 60's, yet their MPG was terrible. With thinner steel, they were more susceptible to rust.

Plus in '78, Chrysler was on the edge of bankruptcy and their products reflected that. I looked at a '78 Plymouth "Custom Suburban" SW (one of these super long SW) and the quality was nowhere near the level of 90's GM products and they lacked the simplicity of late 60's and early 70's classics. You have to be a SW fanatic to like one of these. Which the owner was. Even put it on www.stationwagon.com.

I got a truck, I don't practice what I preach.
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Old 03-27-2003, 08:11 AM   #36
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Ipso,

Nice wagon site. The Caprice LT1 is a nice tow vehicle. I have modded it out and I am currently at about 274hp and 334ft/lb torque. I plan on adding some headers and a more free flowing exhaust. I hope to have it at or slightly above the 300hp mark by the middle of summer if possible.

The only complaint I have is when a car flies by me at over 75-80 or a truck going 65, the whole rig shakes. I know what causes it, I'm just not sure if it would be reduced if I had a truck.

As for pulling though, 9-10mpg is what I get towing. And you're right on the money when I'm not towing, I get about 22-23hwy.

BTW, my MPG was based on being in regular "D" non- overdrive. I have found though that if you use overdrive, you can still tow, but you must make sure the torque converter is locked at it's respected RPM band. For me it's between 1400 and 1800 rpms.

Regards,

Eric
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