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Old 11-30-2009, 07:28 AM   #1
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1958 TV's in Photo

The new Airstream Life has a great photo of the 1958 Canadian Rally. Two things I noticed were the lack of trucks as TV's and the number of 1957 and 1958 cars used as TV's. I know that the Airstreams were lighter then, but by how much? Too, I don't think that there were any cars available with disc brakes in '58, let alone an o'drive auto transmission.

Given that traffic went at a slower pace in 1958, I'm curious to know what some of the posters here would have to say about using a 1953 or 1954 Dodge four door sedan as a TV! Lot's of Caddies, Pontiacs, a Packard, Chryslers and DeSotos as well as an IH Travelall and a Suburban.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:07 AM   #2
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The 1950s and 60s were my era. Pickup trucks were for just work. The cars were big and some could tow adequately. My family, Dad, Mom, brother and I moved to Calif. from Michigan via Rte 66 in 1952 towing a packed 26' Pan American with a '48 Nash Ambassador. We made it!
Neil.
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Old 11-30-2009, 08:25 AM   #3
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My first "car" was a 1950 Ford F1 pickup in 1971. It was an old truck even back then, and I enjoyed it a LOT. I was nostalgic for those "good old days" a few years ago, and there was a 1951 Dodge five window pickup for sale here in town. It was mostly restored and cheap enough... so I went and drove it. It didn't take but a couple of miles to realize how much work it was to drive those old trucks/cars. They're uncomfortable, ride like they're on steel wheels, and none of them have air conditioning. Hitches were welded on and the welds failed rather frequently. The brakes were poor (by today's standards) and the engines and trannys typically needed overhaul well before 100k miles. Many of them were worn out at 50k miles. The interior materials were stiff and uncomfortable. They had vacuum windshield wipers (that didn't work very well when you most needed them)... fortunately replaced by electrics sometime in the late '50s in most cars.

They're great for shows and trips down memory lane. They worked as tow vehicles back then, 'cause that's what was available. I wouldn't do any serious towing with one today just because today's tow vehicles are SO much more competent. It's be fun to tow a vintage trailer to a show, but since I want to enjoy my traveling when I go; personally, I'd leave the vintage tows for vintage shows.

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Old 11-30-2009, 09:30 AM   #4
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We still drive nostalgia, although not towng.(see gallery) When "Bertha" was new back in 1953, the interstates were just being built. You were hard pressed to keep steady above 55mph on the 2 lanes, and the car in front seemed a mile away. You need that space to drag to a stop.
Sandra's Grandma used her to tow the Family Scotty up to the Adirondacks every Summer without a problem.
If we still had that trailer I wouldn't hesitate hook'n up again, drive'n on the back roads, following all the 1950's rules of the road.
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Old 11-30-2009, 01:24 PM   #5
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We tow with a 1957 Pontiac wagon. I've upgraded the brakes to front disc's, not a big thing to do now with so many aftermarket kits available for any car.

The car rides nicely, is FUN to drive, and it tows the trailer just fine. Our trailer is a 1951 Airstream so relatively light - it was built to be towed by the vehicles of the day which for the most part were either flathead V-8's, inline 6 or 8's, and most had a three speed standard transmission.

If you want to tow down the freeways at 70 MPH then a vintage TV is not for you. If you want to tow the highways at 55, the byways at what ever speed they happen to be, it is a very rewarding way to travel.

In this age of bigger and better must be the only way to go (look at house sizes today versus 30 years ago) and getting to the camping spot is a chore to be rushed through, or you are doing a lot of off highway driving to get to your camping spot, or total comfort in your TV is critical, then vintage is not for you. But in reality hundreds of thousands of miles were put on by people from the teens to the early 80's using cars to pull their trailers on roads that were far less safe than they are today. Look at the many places Wally's Caravans went on brutal roads using cars as TV's. It is only the advent of more comfortable cars that caused most people to move from cars to big trucks and then bigger trailers made the transition to bigger trucks more common. Keep in mind that trucks are great for tearing down a campsite in inclement weather where the wet stuff can go in the back, they do handle well, and are very comfortable. But, they aren't for everyone. So far, our truck has not towed our Airstream yet in six years .

That's my opinion for what it is worth as someone who has used a vintage car to tow trailers (some vintage, some not) for over 30 years. Deam Art on the Forums uses a '58 Caddy to tow his '58 Airstream and he travels big distances. It is quite the sight to see him heading down the road. Our friends use a '54 Ford to tow a trailer, we have many in our car club who use hotrodded 30's, 40's and 50's cars to tow and one uses a '55 Bel Air Hardtop to tow an SOB 26' without issue. There are many many more on this Forum who do as well. In my view it is one of those things only you can determine.

Good luck with your decision.

Barry
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:46 PM   #6
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I once had a gentleman stop in front of our campsite, look over our Buick convertible then our Trade Wind then looked at me and exclaimed, "Now THAT'S what it should still be like.....good ole 'merican iron and good ole 'merican 'luminum!"
Neil.

PS. Should have I suggested to him that the 'luminum may have come from Canada?
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:47 PM   #7
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Here is what we took to Alaska in 1964 (both TV and trailer were later 50's models). I never heard any complaints about the rig from my father (I was 4 years old). I do remember in later years tackling the grapevine in SoCal. We could do it but we only did about 15 mph in 1st gear. Stopping a couple of times for cooling. No air conditioning either. Definitely a different time then.

My father was very distressed in the 70's when Ford stopped making the 400ci engine that he used. It just got worse, he felt, when they went to unibody construction. That was when he went to a truck.
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Old 12-01-2009, 08:33 AM   #8
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This was my Dad's first tow vehicle. It is a 1955 Chevy Nomad. It had a small block V-8 with a 2 speed Powerglide transmission. We towed the 1954 Airstream to Colorado from indiana that summer with no problems.

This picture was taken in 1956
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Old 12-01-2009, 09:29 AM   #9
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Strong engines and high octane fuel.....the technology
of yesterday was good.
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Old 12-01-2009, 11:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grand Master View Post
This was my Dad's first tow vehicle. It is a 1955 Chevy Nomad. It had a small block V-8 with a 2 speed Powerglide transmission. We towed the 1954 Airstream to Colorado from indiana that summer with no problems.

This picture was taken in 1956
Oh man, now this picture gets my heart a thumpin - hmmm, don't tell my wife....

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Old 12-05-2009, 04:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grand Master View Post
This was my Dad's first tow vehicle. It is a 1955 Chevy Nomad.
This picture was taken in 1956
That is really sweet!
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