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Old 11-18-2011, 01:08 AM   #1
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Considering getting an Airstream - Can I tow it?

Greetings,

I am considering getting an airstream (likely an older model between 22 and 25 feet) and I need to know whether my vehicle can tow it. At the end of the day, my car comes first and always will, so it's really a question of whether or not I can tow with it, and if not, I'll go with some sort of teardrop or something and budget more for occasional motels.

I am aware of the additional equipment required to tow (wiring harness, brake provision, transmission cooler, and, in my case, the hitch itself) and if I did get an airstream would be prepared to have these things done to the coach.

The vehicle is a 1988 Cadillac Brougham D'Elegance Eureka hearse. It has a 307 ci 5.0l V8 engine and 3 speed transmission, RWD.

From what I understand, the regular late 1980's RWD Brougham with the same 5.0 is an ideal tow vehicle, but I am looking for insight as to whether it is still a good idea after the vehicle is coachbuilt into the hearse. It adds a lot of weight to the car, but it also has the advent of the Cadillac commercial chassis. As far as I know, there are various reinforcements to the chassis from Cadillac, but Eureka also cuts and stretches the frame about a foot. The weight of the coach itself is right around 6,000 lbs, which is a good 1,500 lbs (at least) more than the baby weighed when she left the good folks at Caddy. Unfortunately, because the commercial chassis is intended only for coachbuilders to exercise as hearses and limousines, there don't seem to be any published capacities.

Does anyone have any thoughts to share as to what the tow capacity (if anything) in this case would be?
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:28 AM   #2
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I would be less concerned about the chasis as I would be about the drive train. The GM 307 engine was just flat gutless. I had one in a 1/2 ton pickup, and like my Dad would have said, "that thing wouldn't pull a sick hen off it's nest".

I tried to tow trailers with it, and at that time I had a 24' Holiday Rambler, and it would do about 55 on the flat and level, but if there was a wind, it was second gear and 45 MPH.

I suppose if it had a low enough rear end gear (you didn't state that), I might do OK with a vintage 20 footer, but I wouldn't try anything bigger.
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Old 11-18-2011, 07:34 AM   #3
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I would be less concerned about the chasis as I would be about the drive train. The GM 307 engine was just flat gutless. I had one in a 1/2 ton pickup, and like my Dad would have said, "that thing wouldn't pull a sick hen off it's nest".

I tried to tow trailers with it, and at that time I had a 24' Holiday Rambler, and it would do about 55 on the flat and level, but if there was a wind, it was second gear and 45 MPH.

I suppose if it had a low enough rear end gear (you didn't state that), I might do OK with a vintage 20 footer, but I wouldn't try anything bigger.
I 2nd that. I had an '85 Chev van with 5.0l. I think it was rated at 5000 lbs, but anything more than 3000 was a real challenge. Hell, it was a challenge to pull itself. That was carbureted.....I can't remember, did Caddy get a throttle body injection by '88? It still was no powerhouse, but better that the carb, by a long shot.
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:19 AM   #4
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As others have said, I think the hearse would be a stretch...

Not that it wouldn't be kool, but it may need too many up-grades to morph into a reliable TV. It could be done...but remember, an older Airstream will need some monetary infusion also.

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Old 11-18-2011, 04:10 PM   #5
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Considering getting an Airstream - Can I tow it?

Greetings KaelanB!

Welcome to the Forums!

The Cadillac Broughmam d'Elegance that was generally preferred for towing was equipped with the optional LT1 5.7 Liter V8. At best, the 5.0 liter V8 was rated at 5,000 pounds and the added weight of the professional car conversion would have been subtracted from that amount. I am not optimistic that your hearse with the 5.0 liter V8 would prove to be acceptable for anything much larger than a vintage Airstream Bambi.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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