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Old 03-27-2011, 04:19 PM   #1
"Tinbad ... the Trailer"
Del Gurney's Avatar
1971 25' Tradewind
1965 26' Overlander
Ferndale , Washington
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 312
Question Tow Vehicle?

Hi everyone:
The Sea Captain here again:
Just finished doing my home work (after the Test of buying a Safari 25' '05.)
It was going to go quick and did'ent want to miss the chance as it was an hours drive away

Yikes, the T.V. curve goes vertical from a 19' up! Break controler, load levelers and the like I am now coming to terms with.

I could still buy the '08 Tundra 4x4 fully loaded that was "matched" with it but its too fan$y for me.

Please: What is the BASIC minimum vehicle from early 80's (no off road) that would be's the heavy one - Wide Body 860lbs hitch weight.

Del Gurney

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Old 03-27-2011, 10:01 PM   #2
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South of the river , Minnesota
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Full size pickup
Full size van
Chevrolet Suburban

Early 1980s is a long way back in time to reach for a new-to-you tow vehicle. I would suggest that you won't save any money in the long run over a 2000 or 2001 tow or maybe even a late 1990s rig that is in good shape.

There are some other midsize/largish SUVs -- not large in the Suburban/Excursion sort of sense though -- that may work for you. Nissan Armada. Some years of the Dodge Durango.

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Old 03-27-2011, 11:17 PM   #3
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Hi, just for reference, I tow my 2005 25' Safari with a 2000 Lincoln Navigator.
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:48 AM   #4
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Why a 30 year old tow vehicle? A tow vehicle of this age would be considered an antique. It seems to me that a vehicle like this that is in condition to do any towing would cost substantially more than say a 10 or 15 year old vehicle.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
WBCCI #3628 -- AIR #14872 -- TAC #FL-7
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2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2011 Silverado 3500 (Fred) with Outfitter Truck Camper (Ethel)
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:20 AM   #5
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I would stay with a newer model tow vehicle. Why invite trouble when on a trip? If an older model breaks down it may be difficult to find parts, etc.
Steve & Beth
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:20 PM   #6
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I hate to advise people to spend money they do not have. But if you can swing it, buy the Tundra with the trailer.
If not, Jammer is on the mark. I would stay away from old vans personally, since I have had several.
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:58 PM   #7
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Tow Vehicle?

Greetings Del!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Airstream ownership!

While I truly enjoy towing my Overlander with both my '75 Cadillac Edlorado and '65 Dodge Coronet 500, before considering a tow vehicle from the 1980s I would suggest you consider the following quiestions:
  • Do I enjoy working on a vehicle with multiple excentricities?
  • Do I enjoy the challenge of locating unusual parts in unfamiliar locations?
  • Am I ready to spend considerable money on necessary repairs and modifications to make the Vintage tow vehicle safe for towing in modern traffic?
  • Am I prepared to locate a custom hitch fabricator to fabricate a hitch for my Vintage tow vehicle?
  • Am I prepared to deal with ignition and carburetion system problems that may be totally unfamiliar to today's young mechanics?
My suggestion is don't consider a Vintage tow vehicle unless you can answer "Yes" to all questions. I had to spend close to $2,000 on the Dodge in its towing prep and close to $3,500 to prepare the Cadillac for towing. In both cases, I had owned the cars for more than a decade so was quite familiar with their existing limitations and needs. I have only had to be towed in once, and that was in 2008 when a newly remanufactured alternator failed after less than 250 miles -- it took three days to have the proper part shipped to the garage handling the repairs -- I wasn't on a tight schedule so this afforded me the opportunity to explore the area where I was temporarily stranded.

Good luck with your deliberations!


P.S.: My suggestion would be to consider a 1998 or 1999 C2500 Suburban with the 7400 VORTEC. These vehicles are quite reasonably priced on the used market and one would be much easier to have repaired on the road. I purchased my K2500 Suburban new, and it has been an excellent tow vehicle for nearly 200,000 miles and it is still going strong.
Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 03-28-2011, 05:24 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
I would stay away from old vans personally, since I have had several.
Why is this?
As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.
- Andrew Carnegie
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:14 AM   #9
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Drove several vans with a wheelchair lift for a number of years. To me, vans are heavy and put a lot of load on their power train. Plus they are very hard to access to work on. Did a couple of transmissions, rear ends, and an engine swap. $5000 on one of them for the rear air and heater. (and you have to have it for a wheel chair bound passenger) Lots of alternators and water pumps and a couple radiators. Brakes and brakes and shocks. If you buy a new van and take care of it might be a good thing. Engine takes a lot of room so the front seating is not generous. Hard to see to the sides and rear to drive. No 4 wheel drive. I see people towing with new, heavy duty vans that love them. But an older van of the 150 class is just not a vechile I ever want to see again want to do again. Currently daughter is living in assisted living with a driver and a van. Through the last several vans they can not go out about 10 percent of the time because of some problem, usually electrical, with the vans.
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Old 04-06-2011, 01:52 PM   #10
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Bill M. speaks the conventional wisdom which I have also found to be true from personal experience.

Minivans and full size vans alike have several expensive failure-prone mechanisms not present on trucks. The sliding side doors, rear heat/AC, and unusual steering geometry are among them.

Service accessibility is poor making them costly to maintain and repair as they get older.

Older vans especially tended to have short lives for non-engine components due to the lack of cooling air around the engine. The alternator especially depends on cool air particularly when run at high output and on a hot day with the rear air going and everything the alternator output is going to be high.

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