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Old 05-20-2007, 06:13 PM   #1
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What Can I Tow?

I have a 1989 Crown Victoria 351 dual exhaust with standard rear end and a transmission cooler. The car is a second vehicle, never used for towing and original 72,000 miles. I would like to buy the largest Airstream that I can pull safely from Ontario to Florida. My extensive research and "trailer experts" have left me thoroughly confused.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:14 PM   #2
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I would think the 350 powertrain would be OK up to 31 feet or 5-6000# although you may be pushing the limit. Are you talking about just a single trip? I would go for it. You will need a weight distributing hitch.

I'm sure there are others out there in the forums who know more than I and will chime in.

I have a 73 Sovereign,(31') and find a 350 is up to the job and I don't need a big block.

Also depends on the type of towing mountains vs. flats.
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:18 PM   #3
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Not a prayer with a 31' foot unit, esp if it is a new(er) unit. The wheelbase alone rules the vehicle out.

My suggestion is that if it's a vintage, you might be able to tow about 24-25' feet max (and even that might be pushing it after passengers, cargo, etc are added to the car). Newer Airstream, 22-23 feet nothing more IMHO.

Keep in mind that the Ford engines in those cars of that era were fast and powerful stand alone, but the typically were lacking in overall power when towing heavy loads. The current Crown Vic has a very meek tow rating, granted that is a 4.6l compared to your possible 5.0L, but the issue is similar. We had a 400ci Ford wagon. Was sad how big the engine was and how poorly it performed. We moved to a 454 Suburban...night and day difference that 54 cubic inches made, in addition to wheelbase, trans, axles, hubs, etc.

IMHO, it takes a heck of a lot more than just simple CIs (cubic inches) to tow. I have an Impala SS 350 and it did move my 25' Safari, but it wasn't happy with doing it. Brakes also come into play here as well. Anyway, I later found out that the 2 of my body mounts stripped out. Just happened to be the ones closest to the hitch. The body and rear box frame was never designed to handle the forces of a heavier, larger RV, which I clearly over did by putting a 25' loaded Safari on it. The engine may have had gobs of power and torque, but as I said earlier, it's only one part of the equation.
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:26 PM   #4
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A sedan, even a large and powerful one is not good match for most Airstreams. The vintage Airstreams were lighter than the newer ones. Even amongst the vintage Airstreams, I wouldn't want to go over 22'. As far as newer Airstreams go, even a 16' Bambi (3500#) might be too much for any sedan.

Keep in mind that sedans do not usually have a suspension that is well suited to towing anything heavy.
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:42 PM   #5
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I was looking for the specs on that model Ford but can't seem to find anything here at home. Silvertwinkie and moosetags are correct in trying to steer you away from pulling anything too large.
I had a 87 F-150 and I think it put out about 250 horsepower and about the same amount of torque.
I think the thing you need to find out is what the rear end gear ratio is. 3.73 or 4.10 might be OK for up to 27 ft on an earlier model but not for one of the big new heavy-weights.
I know a member who pulls an Overlander with a Caprice Classic (similar to the Vic), has done some modifications, and still finds it a handfull at times.
Get your specs, see if you can find the tow rating and make a decision from there.
Tom.
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Old 05-21-2007, 09:15 PM   #6
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An additional consideration, beyond HP/Torque, is that the newer cars don't have frames suitable for towing. Wife and I looked at a Crown Vic as a TV and all the research said NO NO NO. Don't do it.
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Old 06-16-2007, 07:58 PM   #7
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Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marshall
I would think the 350 powertrain would be OK up to 31 feet or 5-6000# although you may be pushing the limit. Are you talking about just a single trip? I would go for it. You will need a weight distributing hitch.

I'm sure there are others out there in the forums who know more than I and will chime in.

I have a 73 Sovereign,(31') and find a 350 is up to the job and I don't need a big block.

Also depends on the type of towing mountains vs. flats.


Your input is sincerely appreciated. Could I trouble you to tell me what vehicle you use to tow your 31"? I have a Reese equalizing hitch 750 bars and would be predominantly towing in reasonable flat country. Our mountain climbing days are over. I believe the car is probably up to the job and agree 5000lbs empty is where I should be looking.
Thanks very much.
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Old 06-16-2007, 08:07 PM   #8
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An older LTD would tow a 31' no problem. I had a '75 Marquis with the 460 V8 and we pulled a 35' Holiday Rambler like it wasn't back there.

The newer Crown Vics do have a full perimeter frame. With the proper springs they should do OK for an older 25' or so.

The older trailers were much lighter than the new ones. If you want to pull a new one, you should look at the brand new Safari Sport models that are coming out. They have a 22 footer that looks really sweet. They use a narrower body than the "classic" style Airstreams we have now, more like the european spec Airstreams. And they are puposely built much lighter. Your Crown would pull that trailer with absolute ease.

Remember, they didn't have 300hp diesel pickups in the 60's and 70's. Your 89 is lighter than my 75 was, and it's got way less torque. But you could easily pull an older mid size trailer.

You might be able to pull a late model 19' Bambi, but probably wouldn't want to go much bigger than that. The new trailers are a lot heavier.

What rear end ratio do you have? I have a '94 Crown but it's got a 2:73 in it which isn't great for towing. You'd want to put in a transmission cooler if you don't already have one.

Best of luck,
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Old 06-16-2007, 10:19 PM   #9
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Your gear ratios have alot to do with what you can tow. You could also change your cam to one with more torque. I think your crown vic has rear coil springs. You could stiffen those up and air bag them for more capacity.
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Old 06-16-2007, 10:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug1939
Your input is sincerely appreciated. Could I trouble you to tell me what vehicle you use to tow your 31"? I have a Reese equalizing hitch 750 bars and would be predominantly towing in reasonable flat country. Our mountain climbing days are over. I believe the car is probably up to the job and agree 5000lbs empty is where I should be looking.
Thanks very much.
Back in the olden days of yore, I towed a 22' Holiday Rambler with a Torino station wagon with a 351 Cleveland. It didn't set the world on fire, but it got the job done. The car was mechanically identical to your Crown Vic, they share the same frame, and the trailer weighed 4800 pounds. I used 500 pound WD bars, and the old friction bar type sway control.
Our current tow vehicle for our 31' is an F250, also with the 5.8, and a 5 speed. It also doesn't set the world on fire, but again gets the job done.
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