Greetings Goin Retro!
Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstreaming with Vintage Tow Vehicles!
Originally Posted by Goin Retro
Hey FOD's, My partner and I have just finished restoring Lucille Balls 1970 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham and are spending every weekend looking for a vintage Airstream to restore and the do some retro camping. Would love a 77 Sovereign
31'. We have been all through Mesa, Phoenix, Tucson, Scottsdale looking but nothing yet. Just joined this site today and was very pleased to see this FOD link. Looking forward to meeting new friends to "stream" around with.
Looking forward to seeing photos of your Cadillac! Lucille Ball is my favorite comedian/actress, and it would be very interesting to see one her automobiles restored. Many have remarked about my habit of playing the video, The Long, Long Trailer,
whenever I have either of my coaches in a Vintage Airstream Club Open House (I also watch the movie several times during most of my Airstream adventures).
The biggest caution that I would make regarding utilizing your 1970 Cadillac for towing is to make sure that you have hardened valve seats in the heads. Towing an Airstream of any size will place stresses on the motor that can quickly cause valve seat erosion in heads without hardened valve seats. I experienced the valve seat erosion problem when I began towing with my 1965
Dodge Coronet 500 (383 cubic inch V8) in 1980, and it was a huge expense to repair the damage. Once repaired, I never experienced the problem again and the motor was still running like new when I sold the car earlier this year.
Your Fleetwood Broughman will allow you much greater flexibility in towing preparation than my '75 Eldorad has provided. The front wheel drive Eldorados only had two final drives available . . . 3.07 (pre-1974) and 2.70 (post-1974). Neither is particularly well-suited to towing, but the 3.07 is a necessity if a larger Airstream is to be towed in the mountains . . . with my 1975's 2.70 final drive, I must avoid severe grades and mountain towing if towing my Overlander. With your rear wheel drive Brougham, you have the option of changing differential gearing for better towing performance. You also won't have the problem of finessing the hitch adjustment to transfer more weight forward to keep from removing too much weight from the front wheels resulting in traction difficulties.
Most of the Fleetwood Brougham's dating to the era of your's had special heavy duty radiators similar to those utilized in ambulance/hearse applications. If your Brougham doesn't have the heavy duty radiator with four-row core, you may find that you need more cooling capacity. I don't know whether the Brougham has the same tendency as the Eldorado when it gets too hot, but with the Eldorado if the motor runs too hot (not necessarily overheating), the firewall can get hot enough to boil the fluid in the brake master cylinder which result if greatly reduced braking power (if you have any at all). Close attention to keeping the Exhuast Heat Riser Valve is also important in this regard as an improperly operating exhaust heat riser valve can also result in the firewall getting hot enough to boil the brake fluid in the master cylinder. I have had this issue with each of the 1970s Eldorados that I have owned, but don't know whether it was also an issue with rear wheel drive Broughams.
I suspect that you will find that there aren't any factory made trailer hitches that will fit your Brougham. There is a very slim chance that a hitch for the 1990s Brough deElegance may fit your 1970 Brougham, but I suspect that it is a very long shot. There is also a long shot that a hitch for a GM 1/2-ton pickup may
be a possible fit as well. For my Eldorado, a custom weld-up Reese Receiver was required as none of the factory made hitches would mate to its frame. Locating a welder with experience fabricating hitches who is willing to fabricate a hitch today is quite a challenge. I had to look for years to find such a welder. I finally lucked out when I asked the owner of the shop where I had exhaust work done on my Eldorado . . . as it turned out he had fabricated Reese Hitches for years and was willing to do so for my Eldorado. He fabricated a hitch that actually fit the car better than any bolt-on factory hitch could have done. His charge was also much less than the cost of a typical off-the-shelf bolt-on receiver. He told me that fabricating Reese Receiver Hitches is still a rather common task in muffler shops that serve farming communities . . . he was located in the Illinois Cornbelt.
Good luck with your rig!
The photos below are of my 1975 Eldorado with my Vintage Airstreams:
The photo above is of the Eldorad with my 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre. This is the rig that I took to the 2008 WBCCI International Rally in Wyoming . . . averaged about 7 MPG and was in first gear at 20 MPH on some of the steepest grades (almost all travel was on secondary roads). Prior to departure, I had to switch out the Boyd Coddington custom wheels for standard Eldorado wheels as the custom wheels didn't have enough clearance when the weight distributing hitch was adjusted.
The photo above is the Eldorado in its role as tow vehicle for the very first time. We had just returned from the trip to Cedar Falls, Iowa (Ace Fogdall RV . . . a long-time Airstream Dealer and now Authorized Service Center) to pick up the rig after the Cadillac's hitch and wiring had been setup to tow the Overlander in 2002. You may note that there is something unusual about the headlights . . . the dimmer switch had failed at the beginning of the trip so the high beams are covered with duct tape so that the headlights could be used as required due to the rain keeping the windshield wipers in use during the trip. At the time, I had high hopes that I could use the combination for a trip to the West coast, but I just don't think that there is sufficent reserve power to tow the Overlander across mountain grades with the Eldorado's 2.70 final drive.
You can see the custom Reese Weld-Up Hitch Receiver as installed on my 1975 Eldorado. The hitch does make clearances a bit tighter for the custom dual exhaust system (includes dual catalytic converters), and does make removal of the fuel tank a little more complicated. My Eldorado is so low that installing the ball mount is a task that I dislike so it typically remains on the car whenever it is being used to tow either coach.
The photo above illustrates that more complicated "H" design of the Reese Weld-Up Receiver Hitch on my 1965
Dodge Coronet. Due to the Unibody construction on the Dodge, the hitch had to be more elaborate with additional attaching points on the unibody to properly distribute the stresses of towing.
My partner and I will be restoring a Dodge D100 Adventurer Club Cab pickup that he has owned since purchasing from the original owner when the truck was eight years old. It is the same color combination as the truck in the advertisement below and will be used to tow either Airstream, but its color combination is a match to the Argosy: