QOTD: Towing Trouble?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd towing trouble

Depending on your lifestyle, hanging something off the rear bumper of your car, SUV, or pickup might be a regular occurence. Maybe you’re a member of the horsey set, hauling thoroughbreds to and from the tonier enclaves of Southern California or Kentucky. Perhaps you’re a road trip buff with a family to lug around. It could be that boats and ATVs consume every minute of your waking thoughts, and the contents of your garage show it.

Or, just maybe, you’re the owner of an old Mazda B-Series who searches in vain every week for just enough scrap metal to keep the lights on at home.

At some point in your towing experience, did something go terribly awry?

Your author has no such tale to tell, as compact, manual-transmission cars are not the best way to lug heavy objects over great distances. My urban lifestyle has no need for a traditional hitch or fifth wheel, though a friend recently bought a mint 2004 Toyota 4Runner in order to haul a dilapidated 1980s trailer up to a secluded spot near a creek. I’m envious of the 4Runner, the trailer, and the creek, and I want everyone to know that.

A story passed down to me from my late father does involve towing, however, and it’s one that feels like it should have taken place in Britain, possibly as the plot of a comedy show. It involves a British car, you see. One that tackled a great challenge and lost.

Well, sort of.

Back in the early ’60s, my grandfather (who once worked at Ford’s Chicago Assembly but never seemed to take a shine to the brand) purchased a family car. It’s important to note that at the height of the Baby Boom, British imports were still going strong in Canada. Tempted by a low price, granddad bought a Morris Minor 1000 to haul around his family of five… as well as a trailer meant to house that family when they visited their camp spot at a lake 2 hours distant.

While dad’s story doesn’t specify whether the Minor 1000 carried Morris’ 948cc or 1098cc inline-four, it’s probably safe to point to the larger of the two mills (which set up shop in the model in 1962). This powerhouse cranked out 48 horsepower and 60 lb-ft of torque — a far cry from the previous 37 hp/50 lb-ft.

Car, family, and trailer made it to the lake. They made it back, too, but not before the little Morris broke two connecting rods and nearly deafened its occupants with pinging as those now freewheelin’ rods attempted to claw their way to freedom. And they almost did.

Wouldn’t you know it, granddad managed to pilot the suddenly vastly overloaded vehicle back to the city on two sluggish cylinders, eventually performing an engine overhaul in his shed that amazed the local British import dealer. The Minor’s mini mill topped factory specs after that.

It’s not boats-passing-drivers-on-the-highway kind of stuff, but it’s an amusing tale nonetheless.

What’s yours?

[Image: Ford]

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2 of 24 comments
  • B-BodyBuick84 B-BodyBuick84 on Dec 03, 2019

    Not so much of a scary incident as it was a pain in the @ss, but some family friends of ours once bought a boat and trailer combo that when loaded, weighed just under 7000 lbs. The day he was to go pick it up, his VW Touareg (diesel with 4x4 and 7700 lb rating I believe) broke down. He needed to pick up the boat that day and the Jetta the dealership gave him as a loaner wasn't helping. His only resort was to borrow his father's vehicle, a 1996 Cadillac Fleetwood that just so happened to have a factory 7000 lb towing package. Amazingly, everything went fine until they were about 1/2 an hour away from home. They got pulled over by a cop that tried to ticket them for dangerous operation of a motor vehicle. It took TWO HOURS of back and forth bickering and phone calling before they proved that yes, this vehicle was legally allowed to tow that much before and he let them continue. To be fair, he was apparently wasn't being an @sshole about anything and actually towed an airstream travel trailer himself. He was just concerned with seeing a very large boat behind a much smaller car going down a rain slicked highway, and didn't believe them when told the Cadillac was technically still under it's towing limit.

  • -Nate -Nate on Dec 05, 2019

    GREAT stories ! . I remember all those 1950's & 1960's pickups parking on the boat ramp with the rear wheels under water, park brake firmly set, engine idling in neutral, eventually the wet brakes failed and the beautiful old truck granpa had given then rolled slowly past and submerged.... The good thing was : those oldies were dead simple to dry out and make run again, all you really had to show was the gauges in the dash all discolored from the lake water.... -Nate

  • Art Vandelay Best? PCH from Ventura to somewhere near Lompoc. Most Famous? Route Irish
  • GT Ross The black wheel fad cannot die soon enough for me.
  • Brett Woods My 4-Runner had a manual with the 4-cylinder. It was acceptable but not really fun. I have thought before that auto with a six cylinder would have been smoother, more comfortable, and need less maintenance. Ditto my 4 banger manual Japanese pick-up. Nowhere near as nice as a GM with auto and six cylinders that I tried a bit later. Drove with a U.S. buddy who got one of the first C8s. He said he didn't even consider a manual. There was an article about how fewer than ten percent of buyers optioned a manual in the U.S. when they were available. Visited my English cousin who lived in a hilly suburb and she had a manual Range Rover and said she never even considered an automatic. That's culture for you.  Miata, Boxster, Mustang, Corvette and Camaro; I only want manual but I can see both sides of the argument for a Mustang, Camaro or Challenger. Once you get past a certain size and weight, cruising with automatic is a better dynamic. A dual clutch automatic is smoother, faster, probably more reliable, and still allows you to select and hold a gear. When you get these vehicles with a high performance envelope, dual-clutch automatic is what brings home the numbers. 
  • ToolGuy 2019 had better comments than 2023 😉
  • Inside Looking Out In June 1973, Leonid Brezhnev arrived in Washington for his second summit meeting with President Richard Nixon. Knowing of the Soviet leader’s fondness for luxury automobiles, Nixon gave him a shiny Lincoln Continental. Brezhnev was delighted with the present and insisted on taking a spin around Camp David, speeding through turns while the president nervously asked him to slow down. https://academic.oup.com/dh/article-abstract/42/4/548/5063004