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Patientzero New Reader
3/28/19 11:45 a.m.

I have a 1979 Chevy C10 single cab, short wheelbase.

Currently has a mild built 357ci SBC with a 4L60E.  It may eventually get a LS.

I have a 18' steel car hauler(~1800lbs) and tow my '02 Mustang(3100lbs).  I have no doubt the truck has the power to pull it, it also has the heavy duty springs and heavy duty brakes. It was formerly a Dept of Agriculture truck.  I could add air bags in the back for leveling if neccessary. 

My question;  Does anyone have experience towing a car with such a short wheelbase?  I used to have a Tahoe and I pulled a 22' enclosed trailer on a couple occasions and it seemed to sway quite a bit although the tie down points in that trailer were in a weird spot and I don't think I was able to pull the car far enough forward to get enough weight on the tonque.

My usual trip would be about an hour each way ranging from 55-70mph.  I likely will want to venture out to Topeka 2.5hrs or SCCA nationals in NE, 3.5hrs.

The easy answer is go buy a 3/4 ton truck and call it a day but it certainly wouldn't be as cool as the C10 and I wouldn't be on GRM.

Any insight would be appreciated.


mtn MegaDork
3/28/19 12:05 p.m.

If it is windy, I'd be scared. Less so with a non-enclosed trailer like you currently have, but still scared. I hear it gets windy out in the plains, no?


Honestly, you'd probably be fine with common sense, and keeping the speed to 55. But all it takes is one mistake or unlucky gust of wind, and you could be flipped in a ditch. I've towed with a 4Runner and a large boat that probably was similar in total weight and maybe length... It had a couple butt puckering moments. If it is 2 trips a year, maybe. 10? Nope, I'm getting something better for the job.

93gsxturbo SuperDork
3/28/19 12:12 p.m.

I used to tow a skid loader with an Astro Van.  You'll be just fine.  Just make sure it is properly loaded, tongue weight is reasonable, and trailer brakes work well.

Keep in mind that in 1979 your truck was state of the art and no one died* towing reasonable loads.

*= This statement has not been evaluated by anyone.

Vigo UltimaDork
3/28/19 12:20 p.m.

I think it'll be fine if everything else about it is fine. I've towed ~4.5k with shorter wheelbase than that and felt fine. Wheelbase is just one factor. I wouldn't call it a dealbreaker at that mild weight.

For comedic purposes only I'll refer you to the wheelbase to towed-weight ratio of an airport tug. cheeky

APEowner Dork
3/28/19 12:23 p.m.

A body of mine towed a similar trailer thousands of miles with his 2nd gen Ford Bronco with no issues.  A long wheelbase is more forgiving of poor trailer weight distribution,bad tire choices and other issues but a properly maintained and equipped short wheelbase truck can make a perfectly good tow vehicle.

outasite HalfDork
3/28/19 12:30 p.m.

Good tires with strong side walls and proper tire pressure. I towed a large loaded enclosed trailer (rental) from the east coast to South Dakota twice using a 77 Blazer 4x4 with the oem tires. I removed the BF Goodrich AT tires because too much side wall flex.

oldopelguy UberDork
3/28/19 12:32 p.m.

I wouldn't bat an eyelash at your setup but if you are worried maybe add an equalizer hitch with sway control to the mix for piece of mind.  I did a lot of uneventful towing with one on my Jeep XJ and according to the internet I should have burst into flames killing a busload of orphans just hooking up an empty trailer to it.

Patientzero New Reader
3/28/19 12:32 p.m.

In reply to Vigo : I've driven a bobtail pulling plenty more weight than this but it was governed to 35mph for a reason.

frenchyd UltraDork
3/28/19 12:34 p.m.

In reply to Patientzero :I’ve only towed with short wheelbase trucks.

1955 Cameo pick up. 

2 ElCamino’s 

S10 SUV’s**

1997 Chevy**

2016 Ford **

*oops I lied. My 1962 Buick wildcat convertible  was a pretty long wheelbase.  Oh, and the race car hauler was a two ton truck with a camper and a ramp on it for one car while I pulled a second one on the trailer.  For a truck it was a short wheelbase.  

** these all towed my 18 foot long Enclosed tandem axle trailer.  

I’ve repeatedly towed across country, from coast to coast. Over mountains, across deserts, in cities and over the ocean.  

They tow fine.  Easier than long ones to park and maneuver.  Tiny bit better fuel mileage. 

Contrary to what was written by someone else wind does not make the trailer sway because the wheelbase is short. What causes sway is poor balance or poor trailer alignment to the tow truck.  Believe it or not a high percentage of trailers I’ve checked for people don’t have the trailer wheels aligned with the tow vehicle.  And some trailer hitches aren’t centered.  

You can easily check the trailer alignment using string and a ruler/ tape measure.  Ask, I’ll walk you through the process and explain how easy it is to fix. 

Wally MegaDork
3/28/19 12:50 p.m.

It should be fine.  My parents had a short 79 Chevy van that towed a 26 foot travel trailer all over the east coast for years without complaint.  

RedGT Dork
3/28/19 1:12 p.m.

No issues towing ~4500 lbs with a 2003 Dakota single cab short bed, which the internet tells me is 6" shorter than your C10.  Previous owner was moving ~5500 lbs and also lived.  And that's around here with lots of turns, hills, and turns on hills, on the interstates.  If you're within a few hours of nationals...no problem.  The closer we got to lincoln the easier the towing was.


If you're concerned, get an anti-sway kit and make sure the tongue weight is actually correct.  That's more important than vehicle wheelbase IMO.  Also your 22ft enclosed behind a tahoe would concern me MORE than an 18ft open behind your pickup - Tahoe wheelbase is actually shorter, 116" vs 117" if my info is correct and a 22' enclosed is a WAY larger sail in the wind than a mustang is.

No Time
No Time Dork
3/28/19 1:28 p.m.

I used to tow a 21 foot 3000lb boat on a single axle trailer behind a short bed step side, reg cab C10 (1983, 350, M420, 3.08:1 gears) 

I could feel the boat pushing in the corners in curvier roads, but nothing scary as long as speeds were kept reasonable. 

If I did it again I would put higher load range tires (mine were ‘C’), but otherwise it was fine. 

irish44j MegaDork
3/28/19 1:37 p.m.

I used to tow an 18' open deck with a 4Runner, which isn't a terribly long WB itself. Never had an issue. Just make sure you have good tongue weight so the tail doesn't wag the dog. 

Vigo UltimaDork
3/28/19 2:11 p.m.

I've driven a bobtail pulling plenty more weight than this but it was governed to 35mph for a reason.

Well, nothing is really ungoverned unless the operator has no sense of self-preservation. It reminds me of this classic sticker: 


I've done a lot of 'questionable' towing without consequence and a lot of it simply came down to only going as fast as I thought was safe. I don't tow that far or that often so losing some MPH on the trip is not a big deal to me.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
3/28/19 2:58 p.m.

My answer was going to be, Slow Down.  

Then, that answer of Slow Down reminded me of this ol' classic TV scene from the show Taxi. 

Cheating on the driver's exam

Rodan HalfDork
3/28/19 3:00 p.m.

On a flat trailer, with proper tires and weight distribution, you should be fine.  Wind is more of an issue with enclosed trailers than open trailers.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
3/28/19 5:25 p.m.

I towed my race cars on an open trailer for 20 years using a Chevy Astro. You have a 6 inch longer wheelbase. You'll be fine.

ddavidv PowerDork
3/29/19 8:24 a.m.

Tows no problem. Had to move the car further forward due to the lowered height of the Lightning vs the 'regular' truck it replaced.

914Driver MegaDork
3/29/19 10:48 a.m.

I towed the BatVan to Florida with a SWB C-10 4WD and 24 ft. trailer.  It was not balanced properly, tongue light.  (mid-engine vehicle, weight over axles).  Almost lost the whole package in Georgia when the tail started wagging the dog.  SWB to fine, it's the loading and engine size that's important.



iceracer UltimaDork
3/29/19 1:06 p.m.

I towed all over the NE with a Jeep Liberty.  Never a problem.  

I spent a lot of time getting the tongue  weight where I wanted.

Curtis UltimaDork
3/29/19 1:13 p.m.

I'd give it a try.  If all the bushings and steering links are in tip top shape, it should be fine.  Make sure you have trailer brakes.

Crackers Dork
3/29/19 1:16 p.m.

Weight distribution and brakes is really the main concern.

We towed a 1970 Chevelle circle track car with a 1981 C10 stepside short bed with stock 305 (IIRC) 3-on-the-tree, for a full season. 

One of our sponsors was a high end custom boat trailer fabricator. He had a Chevy Luv he used to tow some crazy E36 M3 with. "As long as it's loaded right it will be stable."

Toyman01 MegaDork
3/29/19 1:21 p.m.

I towed my 20' enclosed with a SWB Ford van. 

Properly loaded it will tow just fine. 

Don49 Dork
3/29/19 4:35 p.m.

'I towed a lot of miles with a Ramcharger and 20' enclosed trailer. Never had a problem.

frenchyd UltraDork
3/29/19 4:48 p.m.
Curtis said:

I'd give it a try.  If all the bushings and steering links are in tip top shape, it should be fine.  Make sure you have trailer brakes.

If the trailer sways make sure the wheels on the trailer are pointed straight. A lot of trailers have one or more wheels in a turn even when pulling on a straight road.  

That’s why you check the alignment.  

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