ThingWithWheels New Reader
11/20/15 12:45 p.m.

I have been looking for a solid GM B-body for a tow car for my MR-S for a while but the cheap ones are pretty beat up or their frames have returned to the earth. While a southern import may be a good idea I started looking more at Crown Vic's which are way cheaper and a decade newer for less money. Save the "buy a truck" responses, I got rid of my truck because I didn't use it enough. If I end up with a van then that's fine but I haven't given up on a tow car yet.

I found some old Crown Vic owners manuals online and their towing capacity went through an odd evolution. They could tow 5k up to 1995, then in 1996 and 1997 only Canadian CV could tow that with a towing package. 1998 to 2002 they are rated for 2k. 2003 up they are rated for 1500. I understand the chassis was substantially redesigned for the 1998+ model but up to 1998 they seem to have no big changes to the chassis.

This may all go back just to manufacturers warranty but why would they change the towing capacity of the car year to year with no redesign?

Related question, assuming the chassis can handle it am I going to jail for towing 3500 lbs with a 2008 P71 or is it just really dangerous with a parallel 4 link and watts link? I know it is unsafe to tow with an overloaded truck but if all I'm hurting is the engine/transmission then I am willing to sort that out. I still can't figure out towing legality. I see an old man all the time that tows a little utility trailer with his Tercel, different I know but a similar situation, legal or not?

curtis73 GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/20/15 1:36 p.m.

Although I'm opening a can of worms, I'll say it again. Factory tow ratings are bulls#!t. They are numbers that engineers spend thousands of hours calculating and then marketers modify the numbers to suit the market. You are witnessing that first hand with the wacky tow ratings on the CV. B-bodies did the same thing. The Caprice is rated to tow more with a 4.3L and 2.73 gears than the Impala SS with 3.08s and an LT1. The market doesn't buy Impalas for tow pigs, so why increase their warranty repair liability by giving it a high tow rating?

The big drawbacks you'll have are chassis and engine. The CV is a little less beefy in the suspension department than a B-body so you'll have a bit more tail wagging the dog. I towed 3500 with my SS and it was about the limit and really could have used brakes on the trailer. The engine is fine, but nothing about 281 cubic inches will be happy with a lot of weight. Adequate, but not excellent.

I would consider capping your trailer weight around 2500-3000 with a CV.

Legality has very little to do with it. Police won't issue a ticket if you're over your rated tow weight. What they can do is subjectively issue a citation for safety issues. If you are towing a 35' travel trailer with your CV and it is swaying all over the road, that's where you get in trouble. The only other real legal issue is if you end up in court after an accident. If the prosecution argues that you were over the tow rating, it can affect the verdict and the award (via precedent).

Tow ratings are not legal limits. GVWR is. Tow ratings are suggested guidelines that save the manufacturer warranty repairs. Of course, half of the world is over GVWR with a full tank of gas and a couple passengers, but the world of legality and road weight is extremely subjective. Since non-commercial vehicles aren't weighed, it is a subjective jurisdiction.

I have a dually truck that is 10k GVWR, but its registered as weight class 2 which is something like 7200 lbs. I'm over that with a full tank and a chainsaw, but I'm not going to get a ticket for having a bed full of firewood while towing a 10k trailer.

SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltimaDork
11/20/15 3:58 p.m.

My dad's P71 had absolutely no problem towing my Corvair on a full steel car trailer.

belteshazzar PowerDork
11/20/15 5:03 p.m.

I towed all over with my 2002 P71, even before I put a 5.4 in it.

It's the same engine, transmission, and rear axle as a typical F150. Proceed accordingly.

ThingWithWheels New Reader
11/20/15 6:01 p.m.
curtis73 wrote: The market doesn't buy Impalas for tow pigs, so why increase their warranty repair liability by giving it a high tow rating?

This is a way I never thought about it. Good point.

The chassis is my main concern, mainly the rear suspension. I do want this to be a safe towing setup I could pull long distances or else it's not worth it to me. It does seem like larger cars tended to have triangulated four links rather than parallel, which would make sense for side loading caused by trailer weights or more likely overall durability and simplicity. Maybe the Watt's link would be worth beefing up for side loading. What did 60's Chevy pickups with coil springs run? Probably not the best benchmark but isn't the truck arm basically a triangulated 4 link?

Also, it's great to know other people have done this already.

TheEnd New Reader
11/20/15 6:07 p.m.
SyntheticBlinkerFluid wrote: My dad's P71 had absolutely no problem towing my Corvair on a full steel car trailer.

That's awesome.

SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltimaDork
11/20/15 6:24 p.m.

In reply to ThingWithWheels:

I think you need to consider air shocks or something equivalent in back to keep the car level. Also, if you are planning on towing a lot, a trailer brake controller wouldn't bee a bad idea to have if that's what your trailer is equipped with.

That's not the first time we've towed something that heavy with my dads P71. It does cause the rear to sag, not bottomed out, but close enough that I would consider some air shocks if this was a constant thing.

chada75 New Reader
11/20/15 6:44 p.m.

The Mid 90s model you describe is a great choice since you can upgrade the brakes to a 1998-2002 specs. The Wheel size will have to be at least 16 Inches. The weak link of the 98+ for towing is the Upper Control Arms. ATDC? Makes a set that'll safety increase the tow rating of said 98+ chassis. Trailer brakes are a must though.

ThingWithWheels New Reader
11/20/15 7:32 p.m.

In reply to chada75:

ATDR looks to make some panther suspension parts.

ThingWithWheels New Reader
11/20/15 7:34 p.m.

Electric trailer brakes and a brake controller was a given in my mind.

I saw this listing the other day that got me thinking:

BUT just saw this one as well:

A 5 year old car for $1500 in seemingly good shape, seems like it's too good to be it probably is. I need to look into the difference in taxi and cop cars also.

Knurled MegaDork
11/20/15 8:07 p.m.

I've seen too many 'Vics with terminal frame rot to ever want to tow with one.

Also, I couldn't trust any Ford automatic trans that didn't call itself C6. And 4.6s are nice to work on but I wouldn't want to own one.

So, the Vic would be sweet if you just had a different engine and trans and body.

belteshazzar PowerDork
11/20/15 9:21 p.m.

frame rust is less prevailent in the 2003 and newer, and it hardly happens overnight.

Further, the 4r70w is a plenty stout transmission for a load below 5000lbs. Better than the trans in a B-body. Rear end too for that matter.

SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltimaDork
11/20/15 10:39 p.m.

In reply to ThingWithWheels:

I'd go with one that saw police use over taxi use. Far less abuse. Plus those taxis probably have 300k miles on them.

aussiesmg MegaDork
11/21/15 7:30 a.m.

I have towed a 244 Volvo wagon behind a 77 Corona sedan, that was not even odd when I was young in Australia, also towed thousands of miles behind a 1990 Commodore and a 1981 Falcon wagon, both unibody cars with small blocks.

However I did manage to wreck hard towing my Rx3 behind the Commodore, mainly due to the car being low and the A frame being too high, causing the rear wheels on the trailer to barely be on the road.

Set it up right and drive it with due care and I wouldn't be afraid to tow with a Vic, ride leveling hitch would be recommended IMHO.

patgizz UltimaDork
11/21/15 8:38 a.m.

i towed a 78 el camino on a 2000lb flatbed tilt trailer with my 91 caprice sedan with 305 and 2.73 rear. it worked mostly, i got home, but i was young and dumb and without truck so i did what i had to do. i had a class 1 clamp on hitch that i drilled a step bumper 2" receiver to fit so it would look like i has a class 3 when i went to the rental place. probably should have killed me but i was 18, indestructible, and knew better than to spend $200 on a real hitch when a clearance hitch and a piece would get things done.

i think beefier rear springs or air helpers should be in order(see vic pic above, it's sagged bad). i know when i put much in the trunk my p71 would squat like sasquatch taking a number two in the forest. my frame rotted out from under the solid body and 74k mile drivetrain, so i personally would never consider another pre 03 panther. i have been considering picking up an 03+ to drive a bit then use as a chassis donor.

towing is all about setup. err on the side of caution and spending more money to be safe, weight distribution setup with sway control is relatively not cheap but it made the drive to florida and back with enclosed trailer and challenge car a breeze with my 1500 avalanche.

aussiesmg MegaDork
11/21/15 9:49 a.m.

This type of hitch will eliminate the sag

ThingWithWheels New Reader
11/21/15 10:47 a.m.

In reply to SyntheticBlinkerFluid:

The only reason I brought up a taxi is one of the links I posted supposedly has the owner selling 4 2010 CV taxi's with 140k miles on them for $1500 each.

ThingWithWheels New Reader
11/21/15 10:55 a.m.

In reply to aussiesmg:

Have you ever used one of these hitches? I'm aware of them but all the towing I've done has been well under a truck's limits or under 35 mph so never used one.

I was doing more digging this morning on the CV chassis, instead of anything productive. I remembered they have had issues with gas tank ruptures when cruisers get rear ended. Originally I assumed that they would have made the rear ends have a larger crumple zone and absorb the energy but it seems to be the opposite. I came across this:

It is kind of long so I will include a couple of highlights.

In November 1997 (for MY 1998 � vehicles)...The rear frame was reinforced in the kick-up area to reduce the likelihood of buckling in that area.

Ford modified the center bumper reinforcement, added two welds to the outboard edge of the mounting bracket and center beam section, and increased the rear panel thickness of the fuel tank from 0.030" to 0.037".

This was all done before the +03 models but I also came across ads where they sell the later CV as capable of taking a 75 mph rear end collision. This makes me think they did the complete opposite of what I expected and really beefed up the rear chassis. The control arms or Watt's link could still be the weak link though.

SyntheticBlinkerFluid UltimaDork
11/21/15 1:15 p.m.

I don't care who you are, if you get blasted by another car doing 75, bad things are going to happen. Ford can beef up the chassis all they want, unless you're in an APC, that car is going to be an accordion.

aussiesmg MegaDork
11/21/15 7:11 p.m.

In reply to ThingWithWheels: I have used one extensively for the past 10 years on my ugly old ramp trailer which is very nose heavy, I have probably towed close to 100K in it including: many Challenges, many Mittys and a couple of Rolex's

 photo GRM2010Challenge063.jpg

 photo 2013-11-17_12-17-48_336_zpsbbef8d87.jpg

ThingWithWheels New Reader
11/23/15 1:21 p.m.

In reply to aussiesmg:

Wow! Thanks for the pic. That does look like it would be nose heavy. If a weight distribution hitch can help that much I have seriously underestimated how well they work. I need to look into how they function more.

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