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Knurled. GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/8/18 6:30 p.m.

One of my more vivid memories is from flat towing my GTI home with a borrowed 2.5RS.



Imagine a very long, maybe 1/4-3/8mi, curving interchange ramp.  (The ramp that I-71N takes over I-480, for you Cleveland types).  Imagine taking this long curve at about 65mph, which feels a little bit too fast.  Imagine taking this long curve at 65mph, which feels a little bit too fast, with the towed vehicle pushing the back end of the Subaru out, so that this curve is taken with opposite lock, and even though you are going a little bit too fast you do not DARE lift off the throttle, let alone brake.


Very exciting.  Not sure I wanna ever do that again.


Then I did this:


I'm not too bright.

Dusterbd13 MegaDork
2/8/18 6:33 p.m.

I've been looking this evening for the hardware to mount a drawbar to the Miata. Stuff like five hundred bucks. Is this something I can Fab up myself?

Knurled. GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/8/18 6:37 p.m.

Harbor Freight tow bar, $60.


On the RX-7 the bumper was way too flimsy, so I arranged the safety chain so that it was actually pulling on the safety chain and not the bumper itself.

EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/8/18 6:41 p.m.

There is not a good way to attach a tow bar to a miata without removing or cutting holes in the bumper. I recommend a tow dolly if you don't want a full trailer.

JBasham HalfDork
2/9/18 11:19 a.m.
Dusterbd13 said:

I've been looking this evening for the hardware to mount a drawbar to the Miata. Stuff like five hundred bucks. Is this something I can Fab up myself?

I feel your pain.  I think this problem is the reason for tow dollies (well, that and front wheel drive cars).  I managed to fab something up myself for an E36 (not a euphemism in this case) but it isn't easy to use.  Bumpers these days are designed to absorb 5mph impacts, so you can't attach to the bumper support.  Somehow, you have to get to the frame.  All I can say about the $500 price is, that's cheaper than a good dolly, and less trouble to use.  Knowing how easy my E36 tows, I would have paid that if I could've found one.

As for the tire issue, I keep a set of summer max performance radials for use as wet tires anyway, and these are perfectly serviceable transit tires.  Even with my kludged towbar attachment rig, I can swap tires and have my track car hitched to my tow vehicle in the same time it takes the other guys to attach and load their trailers.

Robbie GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
2/9/18 2:02 p.m.

Re: attaching the tow bar

On my Saab the front bumper is really easy to remove, and the front frame horns have a perfect place to attach the tow bar. 

Even then, I wouldn't love removing and attaching the bumper twice in a day just for an autox or something. 

Suprf1y PowerDork
2/9/18 3:02 p.m.

I've flat towed thousands of miles with no issues and never once been pulled over or even looked at by the cops. I built a custom towbar that bolts to the factory tie down points on the Suzuki cars I raced for a decade. I'd post a pic of it but my buddy is using it to pull his car to New Brunswick right now.

I would not hesitate to flat tow a car anywhere. I've probably used a dolly as much and  would prefer to flat tow.

iceracer UltimaDork
2/9/18 3:13 p.m.

Once when I flat towed, as I picked up my ticket for the Thruway ( I-90 ) I was asked if the car being towed, run.

   Seems NYS has a thing about towing a non running vehicle on the Interstate.

Dirtydog GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/9/18 3:16 p.m.

The only experience I've had is with a trailer.  Aside from when I did heavy towing back in the early 80's.  Flat towing is a good way, but having a dolly can come in handy for other cars/projects.  For the same $500 or so, you can have a tool that can reused.  Not to mention all the "friends" you will acquire from owning a pickup and tow capability.

Vigo UltimaDork
2/9/18 4:00 p.m.

I've probably used a dolly as much and  would prefer to flat tow.

Can't say i've flat towed as often as i've dollied given that i've owned my dolley for over a decade and probably towed 50 cars with it, but in terms of sheer mileage with the ~5000 miles i've flat towed to the challenge and back (two years), it might be about equal in mileage.  

Having done at least thousands of miles worth of both, i would also prefer to flat-tow. A dolley is a cantankerous contraption that becomes dangerous as soon as any little thing goes wrong, and there is a lot to go wrong. On a tow bar the problems are mostly 'did my E36 M3ty towbar attachment fail', which we solve by trying harder on the install, and 'did my towed vehicle have a tire failure'. Given that your towed vehicle has the same number of tires as a car trailer and i generally trust car tires more than trailer tires, I don't see this as much of a hangup. 

With both tow dolley and tow bar i've gotten into situations where i thought it was easier to disconnect the towed vehicle to reorient than to attempt a 27 pt turn. In all those cases so far my towed vehicle has been a running car anyway, and it's definitely less hassle to do it with a tow bar than a dolley. 

I'll never get rid of my dolley for the sheer variety of what i can tow with it, but if im towing something regularly that has a manual trans i'm probably going to invest the time and small amount of money to mount tow bar brackets to it from here on out. 


914Driver MegaDork
2/9/18 5:53 p.m.

I used to flat tow an X-1/9 with a tow bar right to the body, bitch is you have to swap four tires when you get there.  The universal type Knurled showed are good for picking up an unknown but I wouldn't do it unless you have no remorse about watching it pitch off into the woods.  That's just me...

vwcorvette GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
2/9/18 6:53 p.m.

I flat towed my GTI a bunch of times behind my Astro. I now use a dolly.  Only cause the price was right to buy it.  Only problem with flat towed was coming home in the rain and the gti hydroplaning behind the van cause AX tires! 

Nugi New Reader
2/9/18 7:58 p.m.

Just a warning, if it hasn't been covered already:  autox alignment + autox tires + flat tow = goodbye tires. Use some cheap hard crap to tow with and swap to your soft rubber at the event. I swear it seems to wear worse towing than driving it. 

Disconnecting the axle seems like good insurance if easy enough. 

Carson Dork
2/9/18 11:41 p.m.

IIRC, in NC, if wheels touch the ground it has to be tagged and insured. The only exemption is farm equipment during daylight if you stay off the highway.

Get some Massey Ferguson decals for the Miata?

GTXVette Dork
2/10/18 6:10 a.m.

I have a Rear Axle from a Dodge FWD Van pulled the Springs and all for 35.00 bucks at PaP. to make a Dolly W/Springs .was going to make an angle Iron Box and wood runners. You can Make a Nice one for 100.00 bucks.  Make it with a long Tongue Like a Boat trailer.

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