Back in the summer of '09, I sort of got inspired by Katie Fleming's day-by-day video documentary, "Katie Across the Nation," and decided I needed to get me a Tin Lizzie. So I showed up here for the first time to ask you nice folks what I'd need to know about getting into the Model T hobby. Well, you gave me a good steer and a year later, I not only had a real nice '15 Touring in my garage (with bronze thrust washers, Rocky Mountain Brakes and a flat-tube radiator—'cause that's what you told me to get), I also made a lot of good friends along the way. From the first moment, you all made me feel like I was part of the gang and the advice on both forums has been absolutely indispensable.
Well, now I need your car-buying advice, again. My 15-year-old Olds has about 250,000 miles on the odometer and from all the repair bills, it's starting to look like time to shop around for a new set of wheels. This time, I need something that can pull an open trailer with a Model T on it, so we're talking towing capacity. I'd like this to be as normal a car as possible — an ordinary, American-made family car that gets good mileage, if there is such an animal — if not, then the closest thing to it. And I need it to be super-comfortable 'cause with a replacement knee, two spinal fusions and a couple of pounds of medical titanium in my caboose, that's kind of important.
So, can I get another good steer on a new car?
SUV? Something with a V6 that's got some horses and a towing package. I own an F150 and something like that with a 4 door cab and 2 full seats could work for you but you're not going to get excellent mileage. Cadillac Escalade would be ideal. But they're a touch spendy.
Yeah, maybe kind of SUV with a V-6. They get surprisingly good mileage nowadays and hey, it wouldn't take much to beat my Olds Intrigue's 20-MPG.
I recently rented a big Dodge Grand Caravan to use as a moving van (this being what happens when a close relative asks a favor) and that behemoth got an honest 30-MPG on the interstate. Can't afford a Caddy Escalade and besides, I'd be afraid to park it anywhere. There's gotta be something else.
Athough their trannies are up to the task of only flatland towing, I like minivans, as they're just the right height to step in and out of.
We sold our low-slung XJ-6, partly because it kept getting more difficult to get in and out of. Same goes for a pickup or SUV.
Ford has a terrible track record with underrated parts in their FWD trannies. There's an active recall on our 2004 Monterey for a converter shaft that fails, and it looks like some later models have similar woes. Check http://www.fordforumsonline.com/forum/ before buying a Ford.
In spite of that, I don't much like GM, and I won't buy Jap or Korean, much less ChiCom - even used.
Ralph, there's a lot to the whole weak Ford deal. At 50,000 I lost the transmission on my '04 F150 and had to have it totally rebuilt. When the guy drove it after fixing the transmission he said the rearend was howling to. So he went ahead and rebuilt that too. It was the only time Ive ever purchased an additional warranty that it paid off. I was pretty sure he was ripping off the warranty company by rebuilding the rearend but oh well. He did put a shift kit in the transmission and it still goes down the road at 110,000 miles.
Fords new eco boost v6 engine looks pretty good in the f150s. In the scheme of things, a model t is not a very heavy car. SSomething else to consider is if you are towing an open trailer or a closed trailer as the wind resistance on an enclosed trailer is probably just as important as the weight of the T. The eco boost motor gets 21 mpg and will certainly tow either trailer with your t in it. If your looking at a minivan you likely would need to stick to an open trailer. Also, I'm pretty sure that a V6 truck without a 4x4 package would be realitively low to the ground hence easier to get in and out of.
Take a look at the F150 with a crew cab and ecoboost engine. A friend of mine has one and even with four wheel drive gets low to mid 20s for mileage. With a cap or cover on the bed you will even have enclosed storage space.
My Son-in-law bought a 2010 F150 5.4 2wd and he regularly gets 20-21. He drives mostly on the expressway, but his around town isn't so bad. I wish my Expedition with the 5.4 got around that mileage.
Nah... I won't be able to sell my wife on a pickup. It's gotta look like a car.
My F150 has a 5.4 Triton V8. I get 12 city and 16 highway. I tow my Model Ts behind it on a 14ft single axle trailer and barely feel it behind me.
I use my 2012 Explorer. Towing capacity is 5,000 pounds. Rides like a car and is one of the best cars I have ever had. I get about 23 highway on mine and my brother in law gets 28 on his, go figure.
My friend has a 4 wheel trailer that I can use anytime, so I had the trailer brake package installed by my dealer soon after I purchased the car. Works great.
Very comfortable ride. Not at all like a truck. Plus it's a Ford. ( I have to be honest though. I get the employee discount cuz of my brother in law)
p.s. I also had 2 cervical fusions.
There's a fellow from New Jersey who has a VW Toureg with a V8 engine and he tows a 28 foot enclosed trailer with two cars in it. I saw him at a tour and he had he had an '08 Cadillac Roadster and a '13 Model T Roadster in it and he said the VW Toureg pulls it quite well. I don't know what gas mileage he got though.
I agree with what Nathan said above that you have to consider wind resistance on an enclosed trailer. A flat front enclosed trailer is much harder to pull.
Our 25 foot enclosed trailer has a V nose, but we still only get about 9.5 mpg pulling it with a '26 T Roadster PU in it with our 2003 Chev. Suburban 1500 with the 5.7 V8 engine.
And of course, your mileage may vary.
Dave Hjortnaes - Could you please clarify a couple of things for us.
Is the 23 MPG what you get when pulling the 4 wheel trailer that you borrow from a friend, and is that with what body style Model T on it. Further, is that an open or closed trailer? Also, if the trailer is enclosed, does it have a flat front, V nose, or sloped nose?
May I suggest if you would consider a second vehicle, an older Ford van. They are cheap plentiful and easy to maintain. The reason I suggest them is for what you pay for it you don't have to worry about costs, because it is a second vehicle for odd jobs. Fuel mileage is almost a mute point considering the difference in price between a new and used vehicle. Attached is a picture of one I bought for less than $1000. Over the years I found it to be cheaper to buy repair parts and wearables than a monthly payment on a new one, not to mention insurance. JMHO Wes
Well I have to say that I have towed a bit and my 99 150 Triton 5.4 v-8 does well. I made a trip from Redding Ca. to Salem oregon and back to Albany oregon 380 mile 19 mpg. There was heavy rain wind and tons of traffic. Made a trip to Mansfield, Missouri got 20 to 23 depending on the road and wind and traffic.
JMHO Ford is the word!
The big question is, how much towing experience do you have? Towing is tricky in the beginning just getting used to the wide turning trail. Then it becomes very easy, until some little thing goes wrong. The size and weight of your tow-rig relative to the size and weight of the trailer makes a big difference on how well one will control the other.
How do you get that kind of mileage? I have a 2001 Expedition with the 5.4 Triton and I think I only get about 14mpg. It is the only modern vehicle we have. Two round trips to Eureka for Thanksgiving this year hurt!
We got it when we still had the '15 Studebaker big six cylinder. The Stude weighed in at nearly 3500 pounds plus our 1800 pound trailer. I don't need the size anymore, but am stuck with the Expedition until it dies due to a weird electrical problem that can shut the engine down with only a few seconds warning. I cannot sell it without disclosing the problem, and once disclosed, I don't think anyone would give much for it.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
I think I got 18mpg when I towed the speedster to Detroit on Meinholz's open trailer. This is an open trailer with 3 foot wooden sides on it. Not as open as the one in the picture above with the Depot Hack.
Dave - Thanks for the info. 18 mpg towing a T as you did is very good! I wish I could get that much.
For those who don't know, Dave was towing his Model T Speedster to Detroit & it's a pretty light car.
Thanks again, Dave.
I have a 2004 Monte Carlo that I've owned since 2005. Bought it with 15K on the odom and it now has 170K+
I have regularly hauled 500-1000 lbs of mill chain and sprockets in that thing, most of it in the trunk directly over the rear axle.
This car has been used and abused and driven much harder than any passenger car should ever have been.
It is comfortable, gets close to 28 mpg on the highway and I wouldn't hesitate to haul a model T on a smaller, single axle trailer with it.
Just my two cents.
It seems with a single axle trailer you are just one flat tire away from disaster. Plenty of people here have told their tales of woe with new ChiCom trailer tires. Fortunately, I think all of them were on tandems.
Definitely a good point, Ralph.
A flat or blowout with a single axle trailer isn't fun but I've had 2 over the years and neither was dramatic. The first was at about 45 or 50 as merging onto a freeway and towing a 20's touring behind a Chevy S-10. One of the cheapo passenger car type tires that were on the trailer threw it's belt. No control issues in easing to a stop. My fault for using the cheap tires that came on the trailer.
The second instance was a blowout was when towing with a Chevy 1500 with a slip in camper and a 26 coupe on the trailer. I was cruising on I-90 in Montana at about 60 or a bit more, nothing dramatic then either. I had proper trailer rated tires but they were several years old and had some cracks in the tread gaps that I hadn't noticed. The tires had lived outside with no protection and Even though there was lot's of tread, they were shot.
The lighter the tow vehicle the more likely that it will get exciting. With a reasonable tow vehicle, properly balanced load and reasonable speeds, a blowout should be inconvenient but not disastrous. I much prefer towing with a real pickup rather than the S-10 but it served me well for about 10 years.
Most ‘cars’ of today are just not up to the task of taking anything more than a landscape trailer.
Surprise of surprises and you guys will howl…but they do make a Class 3 style hitch for the Saturn Vue or whatever is left of it in the GM other line-up. It’s Class 3 by design because that is the only way to hook anything up on something like that without tearing the whole back end out when accelerating with the other Class hitches.
The frame and cross supports are all pre-tapped for it, yet GM has never mentioned it as doable. The youngest son uses it to tug a ’45 MB Jeep on a single trailer because he doesn’t like our regular car mover. Granted, in South Jersey it is near flat as glass. He says he needs the MPG for his daily commute of 45 miles each way, something to ‘tug’ when he wants to and this combo works for him and something for when it needs parts is cheap.
Speaking of car mover…alas “Rainbow Truck” the early 70’s F-250 with the F-600 rear and not one piece of body tin that matches, (Hence Rainbow Truck) has gone to a new home The 34’ Ft. trailer built to handle 2 T’s went to another home. Loved that era F-series….50 bucks fixes anything!
But all is not lost, the new car mover is equally not a fashion statement but might be interesting, and it does have a good solid Class 3 on the back so a new trailer will probably be on the horizon for the summer. It also has a good strong 460 manual with power winch. MPG will probably be in the toilet...but we only do use it local.
Yeah that era kind of grows on you once you have one
Sounds like your geared towards a car...
If I was hunting a good tow vehicle in the car line I would go with a good one owner Crown Vic, or Lincoln town car, for your comfort requirements plus they have plenty grunt for towing a T. You can usually find these low mile cars for sale that some old lady has parked in the carport for most of its life. The town cars already have air ride load levelars from the factory so the bumper wouldn't be dragging the ground while towing, I would suggest a trailer with brakes for sure, that's just good safety sense no matter what you tow with.... The big sedans will get just as good gas mileage as any truck and maybe even better on flat ground towing, but keep in mind once you hook a trailer to anything the MPG goes south..!
Our former XJ-6 got 22 or better on road, 15.5 towing the T on all fours. That requires an aux tranny with neutral, but is more stable and economical than any trailer. That also means no tongue weight, and minimum towed weight. An aux tranny requires wheel brakes, which you can actuate with a Brake Buddy.
The money you put into a trailer, you could put into aux tranny and wheel brakes for your T, which you get use of all the time, rather than have to store a trailer for most of the year. You can also use a lighter tow vehicle, which will save money on your daily drive.
My next vehicle will be a Ford Explorer. Should do a good job with an open T trailer. Check it out.
Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagons are a popular tow vehicle with some of the guys in the Horseless Carriage Club in my area, especially the 1994, 1995 and 1996 models (they have the iron head version of the high performance 5.7L LT1 Corvette engine). One fellow says that the low profile and handling of the wagon makes it a superior tow vehicle to his SUV.
My parents have a 1996 Estate Wagon so I can vouch that it has both comfort and a motor with lots of guts and is a great car for traveling, swap meets and hauling the occasional large item. I've used it only twice for trailer towing a Model T so my experience is limited in that department.
Here are a couple for sale on Craigslist in your area:
1994-96 Buick Roadmaster sedans are also plentiful and have the same Corvette engine.
I use a Dodge diesel pickup to tow my enclosed homemade car trailer. It was built with a slant front and also V nose. All goes well until I pass an 18 wheeler or they pass me.
The tow vehicle is heavy enough to not need load levelers, but they really help to stabilize the load along with an anti-sway bar. One also needs to position the T to get the correct tongue weight to achieve good stability.(more to front or rear of trailer)
Also, the diesel fuel cost is higher than gas, but I get 18+ MPG towing the the trailer loaded.
OH, I forgot, electric brakes on both trailer axles. This really helps stop in an emergency.
WATCH OUT YOUR TOW SPEED MODEL T'S ARE NOT MEANT FOR 65MPH!!!!
Just look at the past thread of the T that went to Hersey on an open trailer and the windshield was in the driver’s SEAT!!!!
The first sentence in caps on purpose to attract attention.
That's right, Andrew; I don't tow mine over 60.
Andrew, lots of things can get air-born at a high speed. Seat cushions and floor boards are just a few of the common lost items.
That is why I have a closed trailer and it also doubles as a luggage carrier.
Two things to remember on any trailer--single our tandem axle.
First, always have a good spare.
Second, Have a jack that will fit under the axle when a tire is flat.
Bob, don''t be afraid of a single axle trailer. Mine tows just great with my touring car on it. The trailer is designed to tow 3500 lbs. My T doesn't come anywhere near that. Hell it probably doesn't go half that. If your going to go through life scared to death of what might happen then stay off the roads because it's a jungle out there. I guess if you really want to worry about it your best bet is to get a truck with a 53 ft van trailer. Are you aware of how many single axle boat trailers are out there with boats that outweigh your Model T? Thousands of them. And do you know all of the scary things these guys are listing that could happen won't if you maintain your trailer and use your head when towing your T? Christ I don't know how some of these guys get the guts to get out of bed in the morning. BOO!!!!!
The Caprice or Roadmaster wagon would be a great choice, but the newest one is over 16 years old. I've owned 3 wagons and 2 sedans, and they're great cars, but finding one that isn't rusty and worn out is getting to be a challenge.
I think a police package Crown Victoria would be a good choice.
Excellent choice Derek. And they're really not that hard to find. Lot's of torque and heavy enough to be perfect. And the mileage should be great. Perfect choice Derek.
I've been towing single and tandem axle trailers and right now I haul a tandem dump. I’ve been using a 4.8 ltr Silverado and have hauled many loads over the years and the 4.8 with the tow package works like a dream. It's great on gas to. I know you don't like a pick up so I'd suggest maybe looking at a 4.8 in a suv. They will have the room as well as comfort and if you find them a bit high you can have running boards installed. That’s what my 78 yr old father in law did. My last three were made in the USA as well.
I don't know if you saw my dad's '96 Buick wagon at Cameron's swap meet. It has 100K miles and so far no rust problems (and we're located in the Twin Cities so it's seen its fair share of salt). We were selling a set of demountable wheels.
When my mom goes shopping, people have left notes on the car in the grocery store parking lot inquiring if it's for sale.
I look for Roadmaster Wagons on Minneapolis Craigslist on a regular basis and there are some that show up with 100K miles or less. There was a '94 wagon listed recently that had around 40K miles.
An old guy I know was asking $6K for one of those wagons last year with well over 200K miles, and I think he got close to that.
Seems like those are most often seen towing an Airstream trailer.
A disadvantage to an open trailer: I was driving along and was passed; some one evidently threw out a cigarette. It caught the original horse hair seat material on fire, and the loss of my T.
Most of the time, I use an enclosed trailer and pull it with an 2004 F-250. I special ordered it with a V-10 and 6 speed standard transmission. I can’t say enough good things about this truck. The only time I use an open trailer is going to Hershey with my 68 F-250 Arrow Motor home. I tow a T behind it to drive around Hershey after hours. I use a landscape trailer. The only problem with the landscape trailer is I wasn’t able to get enough tongue weight. I bolted a 14 block onto the front of the trailer. That works out perfect. I don’t have enough space at Hershey to use my enclosed trailer.
Mike G. & Wes N.
My question: looks well balanced using a single axle trailer but do you have an idea what your tongue weight is?
It works out pretty good for younger weight. At 70 mph there's no sway. But then the axle on my trailer sets back far enough to where I don't know if I could load it and not have tongue weight. One thing I really like about my trailer is the drop down rear mesh ramp. It goes full width across the back so I'm not worrying about 2 separate narrow ramps. I had a 20 ft enclosed trailer with a beaver tail. What a gas burner that thing was. It had the electric brakes and tie down mounts and equalizer hitch and two 5000 lb axles and I hated it. When I split from the old lady I made sure that pig stayed with her.