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How to Find a Tow Rating for an Old Car

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by parkwood60, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. parkwood60
    Joined: May 4, 2004
    Posts: 158

    parkwood60
    Member

    Hey guys,

    So I am getting my 1960 Chevy Wagon back on the road, and I want to use it to tow the 24 Hours of Lemons car I have. The question is, what was the suggested maximum tow rating for a 1960 Chevy passenger car? I know with the current 350 and updated transmission it can tow more than it could have with the original 283, but I don't want to be hauling 6000lbs if the frame the hitch is attached to was never meant to pull that much.

    Does anyone know someplace online, or a vintage publication that listed this info every year for new cars?

    And yes, I will be upgrading to disc brakes in front.
     
  2. gas pumper
    Joined: Aug 13, 2007
    Posts: 2,957

    gas pumper
    Member

    I really don't think there is official data for the old cars like there is now. Common sense told you what could be accomplished.

    And most everybody overdid it, loaded with more weight, towed heavy stuff, and survived. And no trailer brakes. And drums on the car. Just drove accordinly.

    I would not hesitate to flat tow your race car, or open trailer it, or even an enclosed trailer. In the early 60's even the touring drag racers towed with station wagons.
     
  3. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,307

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    Given the coil spring suspension on your Chevy, I would recommend you seriously consider a stout frame bracket and use an equalizer style hitch. That reduces the tongue weight and does what it's name implies.

    Another major consideration is the wheel/tire combo on the rear of the car. The engine power and transmission/rear axle gearing is only a start on the list of items needed to tow safely with any passenger car. No disrespect intended, as I like the '60 Chevys, but as I said above, their original rear suspension isn't ideal for this task, so please make the upgrades needed to save yourself some potential grief.

    Ray
     
  4. Cerberus
    Joined: May 24, 2010
    Posts: 1,392

    Cerberus
    Member

    There are a lot of variables to factor in to determine max tow capacity. Some are: type of trans, rearend axle ratio, tires, type of tow hitch, cooling upgrades, tounge weight, gross vehicle weight, gross combination weight rating, brake upgrades, the trailer has its own brakes, etc.
    If your '60 El Camino has a 350 v8, TH350 trans, 3.23 rear axle ratio or numerically higher, receiver hitch tied into frame, and a trailer tounge weight less than 500 pounds, the maximum tow capacity/trailering ability should be up to 4700 lbs, on the safe side.
    The "rule of thumb" in maximum tow capacity of a vehicle with the right equipment is: subtract the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) from the Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) and that is the vehicles maximum tow capacity.
    Now as far as getting the info on your '60 El Camino, GM back then did consider the El Camino to be a 1/2-ton truck. On some trucks, depending on the year, the weight ratings are posted on the door jamb and possibly in the owner's manual.
     

  5. parkwood60
    Joined: May 4, 2004
    Posts: 158

    parkwood60
    Member

    Only problem is that its not an Elco, its a station wagon.

    I'm not planning on going nuts. The car weighs about 2500lbs and the heaviest open trailer (that would be one from Uhaul) is only 1900lbs. Now how do I prove to Uhaul that its okay to tow with this car?
     
  6. Simple. You borrow a buddy's F150 to pick up the trailer, and tell U-Haul you are towing a 1985 Tercel with it.
     
  7. parkwood60
    Joined: May 4, 2004
    Posts: 158

    parkwood60
    Member

    You know as soon as I posted that last comment I though "wait a minute, Uhaul has been around since WWII, I wonder how far back their database goes" The answer is far enough. According to their reservation system I am A-Okay to tow a car trailer with this car.

    I knew the wagon could technically pull something like this, I was just wondering if I was going to run into trouble trying to rent a trailer with it. Awesome, now onto the new windshield and disc brake swap.
     
  8. 2manytoys
    Joined: Feb 24, 2009
    Posts: 225

    2manytoys
    Member
    from Fresno

    The problem is (at least in the state of Ca.) you can't legally tow more than the factory rating of the vehicle, trailer and load GCVW (gross combined vehicle weight). It is not what you have done to improve the tow capacity of the tow vehicle but the legal system in case of some sort of accident. In a case where there is severe injury or death there will be an investigation and if they find you were towing beyond the GCVW rating you can be found liable even if the accident was not your fault (contributing factor). It is difficult to find the information you are looking for on an older vehicle. I believe it was in the mid 90's that GCVW stickers were put on trucks and cars. I can't even find info on GCVW on my 94 F-150. I have often towed up to 9500 lbs with my 1/2 ton. Even if you have upgraded the tow vehicle you can only tow up to factory ratings. This information on tow ratings was given to me by the local CHP vehicle code officer . A lot of this discussion is on the RV forums. A lot of RVs on 1 and a half ton chassis are only limited to 1000lbs. Both my RVs on chevy P30 and P60 chassis are rated at 1000lbs yet how many RVs pull boats to the lakes on weekends (including myself).
     
  9. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,307

    Hnstray
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Quincy, IL

    California really IS different. I never gave any thought to the notion the rental place would have any concern about weight ratings. That is unheard of in the Midwest in my experience.

    I do understand how a case could be made against an operator in an accident scenario though.

    Just glad I have my own rig with plenty of capacity.

    Ray
     
  10. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 9,115

    mgtstumpy
    Member

    Laws down under would be similar as to capacity with old cars. I wouldn't mind installing a hitch on my '46 Olds but won't be towing anything heavy. After I took the body off the chassis I saw that the rear frame rails are only open 'C' channel and not really that strong IMHO. Only a couple of body bolts on each side and not sufficient in my book. I'll box rear rails and over engineer it within reason for peace of mind. I know of a car like mine already with a hitch that may only need slight modification.
     
  11. WDobos
    Joined: Jan 7, 2007
    Posts: 235

    WDobos
    Member

    Use 60 sedan delivery springs on the rear. They are the heaviest one that fit. I also used rear shocks with overloaders for a 74 Cadillac CP. I use to tow our 25' Colman camping trailer all the time with no problems. I know I have the NAPA part number for the shocks down in my shop,I'd have to look to see if I have the spring number. If your frame isn't the boxed tube type in the back you will need to box the frame in the back.
    Keeper of a 60 SDL for 41years
     

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