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Open Roads Forum  >  Dinghy Towing  >  General Topics

 > Towing Older VW Beetle

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Olive Dog

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Posted: 08/31/21 04:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Any suggestions for towing a 1973 VW Bug?

What type of brake system should I get or do I need one.

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Posted: 08/31/21 05:08pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Here is a thread from 2008; Flat towing a classic VW Beetle (circa 78)


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Posted: 08/31/21 07:45pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The thread mentioned above has good info regarding the tow bar. You can still get one for about $200, and it connects without a base plate. As for a braking system, the car is less than 2000 lbs. It would still be nice to have a braking system but I doubt one exists that would even work with this car. The brake pedal comes up out of the floor instead being mounted to the firewall. They have a very long pedal travel, no power assist like nearly every other car that toad braking systems are designed for, and old VWs generally have terrible brakes anyway. If anyone has successfully used a supplemental braking system with an air-cooled VW it would be interesting to hear about it.

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Posted: 09/01/21 05:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

My choice would be a Featherlite model 3182, 16-foot trailer.


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Posted: 09/01/21 08:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You can purchase a tow bar for less than $200. The mounting will be different for a regular beetle vs. a super beetle. I already had a tow bar so I made a plate that bolts to the bottom of my '78 Super Beetle. I did not install a braking system because the bug is quite light weight and my 24 ft. class C handles it well.


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Posted: 09/01/21 08:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

One question no one has asked. It IS a 4 speed I hope. VW had a auto stick shift back then.


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Posted: 09/01/21 12:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We had one like this. Bug Tow Bar

It connects to the axle which requires lying on the ground, does not fold up and has to be removed for driving the car. It becomes a PITA very quick.

Some states require a aux brake.


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Posted: 09/01/21 08:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

CA Traveler wrote:

We had one like this. Bug Tow Bar

It connects to the axle which requires lying on the ground, does not fold up and has to be removed for driving the car. It becomes a PITA very quick.

Some states require a aux brake.


ALL states, AFAIK, have a Braking Performance Law. So does the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). If you can not stop your rig within the parameters of the law, you must have an auxiliary braking system. If you can stop within the parameters, you do not need the braking system. I do not know of any state that requires auxiliary braking on a towed motor vehicle. Trailers, yes, above a certain weight (that weight may be GVWR or the actual trailer weight). In many states, a motor vehicle designed to carry passengers is not legally a trailer. Check the legal definitions for your state.
I do not know of any third party testing having been done on aux. braking systems. No CR, UL, Good Housekeeping, none.
The law, of course does not address morality or physics. It only addresses safety.
Do your own research. Good luck.


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Posted: 09/02/21 05:33am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

mowermech wrote:



ALL states, AFAIK, have a Braking Performance Law. So does the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). If you can not stop your rig within the parameters of the law, you must have an auxiliary braking system. If you can stop within the parameters, you do not need the braking system. I do not know of any state that requires auxiliary braking on a towed motor vehicle. Trailers, yes, above a certain weight (that weight may be GVWR or the actual trailer weight). In many states, a motor vehicle designed to carry passengers is not legally a trailer. Check the legal definitions for your state.
I do not know of any third party testing having been done on aux. braking systems. No CR, UL, Good Housekeeping, none.
The law, of course does not address morality or physics. It only addresses safety.
Do your own research. Good luck.


How can a law address safety without taking physics into account?
When you increase weight without changing the braking laws of physics means you will increase time/distance needed to stop from the same speed. I think that might be a safety issue, no matter what the law says.
I know RVs are often exempt from laws that apply to CMVs, and even the laws that do apply are unlikely to be enforced. On CMVs, any axle that does not have working brakes is not counted as a load carrying axle. A guy I worked with loaded his short end-dump to what was legal to bridge, then hooked up his TT. He did not know the fuse to the brake controller mounted on TT was blown. With brakes on the TT, good at 80,000. Same axles on long trailer, good at 80. He was grossing about 77,000 and not counting the TT was legal for 70,000. $635.00 plus court cost.
The brake system for any vehicle, including MH, is designed to stop the GVWR of that vehicle, with a reserve for safety. If when you hang a toad on it, the GCVW is more than GVWR you are riding in that reserve.

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Posted: 09/02/21 07:55am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JRscooby wrote:

mowermech wrote:



ALL states, AFAIK, have a Braking Performance Law. So does the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). If you can not stop your rig within the parameters of the law, you must have an auxiliary braking system. If you can stop within the parameters, you do not need the braking system. I do not know of any state that requires auxiliary braking on a towed motor vehicle. Trailers, yes, above a certain weight (that weight may be GVWR or the actual trailer weight). In many states, a motor vehicle designed to carry passengers is not legally a trailer. Check the legal definitions for your state.
I do not know of any third party testing having been done on aux. braking systems. No CR, UL, Good Housekeeping, none.
The law, of course does not address morality or physics. It only addresses safety.
Do your own research. Good luck.


How can a law address safety without taking physics into account?
When you increase weight without changing the braking laws of physics means you will increase time/distance needed to stop from the same speed. I think that might be a safety issue, no matter what the law says.
I know RVs are often exempt from laws that apply to CMVs, and even the laws that do apply are unlikely to be enforced. On CMVs, any axle that does not have working brakes is not counted as a load carrying axle. A guy I worked with loaded his short end-dump to what was legal to bridge, then hooked up his TT. He did not know the fuse to the brake controller mounted on TT was blown. With brakes on the TT, good at 80,000. Same axles on long trailer, good at 80. He was grossing about 77,000 and not counting the TT was legal for 70,000. $635.00 plus court cost.
The brake system for any vehicle, including MH, is designed to stop the GVWR of that vehicle, with a reserve for safety. If when you hang a toad on it, the GCVW is more than GVWR you are riding in that reserve.


You missed the point of the post. Do you really believe that those who pass laws know anything about physics? Many of them are over-educated fools who forgot about those classes long ago, IMO. The fact remains, there are NO laws on the books in most (possibly all) states that require brakes on a towed motor vehicle designed to carry passengers! There IS, however, a Braking Performance Law (here in Montana it is 61-9-312) that requires a vehicle to be able to stop within certain parameters. In most states it pretty much matches the requirements in the FMVSS. Morality, physics, and "I will sue you!" makes for interesting conversation, but it does not change the requirements of the law!

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