Towing your 124 Spider behind a motorhome

towing behind motorhome1

ND being towed on a Futura 13′ single-axle lowering trailer

A blog reader asked me to provide some answers to the title question, and not knowing if this subject has ever been covered before, I decided to start my search at various ND Miata forums, and write an article for discussion.   Since our platform is RWD, towing with the front wheels on a dolly, or with a tow bar and all four wheels on the ground (aka flat towed, or 4-down), is generally forbidden.

Manual Transmission

Since the 6-speed manual transmission in the ND has no synchronizer on the countershaft, unlike the previous generation 6-speed manual transmission (NC) which does have one, there is nothing on the rotating output shaft to slosh oil about, so there will not be sufficient lubrication of the internals, as the vehicle is being towed with the rear wheels on the ground, and premature failure would be inevitable.

I have however, seen some discussion that there is evidence that the NC 6-speed manual transmission (which is the one in our 124 Spiders), did indeed lubricate the internals while being flat-towed (or, alternatively, with the front wheels on a dolly), because of a synchronizer on the countershaft that is continuously rotating in the gear oil residing in the bottom of the transmission, throwing oil on the main shaft and tail bushing.  As an example, healeyman discusses his flat tow setup here.  He also has instructions for removing the steering wheel lock on a NC, as well as instructions for fitting a Roadmaster baseplate and brackets on a NC, and my guess is that the 124 Spider is very similar (at least regarding the steering wheel lock).  millsj mentions fitting a baseplate with an intercooler here.

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healeyman has “flat towed a 2012 NC Retractable over 30,000 miles”

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That is good news, since although the housings differ slightly to accommodate the respective engines, Fiat made the wise decision to use the tougher NC-era manual transmission internals in our 124 Spiders, so there is a good possibility (requires further research) that we might be able to “flat tow” the car with a tow bar, even though officially, Fiat maintains that this is NOT an accepted practice.

Automatic Transmission

There is no chance of towing these vehicles with the rear wheels on the ground, if they have an automatic transmission, which leads to the next question:

How can these cars be towed?

One possibility is to pull the vehicle on a dolly, with the rear wheels on deck, and the steering wheel lock disabled.

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Other options include an open car-hauler trailer…

trailered-spider

or an enclosed car-hauler trailer, which tend to be quite large, heavy and involve cumbersome ramps.

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aha4aiconI was pleasantly surprised to discover that Futura makes a single-axle version of their lowering trailer, which seems to be custom-made for our light vehicles, since it has a 2,620 pound load capacity (see the first photo at the beginning of the article).  The trailer can be operated (lowered/raised) via remote control, which is probably necessitated by the fact that you can’t open the car door while the trailer is in the lowered ramp position.  A video on their website implies that, most RV parks will agree that, since no ramps are required, this particular trailer will usually fit in the allocated parking spot, and not be considered a third on-site vehicle, as long as you agree to park your car on it, when returning to your site.

Since it is less than 18′ long, you should be able to park the trailered car in your garage, and yet, retain the ability to drive on and off of it in-place!

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Futura single-axle trailer shown lowered with optional tire rack and stone guard

6 thoughts on “Towing your 124 Spider behind a motorhome

  1. Thank you so much ameridan! You’ve cleared up all of the confusion for me why the ND can’t be towed with a the tow-bar. So there’s a glimmer of hope with my MT Abarth?

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  2. Based on what I’ve read, at your own risk and against official policy, it should not harm your vehicle. Hopefully the intercooler would allow the towbar mount brackets to be installed inconspicuously in the lower grille. It still isn’t clear to me whether the steering wheel should be untethered, or locked into the 12:00 position. Hopefully others with real-life experience will pipe in on flat towing and/or other towing options.

    Personally, I think I’d rather let my wife drive the motorhome (if we had one) and just lead the way driving the car myself 😉

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  3. I have flat towed a couple of cars over the past 12 years owning a Class A motorhome. The steering wheels should be unlocked, otherwise the tires will wear out ridiculously quick. The steering wheels of the towed car should turn as the motorhome turns.

    I would love to tow my 124 Spider four wheels down. Will have to look into it a bit more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What is the trailer shown attached to the Bounder that is hauling the Harley and the Spider? That is exactly the setup I am looking for. I have a Winnebago Vista 35F with a 5,000 lb tow capacity. The bike and car are 3,300 lbs combined, so I need a lite weight trailer.

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