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Old 03-21-2011, 06:25 PM   #1
aoehero
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'74 El Camino Towing improvements

Hello all,
I was doing some research for a project when I found this site/thread. I am trying to upgrade my 74 El Camino to a tow vehicle. Granted it might be expensive but seeing I have the car it is a good starting point for the project. My end state is to replace the engine, trans, rear gears, and beef the suspension. I would like to use a 5th wheel if possible. My intention is to haul a medium size travel trailer with my Harleys in the back hatch. Reading your post you seem like very experienced people who could give me some realistic advice. Is it possible, and how should I go about it???
sorry to hijack the thread.
Thanks in advance Tom
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Old 03-22-2011, 10:15 AM   #2
jdmccright
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Re: '74 El Camino Towing improvements

FYI, this was moved to it's own thread to split the differing subject matter. Let's not get the masses confused. Didn't know if I should move this to the El Camino forum, but for now I kept it in here out of curiosity. Now, on to the subject at hand:

First off, the towing capacity of the vehicle has nothing to do with what the sticker on the hitch says...well, it does some. The towing capacity of the vehicle is the lower of the two numbers. So, adding a hitch with a 5,000-lb capacity does not raise your car's 3,500-lb rating at all. This rating, the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR - vehicle weight itself plus passengers, gear, fluids, and trailer tongue weight), along with the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR - everything rolling added together), should be used and is usually on a sticker on the driver's door jamb.

Second, a fifth wheel hitch or even a gooseneck is overkill for a 2-Harley trailer...3,500 lbs I'm guessing. A Class-III hitch would be enough. I'll admit, you'd get a "coolness" factor with a gooseneck design trailer, and you'll get more storage for the trailer length but with less maintenance and half the weight of a 5th wheel.

Hunting around, on the elcaminocentral.com forum, a '79 ECs with tow ratings as high as 5,000 lbs using the 305 LG4 motor, auto transmission, and a 2.73 rear with 600 pounds tongue load.

This would require the Class-III hitch, It would also require a heavy duty battery, alternator, and radiator.

I would also suggest (and usually required) you install trailer brakes on anything over 3,000 lbs, an anti-sway kit, a transmission cooler, and load leveling springs or air shocks. These will keep the rig more stable, especially on downhill runs.

If the transmission is due for rebuilding, get it beefed up internally with heavy-duty components. A good trans shop will know the weaknesses of your transmission to address and/or be able to recommend an upgrade to put the power down without burning it up.

Unless the 305 is old and tired, it should be sufficient with some tune up work and the aforementioned cooling upgrades. If not, you have to consider the 350 swap...why not? More power options are available and the fuel economy is similar.

There's more I'm sure, but this should get you thinking in the right direction. Hope this helps!
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Last edited by jdmccright; 03-22-2011 at 10:19 AM. Reason: Added info
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