NC68Riviera

Car Trailer Size Recommendations

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I have been contemplating buying a car trailer for transporting the Aqua Zephyr to out of state shows. I now have a pickup truck that can handle pulling a 3000#ish trailer and 4400# car so that is not an obstacle.

 

I want to throw these questions out to the forum members:

What size (length and width, # of axles) car trailer do you own/use?

 

Do you own/use a covered or uncovered trailer?

 

Do you tie down your car on/in your trailer when towing the vehicle?

 

I know someone is going to be tempted to answer, "You don't need a trailer, drive it everywhere!" I'd rather not get those responses, if you please! :-)

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First, absolutely you tie down the car on or in the trailer BEFORE you move the trailer. Period. I have seen damage on cars that were properly tied down on and in trailers, so you need to stop about every hour on the road and check your tie down straps. Maybe more often until you get used to the way the car needs to be tied down. May have to make adjustments until you get it right.

There are pros and cons to both open and enclosed trailers. I have pulled each type for a lot of miles.

Let's start with specifics about your car. First, it is a BIG car. In an enclosed trailer, you will not be able to open the doors to get in and out. Doors are too long, car is too wide, so plan on going in and out the window each time. No matter how skinny you are, you can't fit between the door and the jamb with the door open against the side of the trailer. Doors are just too thick. Most states have regulations on trailer width, so you can't just get a wider trailer. May not be able to go front to back inside the trailer with the car inside, so make sure there is a door in the front of the trailer for access. But security on the road and in weather is there in an enclosed trailer.

Some of the same applies to an open trailer. This is a wide car, so getting the doors open past the fenders of the trailer when loaded could be an issue. There are newer trailers with drop down fenders and tilting retractable beds that make this lesser of an issue, but they cost more up front. If you get an open trailer, get one with a deflector on the front. This will keep rock chips off the front of your car better. An open trailer has no protection overnight in a motel parking lot or against the weather.

Storage is an issue with any trailer. You may have lots of room, but people like to steal trailers. An empty enclosed trailer can still get lots of expensive damage from someone breaking in just to discover it is empty.

Arrive at a couple of shows early. See what other guys are using. If you find something you like, maybe ask if you can put your car up on it to see how it fits. People are just as friendly before the show starts as they are during it.

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I used to have a 26' enclosed trailer that I had built to my specifications back in 2001.  My first purchase was an open trailer and I used it to haul my 69 from Massachusetts to Wisconsin for the ROA meet at Lake Geneva.  It poured rain the entire trip to the meet which required a full day of cleaning to get the car presentable.  As soon as I got home I sold it and ordered the enclosed trailer.  I sold the enclosed trailer to a friend 2 years ago and he is very happy with it.

It had a "V" nose for better aerodynamics with a front ramp door on one side of the vee, a side door and a beaver tail for easier loading.  It had twin axles with electric brakes.  Just about every car hauler has electric brakes with a "breakaway" brake feature that automatically engages if the trailer separates from the tow vehicle.  I also specified marine grade plywood for the deck.  You definitely have to tie a vehicle down while trailering.  I had 8 "D" rings installed so that I would have options for tying a car down depending on the size of the vehicle.  Loading the trailer properly is the key to a safe journey.  You want to distribute the weight evenly over the axles.  You don't want excessive weight at the tongue or at the tail.  If you go with an enclosed unit, make sure it has some interior lighting and a couple of roof vents that you can open and close for ventilation.  Make sure the tow vehicle has a receiver that is rated properly for the weight you intend to pull and use a "solid mount" ball assembly.

One time I was at a show and a hail storm came through.  I was able to leave the show field and put the car in the trailer before damage could occur.  The roof of the trailer which was aluminum, looked like the surface of the moon after the storm.  Better the trailer than the car.  My insurance company totaled it out and I bought it back for $100!   

There are numerous manufacturers that make car haulers and some are better than others so do your homework.

Edited by Pat Curran
update content (see edit history)
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I've had an enclosed Wells Cargo trailer for taking my cars out on the road to far away shows for 25 years. It's a 1993

model that I bought new. DO NOT buy an open car trailer.........you will get more damage from rocks than you would if you

drove the car, and if you have a blow out on one of your trailer tires (and you WILL have blowouts) your car could have the whole

side torn up (ask me how I know) I change out the tires on my car hauler every three years, and I've still had a few blowouts. The worst

one destroyed the right fender and a six foot section of the side wall on my trailer that I had to have repaired under my insurance policy on my trailer, but the car inside was safe and sound. I've had some friends who got caught in hail storms trailering their car and their enclosed trailer saved their car from being destroyed. What you need for your car is an enclosed trailer with 24 foot length inside the trailer, and with the Riviera you will need to get the extra wide version(just buy the widest one they offer) You need to have a side door

on the right front, and an escape door in the middle of the left side so you can get in and out of the car. On my Wells Cargo trailer, the original plywood floor was not high enough for the car's door to clear the top of the fenders on the trailer so I could open the door on my car to get out, so I screwed a stack of 2x8 pieces of lumber to the floor of my trailer where the tires on my car run to raise the floor

so I could just open my car door all the way through the escape door on my trailer and hop out. These raised runners also make it

much easier to slip under the car to tie it down. I added it up and I figure my Wells Cargo trailer has about 125,000 miles on it. It's

been all over the United States.......best investment I ever made.

 

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Thanks all for the excellent comments and recommendations!

 

You guys (and gals, in some cases) are the best!

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If I was going to get an enclosed trailer I would probably spec four flush mount lights in the deck just inside the wheel track.

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Go to the home AACA forum - Garages, Trailering and Towing forum and spend a few hours searching and reading. Tons of info there.

 

Much depends on your car and how much you plan to transport and show. My opinion varies from the others but keep in mind this is just PERSONAL preference and I'm not saying my opinion is best for you. Just food for thought in making your decision.

I have towed trailers umpteen thousands of miles over the years both enclosed and open. I bought an enclosed for myself when the 66 resto was completed. Used it twice and I said "SCREW THIS" and sold it so I never had temptation to trailer a car enclosed again. I hated it and its just not for me. Looks glamorous but its anything but. I submit that enclosed trailers are awesome for protecting car in bad weather and security at night but that's it.....forgot also great for your relatives and friends to borrow when moving! They suck for hauling, loading, unloading, and maneuvering in tight spots like gas stations and hotel parking lots, etc. Open is so much easier because you can use a shorter trailer and have greater visibility, plus they are lighter. Much has been discussed about having an escape door on enclosed trailer but those are useless unless the car door opens over the fender well inside. Plan on squeezing out the window unless you do like Winston did and put 2x8s on the floor.

 

Also keep in mind many show cars have been damaged during the loading and unloading process. This is more prevalent with the less experienced haulers but I have seen even experienced make a mistake. Its a bit of a misconception that a car hauled to a show on a trailer is much less likely to get damaged than one driving. There isn't much margin for error in the hauling process.

 

You can get great deals on a used trailer if you are patient. There's a lot of new manufacturers out there that advertise on CL and are cheap but you get what you pay for so watch quality.  If going open, as Steelman said A Riv door is going to hit the fender so try to find one with fold down fenders. If not just carry a compact floor jack to raise frame a couple inches in order to open door.

Open trailer you can get by with a 16' min but an 18' gives a little more room. Enclosed you need min 22' and 24 is probably most common. I still have a 16' open with a wood floor. I like the wood floor because I can haul anything on it and it doesn't slide around. If strictly buying for open car hauling I'd find a used Featherlight brand. Very superior and will last many years.

 

Peace

 

 

Edited by JZRIV (see edit history)
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                           I'll touch on a couple of points brought up by Jason Zerbini........

I've found that an enclosed trailer is easy to maneuver as long as you are using a truck with

a relatively short wheelbase to tow it. It is indeed a nightmare if you are towing it with a crew

cab long bed pickup, which is the tow vehicle most people tend to use. I used to tow mine with a

short bed regular cab Silverado. I am currently using a Ford Expedition, which has a fairly short wheelbase.

With the Expedition I can whip a U-turn at an intersection no problem at all. As far as damaging the car loading

and unloading, this can only happen if the car isn't centered when entering the trailer. To center it is simple......

First drive up to the trailer , then hop out and go inside the trailer and put your head against the left inside wall of the

trailer while facing the car, close your right eye and make a note of the distance between the left rear of the car and the

entrance to the trailer. Now go over to the other side of the trailer directly across from where you were standing and put

the left side of your head against the wall, close your left eye and note the distance between the right rear of the car and the

edge of the entrance to the trailer. If the two gaps aren't even, move the back of the car accordingly. As for the front of the car,

mark a center line on the ramp door so you can line up the center of the bumper to it each time. Once you are centered, merely get

in the car and drive it straight in. I installed very tall stops on my raised 2x8 boards on the floor so I can just drive the car straight in

till it hits the stops. When installing the stops, you want to experiment so that you put them in the right place so that your car door

will be lined up to open fully through the escape door opening on the trailer. With an enclosed trailer, nobody knows what is inside your trailer when you park it at night, your car is protected from rain and hail and flying rocks, etc. It is a no brainer if you have

a very nice car you are trying to protect from getting damaged while traveling cross country. It is much more difficult to center your car on an open trailer because there is no wall you can put your head against to eyeball the back  of the car, and those typical

narrow individual ramps on open trailers can get you in trouble in a hurry, and if it's raining, you can forget loading an open trailer ....it is impossible. One other thing......the big national meets that you bought the trailer for take place in the summertime with the sun bearing down on your car and 100 degree temps. With an open

trailer you wind up exposing the interior of your car to this for a solid week, baking your dash pad, fading

your carpets, etc. With an enclosed trailer you have your own portable garage and the car is sitting in darkness when not being shown or used.

 

Edited by Seafoam65 (see edit history)
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I'm kinda thinking one could hire a professional car hauler to deliver a car to the few distant meets and come out way ahead if you looked at all the costs.

 

And aggravation- I am remembering the story of a friend riding down the hill to the Ashville Biltmore backwards with the trailer in the lead, toy inside.

 

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Bernie makes a good point.........you need to be a skilled driver to safely handle towing a trailer

that weighs 7800 lbs.  I don't doubt that some people shouldn't be doing it. I have crazy friends who

like to pull their enclosed car hauler at 75-80 miles per hour......60-65 works for me.

 

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Seems everyone is forgetting the most important part of trailering ,,,  cause any moron can drag a trailer around forward ,,, BUT CAN YOU BACK IT UP !  Go out in live traffic and make a mistake that requires you to navigate a trailer backwards ,,, that’s what truely separates those who should be trailering and those that should just call a flatbed or a pro . 

I know that’s not the question at hand , but it goes along with the question asked . I have a nice 18 foot all aluminum open trailer that has a 2 - 5000 Lb axles under it and tows like a dream . I tuck it under a low roofline on our shed and don’t even know it’s there . Windy days don’t bother me like a big enclosed trailer deals with too .  Only wish I had bought a trailer 20 years ago ... they are getting pricey with the tariffs levied now !!!!

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I've never observed rock damage with towing my open trailer; granted I employ large mud flaps on the tow vehicle.  As long as it's not raining the show car always arrives clean, and definitely much cleaner than if it were driven.  Anecdotally, it seems that enclosed trailers have a much higher theft rate than opens; crooks want the trailer, not necessarily what's inside.  Not only are opens easier to maneuver, they afford much easier access to tying down the car.  The earlier Rivs are large cars, and I've seen no shortage of examples here and on the road of people transporting such a car on too short of a trailer (i.e., with the nose of the car at the forward edge of the trailer).  This virtually guarantees that your tongue weight is exceeded.  Hence, a trailer longer than the typical U-Haul rental trailer is required.

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If I was going to buy a trailer I would look at private owner used sales. I have a feeling it is a lot like buying used exercise equipment- used once or twice and then kind of sits around in the way.

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