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Project Isuzu VehiCross Part 7: Getting Hitched With Curt Manufacturing

by David Zipf

One of the reasons we bought a VehiCross, on top of its coolness, was the ability to tow another car. See, the VehiCross is not my only car.  I have two others that are both in various states of disrepair and both are in Delaware, where I was born and raised.  Currently, my two real projects are 650 miles from where I make my home in Kentucky and if I ever intend to drive these toys again I will need to get them here and get to wrenching.  Now, we could hire a delivery service to pick up the cars and drag them down here, but that’s a) very expensive, and b) difficult since, while both cars start, they barely run.  Plus, I prefer to be self-sufficient where possible and it is definitely possible we will have to move these cars again once they are here.  So we decided to do the towing ourselves.  This requires us to install a tow hitch, since Isuzu never offered one for the VX.  

For VX’s, there are two hitch options.  One is the Tone hitch, which was made by a former member of a VehiCross forum.  Sadly, that member has since passed away and while a few people make them on occasion, they are fairly rare.  The Tone hitch bolts directly into the rear frame crossmember.  The advantage is it is very simple to install and hides in the bumper making it a discreet and light towing solution.  The downside is there is no warranty and little engineering.  We are planning to max out the VX’s 3,500 lb towing capacity and a hitch snapping off on the highway is about as dangerous a situation as one can encounter.  There is no weight rating associated with the Tone hitch, so we decided to go with the uglier, but safer option from Curt.

 

The Tone hitch installs in the rear crossmember thusly.  A handful of bolts attach a piece of angle iron welded to a hitch receiver.  It is a simple and elegant solution and for light towing, is perfectly acceptable.  But with the amount of weight we are pulling, we wanted to be absolutely sure we would have no hitch problems. Source
That said, the Tone hitch is pretty: when installed properly, it looks just like an Isuzu factory option.  A small amount of the rear bumper cover has to be trimmed away to fit it, but the end result is very discreet.  The appeal is easy to see, but since we want to tow long distance over mountains, we will pick function over form.  Source
Curt’s Class III hitch is rated for 3,500 lbs, which is exactly what the truck itself is rated for.  The Curt hitch attaches to the two frame rails, so it requires long brackets to clear the bumper cover.  
Those mounting brackets are beefy ⅜” thick steel.  The hitch mounts using two existing bolt holes, plus four more the installer has to drill  into the frame rails.
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Comments
Supercharged111
Supercharged111link
Thursday, April 21, 2016 8:52 AM
I take it you've never towed before expecting that much doom and gloom. Fun fact: you don't need to unbolt the driveshaft on a manual car. The sway you felt had nothing to do with weight distribution, rather the slight left to right movement due to the slop in the steering lock.
Randy960
Randy960link
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 6:18 PM
I towed a 240 exactly like that with a dolly (ground clearance issues) and had the same sway issues above about 50. Definitely the slop in the steering rack to blame.
8695Beaters
8695Beaterslink
Wednesday, April 27, 2016 5:18 AM
@supercharged: I have towed, but never with a dolly. Towing this much weight with a VX is very rare and we had no idea how it would turn out. The brakes are way too small for normal driving and heading down the mountains there was a very real chance they would overheat. The transmission is also pretty small (A GM 4L30E which is normally used in large cars like the BMW 7-Series) and we were very worried that we would burn it up pulling all that weight. We were maxing out the towing capacity of the VX, so we wanted to be extra careful that we didn't break this thing. Thankfully our pessimism was unfounded.

The trailer sway when we had the car backwards was probably a mix of weight distribution, steering slop, and the fact that we had a wheel working its way off. It came off less than 100 miles into the trip, so it certainly didn't help with our sway.
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