Towing a Dinghy

dinghy
My Mini Cooper can now be towed!

When RVers tow their car behind their RV, they call the car either their “toad” or their “dinghy”.

Today was the first time that I’ve ever towed anything behind any vehicle.  Towing the Cooper behind the RV is the challenge that has most concerned me about this crazy idea all along.  I’ve been kind of worried that it will be too scary for me to manage.

I am not someone who scares easily.   If you know me at all, you know that I’m not the timid type. I’ve been driving for over 45 years, and my initiation was on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn when I was 16 years old.  I owned a motorcycle when I was 19.  I’m a confident and, when it’s necessary, an aggressive driver.  But the thought of towing a car behind the RV just makes me scared.

The first time I ever drove a vehicle that was anywhere near 26 feet long was the day I bought the Freelander.  I drove it for two hours that day, and my hands were grasping the steering wheel so tightly that my carpal tunnel kicked in and both hands went numb.  And now I have to add a car behind it.

My original plan was to tow my Mazda Miata behind the RV.  I envisioned adding a hitch to the RV, and then some sort of a chain going to the Miata so I could pull it along.  I had NO IDEA what was involved in actually preparing the RV to tow a car, and preparing the car to be towed.  As it turned out, I learned that the Miata could not be towed four wheels down, and so I had to replace it with a vehicle which could.  The whole process of figuring out which vehicles could be towed was NOT straightforward.  I wanted a convertible (because the thought of cruising around all of the beautiful places across the country in an enclosed car just makes me sad) and a stick shift, and had to find the right car through trial and error.  I ended up trading my Miata in for a 2008 Mini Cooper Convertible – it’s a cute little car and fun to drive, but it doesn’t compare to the “zoom-zoom” of the Miata.

chris-and-cooper
This is me and my Mini the first day we were together!

Anyway, it’s a really big deal to modify the car so it can be towed.  It involves a lot of electrical wiring so that when you brake or engage the turn signals in the RV, the tow vehicle also brakes and displays the turn signals.  A significant amount of hardware is added to the front of the car so it can be attached to the RV.  It cost about $3,500 to have all of this installed.  Now I just have to hope that the Cooper lasts as long as I need it to – if I ever had to change cars, all of the work would have to be done again for another car.

But it was quite a feeling to drive home from the shop with the RV towing the car, realizing that everything important to me was with me and that I’m finally totally mobile and independent.

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