The MGA With An Attitude

This is not one of my favorite subjects, as I avoid it as much as possible, but the questions pop up occasionally, so it's time to post something about it.

On 5/26/2009 Tony Welland wrote:
"Can you tell me how to tow a MGA if I ever break down as I cannot seem to find any tow points under the car"?
Emergency flasher light
This depends on how far you need to tow it. For any on-road towing you need to maintain visible brake lights, and tail lights at night. It is a good idea to use an orange flashing strobe light on the back end of the towed car.

If you have a friend to operate steering and brakes in the disabled car while you drive the tow car (or vice versa), and only a short way to go, you can tie a rope low down on a front suspension arm or anti-sway bar, trying not to damage the front valance panel in the process. Or you could loop a rope around the front suspension cross member, being careful to be sure it comes off tangent at the bottom. Towing with a rope or strap or chain requires great care to avoid any mishap. The technique in general is to pull with the lead car and brake with the towed car so the tow rope will remain taught at all times. Trying to slow down two cars with one set of brakes can take up to four times the stopping distance from a given speed, so go slow and allow LOTS of distance for braking.

For flat towing on four wheels you can use a rental tow bar that clamps onto the bumper, although these are getting rare as newer cars have integral plastic bumpers that don't work this way. Last time I rented one of these was September 1992 to tow my MGA with a friend's mini van. Rental fee might have been in the range of $16-$22.

Removing the front bumper and attaching to the two front bumper mounting studs is not recommended, except for short distance at very low speed. These points are not particularly strong in side loading for cornering or for any emergency maneuver.

If you want to attach a tow bar more securely you need to drill some holes and bolt a bracket to the bottom edge of the front frame extension underneath behind the front valance panel. This is a common mounting point for an aftermarket sway bar. The frame is not particularly thick here, being made of 14-gauge steel (0.075-inch thick). For long term use any structural bracket like this should include a heavy steel strap or angle iron on the top side of that bottom flange to spread the local load and avoid cracking the metal in the frame extension. The brackets and tow bar shape should be designed to allow the tow bar to clear the bottom edge of the front valance panel.

A good solution for longer distance towing is a two wheel tow dolly (with tail lights). Many truck rental places have them, but may be particular about what you use for a tow vehicle. General tool rental places may also have them and might care less what you use to tow it. Last time I rented one of these was October 2000, cost was $33 for 24 hours (plus a $150 refundable deposit). I towed the dolly with my Chevy Lumina Eurosport 3.1, including the MGA on the dolly and my little luggage trailer behind the MGA. It was an interesting sight, just don't try to back up.

Before you ask the next pertinent question, yes you can tow an MG with rear wheels on the ground without disconnecting the propshaft. Refer to article GT-201 for everything about lubrication inside the gearbox.

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