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MG MGA - What's the best way to tow an MGA?

I am taking an auto restoration class at the local junior college and will need to bring my car to class each time (every other Saturday) for the next two months.

I'm planning on making a couple of brackets that bolt to the bumper mounts for attaching a Harbor Freight tow bar, does anyone have a better method?

Sorry for the pitiful Paint sketch, but hopefully it conveys they idea.

MGA Larry

I would look for a used tow dolly. Easy to use, and you can sell it when you are done.
Ed Bell

I've got a home built MGA tow bar that works well, but it requires the front bumper and valance be removed. The bumper brackets/extension by themselves are not something I would want to use as tow points. My frame adapter attaches at the frame where the front extension bolts on, and is only located vertically by the bumper mounts.
Del Rawlins

It's hard to beat a good trailer. You can move the car even with it substantially disassembled. I did once tow my second "A" with a U-Haul towbar clamped on the bumper, but I wouldn't advise it. A trailer or dolly is a far better way to go. Or bolt your brackets to the frame like Del's.

k v morton

I was admittedly a little leery of using the bumper mounts, replacing the outside mounting brackets sounds like a much better solution. Do you have any pictures of your mounting adapter, Del?
MGA Larry

I'll try to remember to drag it out of the shed later today for some pictures.
Del Rawlins

Okay, here is the towbar and frame adapter assembly for my MGA. The towbar itself was built by my dad sometime during the late 70's. When I needed to use it a couple years ago, I couldn't find the frame brackets that went with it, so I had to make my own. I probably cut up the original bracket years ago and made it into something else, not knowing what it was. More to follow.

Del Rawlins

Here is another picture showing the frame adapter assembly. The construction is kind of crude because I had to be ready to load it on the ferry less than one day after I arrived in town, and I was up until 4am building the thing, ironically enough using the same arc welder that my dad probably used to build the bar in the first place. Note how the bar bolts to the frame using the lower forward bolts for the front extension, and how the bumper mounts only locate the adapter vertically. There is a lot of overlapping metal and a lot of weld area at the corner joints, and the towbar attach bolts are in double shear, so it is actually pretty strong for just being made out of angle iron. The front valance was removed prior to building this, and I am pretty sure that it won't fit with the valance installed.

I believe that my dad's towbar adapter only bolted to the bumper mounts (I don't recall, having been 5 years old at the time), and I found some evidence of this having overstressed the bumper mounts, one of them having cracked. I did a quick and dirty weld repair, which I will probably have to go over again once I get the car down to the bare frame. My version still only relies on 2 bolts for most of the load, but they are in a solidly built part of the frame. If you planned on towing regularly, or for long distances, you'd be well advised to purchase a trailer. I wouldn't want to tow my MGA across the country using this method, but it worked fine for the 60 or so miles that I had to drive to Anchorage after getting off the ferry at Whittier. I've subsequently used it to tow the rolling chassis of a parts car that I bought across town. I had to make some hammer adjustments, but that car had also sustained collision damage to the front end.

If you end up towing instead of using a trailer, don't forget to buy a set of the magnetic trailer signal lights.

Del Rawlins

Here is a lousy picture of the MGA hooked up behind the same 1973 Chevy pickup that my dad used to tow it in the first place, after being loaded on the ferry. I'm not sure why the picture turned out so horribly, it must have had something to do with the lighting on the car deck, or that my digital camera died shortly thereafter.

Del Rawlins

Thanks Del, that helps a lot. I have the bumper and valance off the car already, as I'm getting it ready for a full frame-off restoration. I would really prefer to be able to tow the car as it's so much easier than loading it onto a trailer.

I appreciate you taking the time to post the photos, a picture really is worth a thousand words.
MGA Larry

No problem. Here is another picture showing the magnetic towing lights. Note the surveyor's tape, used to make the car as visible as possible.

Del Rawlins

Just a note from past posts. Its not a good idea to tow an MGA very far, as the transmission doesn't lubricate during towing. Only lubricates when the engine is running.
The Other MG Brother - Phil White

Well, since he is planning a frame-up restoration, might as well pull the drive shaft now.
Del Rawlins

here is a picture of a trailer I made in 1990. It has carried my many MGAs all over the place. The axles are Saab rear axles cut in two and welded inside round tube to lengthen. there are no springs under this trailer. I tie down the front wheels and rear axle and let the car suspension work. For well under $500 I have a servicable MGA trailer. With the deck less than a foot off the ground 1 man can load it if needed.

R J Brown

Phil, -- The MGA gearbox has an internal oil pump as part of the output shaft. This will keep the gearbox properly lubricated while towing with engine off, as long a the oil level is right. These cars have been towed for thousands of miles without disconnecting the prop shaft, and no problem to the gearbox. See here:
Barney Gaylord

This is all great info guys, thanks a lot.

The engine, transmission and driveline are already out of the car so gearbox lubrication isn't an issue (although it's good to know I can tow it without issue).

Since it turns out I won't have the time or resources to fabricate a towing bracket before this weekend, I picked up a quite serviceable trailer this week for $300. I'll try to post some pictures later.
MGA Larry

This thread was discussed between 29/09/2008 and 02/10/2008

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