The Lotus Cars Community banner
1 - 20 of 47 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Don't know where to put this, so here is where I picked.

Next year I intend to get Hoosiers for my Elise, and I can't drive the car to the race with them on, nor can I rely on a chase vehicle following me every time. A trailer behind the Elise would be awkward at best, leaving me with getting a trailer and loading the Elise onto it pulled behind my Jeep.

Now the question: I know nothing about trailers. I want an inexpensive solution (open trailer). What should I look for? What should I make sure I don't get get? Any and all comments/advice welcome! I can't be the only one in this pickle.

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
AutoX trailers . . . .

can be bought or made.

You might want a tool box for jack, stands, misc. tools & a tire rack to carry your race tires.

If you are handy, a trailer can be made from a $200 Northern tool util - bolt on tool box and rack.

try www.southsporttrailers.com - that is what I inherited.

good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
246 Posts
Here is my experience.

I bought a Southsport tire trailer three years ago (Its for sale now). It was the perfect solution for Autox and weekend trips. Its holds lots of stuff including luggage. As I started to do more events the mileage piled up, and I already owned an F350 so $2000 later I had open trailer.

Now three years later I'm looking for an enclosed trailer. Moving 12 tires, tools and accessories every event is no longer fun.

My Southsport is for sale $450 and my open trailer with tool rack and special tie downs specific for the Elise will be for sale, after I find an enclosed trailer. The open trailer is steel (1700 lb.) plus gear and car it can get to be about 5000 lb.

If your towing with an SUV (Jeep) I would think the Elise being lightweight combined with an aluminum trailer would be fine for local events. But if your planning on the National Tour and Pro Solo's you will find many autocrossers who pile on milage end up with trucks.

Some people have success with 5000lb. tow vehicles towing 5000lb. but it only takes one grooved highway at speed or an abrupt lane change to learn who's boss.


Brian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,308 Posts
Featherlite sells aluminum trailers but they run 4K+ new. How much/little are you looking to spend?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Brian-let me know more about your trailer when you are ready to sell. My Jeep is a Grand Cherokee with a towing package and a nice big V8. It will be fine, I think. It was built for this. 'm looking to spend less than $4,000 to be sure. I'm not planning on doing national competitions, just stuff within 100 miles.

I hear I need electric brakes on the trailer in PA. Any other requirements? Toolbox, tire rack, yep. Will definitely look for those. Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,766 Posts
I'm with Dan get a Featherlite and you can tow it with a V6 engined car/SUV/truck you don't need a gas guzzler as you will be under 3000 pounds.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,230 Posts
Careful with weights guys. You can quickly overload a SUV's weight rating. Remember that you need 10-15% tongue weight, plus all the gear in the truck to measure your load on the truck.

Trucks can usually deal with pulling the weight, it's the trans strain, brake issues and stability (short wheelbase) issues that are the real issues.

You can never have too much truck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,308 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,766 Posts
It's funny I had the chance to go watch a track day in the UK and quite a few partitipants trailered their cars to the track. They towed with four and six cylinder cars and had no issues. I ended up talking to several of them about towing with small cars they seemed to get along just fine. Here we seem to need one ton plus pick-ups to pull anything. It's just not necessary, an SUV with a 6000 pound trailer rating and a V6 is more than sufficient for a 3000 trailer and car combo. At least for me where I only go relatively shrot distances and only about 6 - 8 times a year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,308 Posts
How about trailering an Elise with a 1200lb aluminum trailer with my 05 Subaru Legacy GT? It has 250hp/250ftlbs and the hitch is a class II which is rated for 3500lbs/300 lb tongue weight. I am considering it but the numbers are so close to the limit it makes me hesitate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
246 Posts
I can only offer up experiences from my 10-12,000 miles of towing per year.

The longer the wheelbase the better the tow vehicle.
The lighter the load the easier it is to tow.
Can a V6 SUV pull an Elise on an aluminum trailer? Sure.
Can your Legacy pull an Elise to an occasional track day? Sure.
Can a V6 SUV pull an Elise on a aluminum trailer across the Pennsylvania mountains. Sure at 35mph.

Get into trouble and the closer the trailer is in weight to the tow vehicle the more difficult it is to controll or the trailer just may get the upper hand.

Plus, light vehicles, even SUV's don't have the transmissions to tow more than occasionally. Most require tow kits that include transmission coolers.

You can always try towing with what you have. If it doesn't work out or is too scary my guess is you could afford the Elise a better tow vehicle shouldn't be too much of a reach.

You do have more options because the Elise is light.


Brian
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,308 Posts
Thanks BTC. The legacy weighs in at 3200 lbs so the tow weight is very close to the same. It would be occassional and 99% flat highways. Im still debating on what to do but appreciate the input. All made sense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I don't know what my V8 Grand Cherokee weighs, but it has to be 4K+, and I'm looking at a trailer less than 1K, so I should be good to go. Plus I don't have to cross any mountains, unless of course I'm moving west!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
162 Posts
I've towed my Europa to competition events since 1994, averaging 1500-2000 miles/yr towing mileage during that time. My first tow vehicle was a 1990 Aerostar with a 4.0L six and tow package (consisting mostly of an additional transmission cooler). My first trailer was from Trailer Source in Atlanta, GA. It was a dual-axle car hauler with electric brakes on the front axle and weighed ~1500 lbs. With the car on board, total trailer weight was in the range of 2750-2850 lbs.

I towed this rig over terrain ranging from Appalachian foothills to the plains of Kansas with no issues whatever. The Aerostar could maintain a steady 75 mph on all but the steepest inclines without coming out of overdrive or torque converter lockup, and crosswinds were never a problem. My first trailer was stolen in 2001, and I replaced it with a slightly heavier (1700 lbs) dual-axle unit. The Aerostar had no trouble towing this trailer with the Europa on board.

A little over year ago, I bought an Explorer with a 5.0L V8 (the Aerostar had 224k). Towing is now even easier as a result of the added torque, albeit at a small penalty in fuel economy (14 mpg towing vs. 15mpg previously).

I'd strongly recommend a dual axle car hauler and a Class III hitch. While it's possible to tow a light car with a single axle trailer, the consequences of a flat on the trailer are potentially much worse. Don't waste your money on a wood-floor utility trailer. Trailer weights vary widely, but you can get steel units that are surprisingly lightweight. If you can find one with split runners instead of a solid steel floor, you'll save weight there. Definitely get electric brakes, and get a good brake controller. Also, CHECK YOUR TONGUE WEIGHT. Identify the position to place your car on the trailer to get tongue weight to just over 10% of total trailer/load weight. Learn to drive your rig. Always allow additional distance to slow, and don't even think of making quick evasive maneuvers. IOW, drive appropriately for the vehicle, the load, and the conditions. There's no reason a medium-size SUV can't tow an Elise on an open trailer of reasonable weight, given proper setup and driving.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
104 Posts
I would second what RopaS2 said about the double axle trailer. The best way to destroy a tow vehicle and overload the hitch is to use a single axle.

I would also suggest considering weight distributing hitch and air bag springs for the rear, especially if the trailler causes the vehicle to not be level. A vehicle with a rearward lean is very unsafe, as braking will tend to unload the front wheels, potentially causing a dangerous situation. I had some personal experience with this a few years ago, when I towed an enclosed 18' trailer (3500 lb empty) with a Dakota. While the Dakota had the tow package, etc, towing the empty trailer was a handful. I installer the helper strings (effectively leveling the vehicle) and the towing handling was trasformed. I towed 6500lb + with this rig without a problem. A weight distributing hitch would have only improved the situation. I also recommend trailer brakes, as adding even 50% to the weight a vehicle must slow is taxing.

Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Okay!

I have the following (thanks everyone):

-Get a lightweight, open trailer, but not wood.
-Make sure its double axel.
-Make sure it is brake-assisted (also a PA requirement).
-Make sure my Elise is centered on it properly when hauling for best handling and not too much pressure on the tongue.
-The Jeep is okay to tow it with, as long as I'm not climbing mountains.
-Drive much slower and leave a lot more time and distance to react.

Toolbox, tire rack, storage are nice to haves (but not necessary-that stuff can also go in the Jeep).

Now I need to pay off my tires, wheels, springs and exhaust so I can save for the trailer. I'm hoping to spend between 1K and 2K in 3-9 months (when I'll get Hoosiers).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Why tow an Elise when driving is more than half the fun?

Yes you can buy a truck or SUV and drive it, but the joy of the Lotus is driving, not towing it in a trailer as S1 owners have had to do in the USA. If anyone can come up with a better solution, please email me ASAP.

Here is how I went through the options. I spent four months reviewing all the racks I could find. I reasoned, as do many other postings here, that there are lots of other small cars with bike racks, and some one of them must fit on the Lotus. But, I learned, sadly, why none work on the Lotus Elise, which shares most of the frame/body design with the Lotus Exige as well as Vauxhall and Opel models sold in the UK and Germany. I could review bike rack designs one by one (such as the Saris Bones ™ requires a rear bumper or similar parts, not found on Elise or Exige), or many others that use hooks or straps--that assume a stiff steel rear trunk area (the Lotus has a very light and weak fiberglass body all over-- like my carbon fiber racing road bike that will crush if you press it on the side).

Still, I race bikes every weekend and drive hundreds of miles, am bored with driving big cars, so got the Lotus Elise. It is fabulous to drive to bike events, and continues the bike racing experience—just the read the rave reviews in the car magazines. But the car needs a rack, for cycling, as well as luggage if you want to take more than an extra pair of socks (I drove it 3,000 miles on one trip). Yes the Lotus factory built a rack and sold racks for a while, for folks like Chris Boardman, but some blew off and they are out of the rack business. Their rack was mounted over the rear engine area. I contacted them and they said you need a different design altogether; this is unsafe as the connections are weak.

I drove to the Saris (TM) headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin as they have 120 types of clips that the salesman felt should fit almost any car. But once there, we found alas that none would fit on the Lotus top. Next I called Thule, which sponsors off-road rally cars. I almost bolted a Thule (TM) stiff steel set of tracks onto the top, designed to fit any fiberglass car top that will not take clamps. But before drilling, I emailed the top engineers at the Lotus factory in Hethel. They shot down all top mounting plans, since the window frame and connections would not withstand the torque. We initially looked for ways to add rigidity to the top, but came up with a better design.

I worked with engineers at the Illinois Institute of Technology and Society of Automotive Engineers, and then David Cooper, a talented vintage car restorer. We struggled with alternatives for months, finally developing the Unique Rack (www.uniquerack.com), now available for others.


Our design, one commentator was rightly concerned, might not be made from strong enough materials. Indeed many racks are loose, flexible, and some are breakable. The Lotus exacerbates this as the frame is lightweight aluminum and the body lighter fiberglass. There is a small core frame of steel around the engine and roll bar. This steel core is what we attach the rack to; anything else, like the top or fenders would be too stressed. There is no steel at the rear end of the car to which a “hitch” mount might be attached, which is another common car/bike rack solution. Some advised building a steel frame to add on to the existing frame, but this is heavy and complex.

Our solution is marvelously simple in using no new frame parts, but attaching to the solid steel core that are a standard part of the Lotus design.

On the Unique Rack larger stock items are made from very strong, high grade aluminum stock 7075-T651. These are then machined down to fit with each other and attach to the pre-existing car frame. The connector rods and bolts are steel. No fiberglass or carbon fiber used in the rack.

There is something magical about the combination of the car and rack. It does not rattle or make any significant wind noise at well over 100 mph, with the bike on or off. (I race the Lotus as well as bikes.) Why no noise, I ask—as many bike rack owners complain of this, even on high end sports cars from Germany? Why is ours different? I am not fully sure, but two elements stand out. First the rigidity of the mount transcends that of any of the racks I have seen or used. The foundation is steel bolted to heavy aluminum bars 25 to 38 mm thick—without any thin and flexible metal car hood or top or nylon cables in between. Second, Lotus has long been famous for aerodynamic mysteries (or at least subtleties). Much light rain flies over the windshield. Still, it amazes me that this extends to the height of a bike with three wheels on top of the car—but it seems to do so. True at high speed the Lotus engine is louder than a Bentley TM, thus obscuring some wind noise, but I hear almost no noise or rattles from the bike at any speed, compared to many other cars with bikes.

Could the design be adapted to carry extra wheels or other kinds of gear? Yes indeed. See the two sided model, onto which you can mount standrad rack accessories for carrying.

I or David Cooper would be glad to respond to any other specific questions that others may raise. Thanks for your serious concern.

Terry Clark, Chicago
[email protected]
www.uniquerack.com
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
29,081 Posts
Why tow an Elise when driving is more than half the fun?
There are some good reasons to tow the Elise.

1. Driving hundreds if not thousands of miles on a straight freeway is not as fun. Specially if it is raining, hot/humid, traffic.
2. A trailer gives you an option should something break.
3. Towing the car to the event keeps the miles down on the Elise.
4. You can prep the car at home for competition, including racing tires, etc and not have to change it over when you arrive.
5. You have room for more than one other person.
6. You can haul a lot more stuff like tools, spares, rain tires, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I was the one who tried the European alternative to a trailer, but as Randy said, there are drawbacks. My daughter decided she was going to be my pit crew and will eventaully race, and she wanted to come autoxing. Now as a Dad, this is a dream come true (think about it, all you Dads!), so do I tell her no, there's no room?

Thankfully I hadn't yet sold the trailer, so I put some money into re-wiring it, and now we go in comfort with the Elise in tow. I won't go long distances with my weak tow vehicle, but it's more than adequate for a 1 hour drive in relatively flat terrain. And I can bring all my tools, and multiple sets of rims! Try getting 8 wheels/tires on or in an Elise. :wallbang:
 
1 - 20 of 47 Posts
Top