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I am purchasing my next project car, a 1976 Fiat 124. For those that don't know, it's a rear wheel drive manual.

In my area, it's not possible to rent a flat-bed trailer unless I want to spend over $300. A tow dolly however is less than $50.

I have to tow it about 120 miles. Based on my brief internet searching, I've found the following options to tow it:

  • Lock the steering wheel (how?) and tow it backwards (rear wheels forward)
  • Disconnect the drive shaft and tow it front wheels forward
  • Put it in neutral with the parking brake off and front wheels forward

Which of these options is the safest method of towing this car? Or is there another method?

If one of the above methods will work, what will I need to do to make it safe? What should I be aware of or cautious about?

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The safest option and the one which I'd be most comfortable with is spending the $300 on a trailer.

I assume the car is a project and therefore not in a roadworthy state. It's therefore safe to assume that the tyres won't be in great condition, the hubs and bearings may not be too clever and presumably you don't know the condition of the bodywork to where you'll be attaching the dolly to.

The beauty of a trailer is it effectively takes the whole vehicles condition out of the equation. Provided you can get it onto the load bed and appropriately secure it, you're home free. If the tyres won't hold air, if they're cracked or if the tread is illegal; doesn't matter. If the chassis is rotten and the vehicle flexes or crabs, it doesn't matter. If the suspension or steering bushes are perished and it won't track up true, it doesn't matter. If the hubs are so dry they'll run their bearings in just 5 miles of 20mph+ operation; it doesn't matter.

Take it from someone who has extensive experience with 70's Italian stuff; the cost of the trailer compared to the cost of a dolly is negligible when compared with the total cost of restoring and running such a car. Pay the money, get the trailer.

You could consider looking into vehicle transport sites where transporters bid for your business.

The Fiat 124 is a fantastic car by the way. A friend of mine has a 124 Spider and did the Montecarlo Historic in it a couple of year ago. When it's working right, it's a truly wonderful machine.

  • I should add a footnote that this isn't the answer you want to hear but given the distance involved and the potential for serious incident, this is the answer I feel safest giving. – Steve Matthews Aug 22 '16 at 9:33
  • If @ Steve Matthews' answer wasn't convincing enough, in some locals vehicles on a dolly (read this as part of it on the road) must be titled, registered and insured. – mikes Aug 22 '16 at 10:29
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    An afterthought, if it has a locking rear differential it can't be towed on a dolly by the front wheels. The differential won't unlock while cornering unless you use bolt on freewheeling hubs. – mikes Aug 22 '16 at 10:32
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    Thanks for the answer. This definitely was much safer. I was able to get one for less than I anticipated and had no problems towing (other than needing three people to push the sucker up onto the trailer! Got her running a couple days later and she's now close to road worthy :) – Moses Aug 29 '16 at 17:45
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The safest way to tow it is to remove the driveline and tow it forward. This will ensure the transmission is not run dry. I'm unsure if the Fiat transmission is lubed from the front, back, or either side of motion within it. By taking the drive shaft down, you eliminate the possibility all together. Replacing or rebuilding a Fiat tranny because you don't do this would not be cheap, I'm sure.

There most likely is only four bolts holding it onto the differential. You'll most likely want to keep the slip yoke in place by tieing the driveshaft off someplace securely onto the vehicle from underneath. By leaving it in place, you'll ensure no fluid leakage from the transmission during towing, but you'll need to make sure the driveshaft is very secure in the process. Use several zip ties or even good old bailing wire. Something strong and dependable.

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