Smart car towing

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Smart car towing

Post by rapidair65 on Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:22 pm

We have just bought a Smart cabriolet to tow behind out Bourton. We have been looking at various A frame suppliers websites and none give any prices. So we decided to call TAF in Chesterfield as they are our local supplier. Their website is being rebuilt and their phone lines are out of order. Has anyone had any dealings with TAF or knows if they are still trading? Their frames seem well made from stainless steel and the braking system straightforward but I can't contact them for a quote.
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Re: Smart car towing

Post by PLOUGHLIN on Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:30 pm

When I investigated an A frame from Smart-Tow, it worked out about £1800 with local agent fitting. I went for a trailer in the end as intended to go continental and some countries deem A Frames illegal.

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Re: Smart car towing

Post by rapidair65 on Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:14 pm

Thanks Peter, we looked at trailers but with limited storage at home we have nowhere to keep it. Smart-tow look good but there are no fitters near me and I don't want to drive the smart all the way to Leeds (our nearest agent) and hang around while the frame is installed. I would do it myself but the video shows the car being virtually dismantled and I don't want to end up with a pile of broken plastic!
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Re: Smart car towing

Post by Gromit on Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:17 pm

PLOUGHLIN wrote:When I investigated an A frame from Smart-Tow, it worked out about £1800 with local agent fitting. I went for a trailer in the end as intended to go continental and some countries deem A Frames illegal.
There's a caveat here Peter, and in our case it was a big one. May be worth mentioning in case Rapidair is thinking of a trailer.

We could probably have found some way of storing a trailer at home, though it wouldn't have been easy. Coming home with the trailer in tow would have been a nightmare however. We live just inside the 30 limit on a busy main road, and if a vehicle goes past doing less than 50 we phone the Pope and ask him to declare a miracle!! (Funny, it is not - but the police won't do a thing about it!!)

I can't pull into the drive and unhitch, nor can I pull off the road and use the pavement as there's nowhere near enough room. I would either have to block one lane of the road and do all the unloading while the traffic hurtles past, or unhitch down a side road about 200 yards away, and manhandle the trailer to the house, and bust a gut trying to lug it over the curb and onto the drive. Either way would be a good way to commit suicide!!

That's why we have an A-Frame (Smart Tow) which is fine because we usually stop in one place abroad for no more than 2 or 3 days, so a toad would be an encumbrance. We pull into a lay bye a few miles from home to unhitch, and Mrs Gromit drives the toad home a few minutes after me so I can get the van tucked out of the way.

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Re: Smart car towing

Post by PLOUGHLIN on Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:51 pm

I live at the end of a Cul-de-Sac and the trailer just fits through the garage door so storage and loading is OK. Your layout sounds horrible.

The other reason I went for a trailer was that the A frame fitting involved mods to body panels electrics and brakes, and on a 6 month old car I felt that compromising the 2.5 years warrantee remaining wasn't worth it.

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Re: Smart car towing

Post by rapidair65 on Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:24 am

We've finally gone for an A frame from Towbars2Towcars in Lincs. We were having a few days in the Wolds with our Bourton and nipped over to see their system. It looks well engineered and they are booked up for conversions until mid October. They had some trailers in the yard but even the Smart car specific ones looked very heavy and some were the size of a small caravan! All the trailers were trade ins against A frame systems. The chap we spoke to seemed very knowledgeable about Smart cars and the issues we may encounter when towing one. Price for installation and materials is £2000 plus vat. Expensive I know but the frame and components are well made and finished. They do need the motorhome to check that the car will not foul the van rear on full lock so, as we live in Derbyshire, we will take the Smart over, they supply a converted courtesy car so we can drive home and the next day we take the Bourton back towing the courtesy car. We are booked in for mid October and are off to Cornwall the week after so the outfit will get a good test. I will keep the forum posted on our progress.
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Re: Smart car towing

Post by Gromit on Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:40 am

rapidair65 wrote:even the Smart car specific ones looked very heavy and some were the size of a small caravan! All the trailers were trade ins against A frame systems.
That tells you a lot doesn't it!! 

Their trailers are excellent, but they are very heavy to lug around, and having watched two or three people unloading and re-loading their cars I'm absolutely sure we made the right decision - and I suspect you will agree when you realise how easy it is with the A-Frame. Apart from any other consideration all that strapping down would put me off, specially if it was hissing down.

All you need now is a laminated check list to keep under the car's sun shade.  up!

P.S. I wouldn't presume to advise you on towing abroad, but on our recent trip to Provence we saw three British vans towing with an A-Frame. I wasn't able to speak to any of them, but it would appear that in France at least, there isn't a problem. We prefer to be solo abroad as we tend to tour mainly and the toad would be a pest.

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Re: Smart car towing

Post by groundhog on Sat Sep 02, 2017 9:45 pm

Will be looking out for you down here rapidair65, not sure where you are going but a great time to visit!  up!
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Re: Smart car towing

Post by Paulmold on Sat Sep 02, 2017 10:02 pm

Worth reading this very recent thread off Fun forum.

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Re: Smart car towing

Post by Gromit on Sun Sep 03, 2017 9:26 am

Worth reading this statement from the DVLA as well. [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] 

The last sentence at the bottom of page 1 is fundamental to the issue.

"From the above I hope it is clear that we believe the use of "A" frames to tow cars behind other 
vehicles is legal provided the braking and lighting requirements are met. However, while this is our 
understanding of the Regulations, it is only the Courts which can reach a definitive interpretation of 
the law." 


Note the use of "we believe" in the first sentence, followed by "it is only the Courts which can reach a definitive interpretation of the law". As this has not been tested in Court no-one can actually say whether it is legal or not, but it seems pretty clear that the chances of falling foul in this country are very slim indeed.


Abroad is another matter, and probably very much depends on the attitude of the individual police officer.

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Re: Smart car towing

Post by rapidair65 on Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:04 am

groundhog wrote:Will be looking out for you down here rapidair65, not sure where you are going but a great time to visit!  up!
We are staying at Trewethett farm CMC site. The OH wants to visit teddy bear shops and I'm doing lifeboat stations! Should be an interesting stay. Look out for a black smart cabrio driven in a manic fashion by a small blonde woman!
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Re: Smart car towing

Post by rapidair65 on Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:42 am

After another re-think on the Smart towing conundrum, we have bought a Phoenix Smart trailer. The OH didn't like the idea of the car being 'modified' to take the A frame system as our insurance is based on the car being to the manufacturers standard build. Also we couldn't find any references to the car being insured while being towed, so we went for a trailer. The build quality is first class with mainly German components. We towed it back to Derbyshire from Lincs yesterday and it behaved impeccably behind our Mazda Bongo in horrendous conditions on the M1. We will spend the next day or so practising loading and unloading then a shakedown trip to Trentham Gardens over the weekend to check it out behind the Bourton. We are off to Cornwall via Glastonbury later in the month so I need to make sure everything is A1.
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