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CtrMint's picture
Last seen: 1 min 1 sec ago
Joined: 13/06/2018
Tow car advice

Morning all,

I'd like to get your input on a tow car.  I've decided to get the best out of the 620R and visit tracks further a field than just Oulton, however I don't want to drive there.  So a trailer is the way to go.

With this plan in mind I swapped out our daily for a used Subaru Forester, but it's not gone well and we're getting our money back.  Please note the used market on the IOM is terrible, and buying from the UK is always tricky.  Anyhow I've decided to use a bit more cash and buy something newer, the plan is 3 series touring. For me they are the best estate on the road.  Please note the wife will drive it daily, and she doesn't want to go too large, so a 5 series is out. Plus I'm not a fan of SUVs at all, a Forester (STI) was the rare exception. I also want the spec of the car to fit 99% of its use, not 1% of its use.  So a new spec 3 series touring seems the perfect daily.

Now I've read a number of threads regarding trailers, and the general view seems to be a twin axle is better.  But I'm unsure of the tow car.  The 3 series towing capacity is within range for a trailer plus Seven.  But with no experience of I'm a little uncertain of what I'm doing.

I have towed before, had a practice some weeks back using a friends L200 and a large twin axle, it was pretty easy.

Is a 3 series OK? I really am blind here, thanks

Clive Dabinett
Last seen: 4 weeks 1 day ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

I use a discovery myself but my friend tows his Escort Rally car with a BMW 320d its the 184bhp model really nice car .

paid about 10k i think.

Wrightpayne's picture
Last seen: 6 min 11 sec ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

I used to tow the seven on a twin axle BJ clubman using a Skoda Superb - 140bhp diesel. Most if the time you wouldn't know it was there - both power of the car and stability of the trailer.

One thing I didnt get resolved was a slight mismatch in height between the trailer hitch and the car tow ball. The latter was a little high meaning the trailer forced the back of the car down. It was only an inch. I never checked the nose weight and it towed fine so didnt pursue. I understand a certain amount of nose weight is advantageous.

I'm sure some of the sprinters, who tow lots, will be along shortly.


CtrMint's picture
Last seen: 1 min 1 sec ago
Joined: 13/06/2018

I'm actually looking at petrol, diesel seems so unpopular at present, and they don't really work on the IOM too.  I understand the benefits of torque that a diesel would provide, so I'm looking a 330i, they're around the 240BHP mark so plenty to compensate for lower torque.  Interestingly the petrol isn't available in XDrive which I assume would have been helpful.


Caterham 420R S3 Lotus Toxic Green,  awaiting Caterham 620R delivery. Blog: https://www.caterham7diaries.com
pugwash's picture
Last seen: 2 hours 34 min ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

I think towing is all about the weight of the tow car vs the weight of the trailer plus load, and whether the trailer is braked or not.  You have already done the weight calculations and after that it's up to you.  I used to tow a 7m fin keeled yacht on a frame trailer with a BMW 520 petrol (150 Bhp). Let's say the weight ratios were at the limit.  When braking the trailer would give the car a good shove!  I quickly learned the most stable way to drive was either with gentle acceleration or gentle braking.  Pull aways always gentle, nice and smooth.  So it's not about lots of horsepower it's about being smooth and massive anticipation of traffic and junctions.  I am assuming you aren't likely to tow much across fields or up and down slipways so 4x4 is nice but not really essential.

Relatively speaking the 7 on a trailer doesn't weight that much and now I have a Range Rover as tow car and 4 wheeled car trailer, but still use the same broad techniques I used with my boat.


Derek Batty
Derek Batty's picture
Last seen: 2 hours 36 min ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

How about an Audi four wheel drive estate , best of both worlds ,when we used to go across in Lee’s rally car it was on a trailer ,,to tow it he bought an oldish Serra estate dropped a Range Rover V8 in , hell of a towing machine ,, other option buy the missis a small runabout and a van for towing, so you can load it with gear wheels ect and leave them in , Ive a Vito merc van not to big 2-5 turbo diesel sport engine 280 bhp goes like hell , ushed  as a mobile dog kennel and work horse , if just buying one would go for discovery I think 


gulf 1
Last seen: 3 hours 53 min ago
Joined: 27/11/2014

Hi Mark

I tow mine on BJ minnow behind a Skoda Octavia VRS ,petrol version you hardly know it's there.Mine is the hatchback but there is loads of room to transport tools,fuel etc.If you had the estate the load bay in that is massive.



Hampshire West AR
Hampshire West AR's picture
Last seen: 2 weeks 2 days ago
Joined: 01/05/2015

My previous car was a BMW E91(touring) 3 series.  It was admittedly a diesel and the 6 cylinder one but it towed our caravan and my Caterham with a Brian James Minno Max.  Towing the caravan it did tug a bit due to the windage on the van and the fact that a 3 series is a relatively light tow car, but for towing a Caterham it was fine and was rock solid.  I think if you stick to the larger petrol with a bit more torque you should have a very nice car for what you want.  


anthonym's picture
Last seen: 1 day 13 hours ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

Is that an S3 or SV?  I swear by Brian James Minno Shuttles (no longer built, if bought used likely to need ALL parts replacing), so with a Seven aboard typically you need 1500kg braked towing weight (S3 as SV won't fit). The "Shuttle" means completely covered with a hard top. Also consider overnight security (anyone got a link to the white 7 being stolen from a motel car park off the back of its tow car?).

there are threads on here that are extensive and deep in their details.

edit: you don't mention what the trailer is, hence the above as it affects towing weight and other choices..



Petethediesel's picture
Last seen: 28 min 55 sec ago
Joined: 10/12/2017

330i is a great car and it will have the bigger/stronger BMW diff fitted, so ideal for towing. You may have to use the BMW bespoke tow bar/electrics as I recall they are logged in with the ECU.

Pete C

John Vine
John Vine's picture
Last seen: 1 min 59 sec ago
Joined: 17/04/2014

...and they don't really work on the IOM too.

That's interesting.  What exactly is the problem re diesel on the IOM?