It’s Dinghy Time
It’s amazing how many motorhome owners are towing dinghy vehicles. Makes sense; you can’t beat the versatility and convenience of having another vehicle for tooling around town. Call it sort of an on the road game, but I find it very interesting to check out what others are towing while I’m on trips.
The field is pretty extensive with the list of capable dinghy vehicles expanding each year. That becomes obvious after checking out our annual Guide to Dinghy Towing. You’ll see 128 listings of vehicles of all configurations ready to be towed without making drivetrain modifications. Surely, there are others that can be towed on a dolly or trailer or by modifying the transaxle or driveshaft, but the Dinghy Guide is dedicated to those vehicles that are ready to roll right off the assembly line. All you have to do is add a base plate, wire it up for the turn signals and running lights and attach the tow bar. Of course, we also recommend some type of auxiliary braking device.
Dinghy vehicles are extensions of an owner’s personality and lifestyle. For example, I tow a yellow Jeep Wrangler with a soft top. The yellow color and fun-to-drive factor make me feel younger than my age suggests. I can drop the top after settling in camp and tour the surrounding areas with the wind blowing through my (remaining) hair. I’m an off-road enthusiast, although the hard-core stuff has long been crossed off my bucket list. Now I just enjoy exploring back roads and negotiating dirt trails that are somewhat less technical.
On a trip last fall when our group of 13 rigs gathered on California’s central coast for a jazz festival, I couldn’t help but notice the variety of dinghy vehicles. Probably the most unique was a Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible. The owner searched aggressively to find a ragtop with a manual transmission and turbocharged engine. Rare find, but he managed to acquire one with very few miles and in mint condition. It was the most fun dinghy vehicle in the group.
The more eccentric motorhome owners gravitate to dinghy vehicles with unique character. I often thought that a Volkswagen Thing would be a neat dinghy vehicle, albeit one that offers less-than-sterling comfort and luxury. Every time I see one behind a motorhome (a rare occurrence), I get the hots to have one, even though its Spartan attributes make it a vehicle that’s far less than practical — and my wife, Lynne, gives me the “growing up” speech when I broach the subject.
There are many cool vehicles on the suitable dinghy list and the introduction of the Fiat 500 to the field this year will certainly turn some heads. The diminutive Fiat is a sporty car with just enough Italian flair to make it really fun to drive. It gets terrific gas mileage out of the feisty four-banger and only weighs 2,360 pounds, which makes it easy on just about any motorhome. For me, the convertible is the only way to go, and the car will work nicely until you try to shoehorn two additional passengers into the back seat. By now it’s pretty apparent that I don’t have much use for roofs that don’t come off.
No longer are small cars, well, just small and boring to drive. Offerings from Ford and Chevy, for example, make excellent dinghy vehicles that exude a lot of pizzazz and decent performance. And, of course, on the more practical side, Honda’s CR-V — especially in all — wheel drive — is one of the most versatile dinghy vehicles on the market.
Combine the great list of suitable vehicles for towing with base plates that virtually disappear when not in use, hightech braking systems and sophisticated tow bars, and a dinghy vehicle becomes the quintessential option.
Enjoy the guide and your ride.