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Tow Car & Trailer

posted 28 Feb 2011, 01:05 by Kieren McDonald
Especially helpful to those that have a post-1997 driving license and want to tow legally!! I found it incredibly confusing to find out what was/wasn't allowed so hopefully I'll be able to shed some light on this matter in this blog...

Tow Vehicle
The decision for how to transport the race car was based on keeping costs down.  Our second car is a mk4 VW Golf GT TDI 150 so decided best to use this, although thoughts of mansion-like motorhomes did appeal to us :-) This would certainly help keep the costs down as there is no need to buy a vehicle dedicated to race weekends.  I managed to find a detachable Bosal tow bar for the Golf (make sure you get one specific to the make/model of your tow vehicle!) on eBay for a good price; amazed to find it looked like new when it turned up - a great buy!  Simon did a great job of fitting this to Golf.

Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of my own garage so I needed to find somewhere - ideas were finding a kind farmer with space, industrial units, friends, council garages - I opted for the later.  I had to think of what I was going to store - a trailer with race car on top.  Options were limiting when looking at trailer sizes!  Also you need to consider location, access and where you will work on the car.  I decided the cheapest/easiest option for me right now was to enquire about renting a council garage.  I found there was one available around the corner from where I live (bit of a rough area so security & insurance is another consideration!) that costs £10 per week but can only be used for storage.  It would be great to have electric and be able to work at the storage location but this will have to do for now.

So....the trickiest bit for me and what a nightmare looking at all the options available to me with my driving license!  Basically there are limitations to those that passed their driving test after 1997, which is a right pain when you want to drive with heavier loads!!  My first point of call was the DirectGov website (which I actually worked on ha! but I didn't write the content so don't blame me!!) BUT I found contradicting rules on two different pages of their site! I ended up writing an email for final clarification so here is the response for those interested:

Category B: Vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes MAM and with up to eight passenger seats

Category B vehicles may be coupled with a trailer up to 750kgs MAM (allowing a combined weight up to 4.25 tonnes MAM) or a trailer over 750kgs MAM provided the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle, and the combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes MAM.


For example:

a vehicle with an unladen weight of 1.25 tonnes and a MAM of 2 tonnes coupled with a trailer with a MAM of 1.25 tonnes could be driven by the holder of a category B entitlement. This is because the MAM of the combination does not exceed 3.5 tonnes and also the MAM of the trailer does not exceed the unladen weight of the drawing vehicle


the same vehicle with an unladen weight of 1.25 tonnes and a MAM of 2 tonnes when coupled with a trailer with a MAM of 1.5 tonnes would fall within category B+E. This is because although the combined weight of the vehicle and trailer is within the 3.5 tonnes MAM limit, the MAM of the trailer is more than the unladen weight of the drawing vehicle

So in my case:
  • MAM of trailer cannot be more than 1343kg (unladen Golf weight)
  • The MAM of the trailer + the MAM of the Golf (1790kg) cannot be more than 3500kg - so, MAM of trailer can be maximum of 1710kg
  • 1st point takes precedence as weight is lower so maximum MAM of trailer is 1343kg
Weights must be taken from the chassis plate of the vehicle/trailer - this is what VOSA would look at.  I have heard nightmare stories of people being over the weight limits and having trailer plus contents confiscated!! I didn't want to risk it with £20k+ in rebuild/parts/trailer costs!!  They are apparently having a big clamp-down on this so beware!

The other option is a 2-day course plus test for an extension to your driving license, which will allow you to tow much heavier loads - depends if you want to spend roughly £600?! I probably will in the long term, as I may end up getting a van in the future, depending how things go.

Once I was clued up about the weights, my next issue was finding a trailer that could fit into the standard-sized garage that I was renting off the council.  I had heard great things about Brian James trailers - they were small (great for weight limitation!) and they have a "Minno" model, which is advertised as garage-friendly! Sounded perfect, so searched high and low for one of these.  They certainly hold their value so be prepared to pay roughly £1200+ for one! You may also consider finding one with the extras that you want, e.g. tyre rack, storage box for jerry cans, etc.  I ended up buying one via an advert I had found on a website and the seller strangely turned out to be an old client of Simon's - small world!

And, yes....I can confirm....the Minno does fit in a standard sized garage, that was a relief!!! :-D

If you have the original purchase invoice for the trailer, you can scan/email over to Brian James and they will send you a new chassis plate with the MAM figure that you need for roughly a tenner - this is what I did and well worth to rule out the risk in my opinion!

Hope this helps anyone considering their options...and for those that have a pre-1997 driving license, I am a little jealous!! especially, as I passed mine not long after grrrrr!!

For more pics of tow car & trailer, please click here.