Preparing Abarth to be Flat Towed w/Blue Ox Hardware


4/13/15

Having owned our Airstream Interstate motor-home for around seven months and having taken it on a number of camping trips, we decided that we wanted to flat tow a vehicle. While the AI is easy to drive, it is 25′ long and nearly 10′ high. These dimensions do have some limitations, especially when traveling in large cities, which we plan to do next month on a trip that includes Philadelphia and Boston.

To that end, we traded in my wife’s 2009 Mini Cooper S on a 2013 Fiat Abarth with 6200 miles. My wife liked her Mini but the company does not approve it for flat towing, even though we have seen some being towed. Our Mini was an automatic which also can be a complicating factor for flat towing. The Abarth is a manual and the steering wheel does not lock which is a plus.

4-4-15 Fiat Abarth 8 4-4-15 Fiat Abarth 6 4-4-15 Fiat Abarth 3

One we had the car, I ordered the Blue Ox base plate that attaches to the car, the wiring kit, and the tow bar.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 13 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 12

To install the base plate, the front bumper cover must be removed. Despite having had an invisible bra installed I still taped the fender edge.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 7

The instructions are pretty decent and they recommended removing only some of the inner fender liner fasteners so it could be pulled back to access the bolt that mounts the bumper cover to the front fender. Access to the bolt was tight with a tough angle. I found it easier to remove the entire fender liner.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 6

There are four T30 bolts on top that are revealed with the hood up and three more on the bottom. I marked the top area so I could make sure everything lined up when I put it back together.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 9 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 10 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 3

The side marker and turn signal wiring plugs must be detached on both sides as well as the fog light plug on the driver’s side only.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 2 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 20 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 21

The cover is very light and was easily removed.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 194-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 16

That big black thing in the center of the picture above is to be removed and the base plate installed using the original mounting bolts. They do recommend using loctite and properly torquing the bolts.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 364-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 35 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 34

Once the base plate was in place, I had to install the safety straps. If, for some reason, the base plate detached from the car, the safety straps would keep the car from careening away. They wrapped around the upright where the bar was mounted and were attached to loops built into the base plate. The tie straps you see were an effort on my part to prevent rattling of the piece that connected the two ends of the strap.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 31 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 30

Now came the hard to do part…cutting into the lower grill. Basically you hold up the front cover to where it touches the protruding parts of the base plate. I also looked at their online photos and counted the grill shapes below the safety chain bar and then, using my air powered hack saw, I cut around the bar. Once I had those cut and sticking out a bit, it was then easy to see where the cuts had to be made around the tow bar mounts.

4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Wiring 38 4-13-15 Abarth BlueOx Baseplate 28

And that completed the mechanical part of the installation. The tow bar is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Soon I will be bringing the AI home to hook it up and try it out. My next post will show how to wire the tow car to the motor-home.

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