Although it's a topic that's open for debate, in this instance, I really am not crazy. And while I'm setting up my '00 coupe to be used for light-duty towing so that I can take my '03 Harley-Davidson Night Train with me to places where I want to ride but not necessarily ride to, there are plenty of reasons that Corvette owners might have for using their Vette as a tow rig.
No one in his or her right mind is going to use a Corvette for any sort of heavy towing. But a late (C4 or C5) Vette is completely capable of towing things like one or two jet skis, a lightweight fishing boat, a couple dirt bikes, or, in my situation, one or two cruiser-type Harleys.
At least two companies--Draw-Tite and Reese--manufacture light-duty hitches for C5s, and Reese also offers a similar unit for all C4s. And numerous companies offer an incredible variety of motorcycle haulers--everything from basic open-top boxes with a tilt-down gate to monstrous devices that'll carry several big bikes, as well as provide comfortable vacation living quarters for two to four people.
To do something as absurd as tow a Harley (or two) behind a Corvette requires, in addition to a quality hitch, a fairly small and lightweight motorcycle trailer. Seeing as how Harleys aren't exactly inexpensive (from slightly under $10K for a basic Sportster to $30K-plus "out the door" for some of the limited edition Softails and Touring models), it only makes sense to get a well-engineered and well-built trailer that's designed specifically for toting a big bike.
Whenever a trailer is not in use, it has to be stored somewhere, and even the smallest "dedicated" cycle hauler that's capable of carrying a Harley is going to take up a space measuring 8-10 feet by around 5 feet. At least two reputable trailer manufacturers offer carriers that can be stood up on end when not in use, which reduces the floor space to park one from 8-10 x 5 feet to 2-3 x 5 feet--a relative sliver of garage space that almost all of us can spare.
With those factors in mind, I went off the deep end and ordered a Reese Class II "receiver" hitch and electrical connector (PNs 105346 and 101569) from Corvette Central, then placed a call to H & H Trailer Co. to order one of their new and really trick SM1 stainless steel, stand-up, open-bed motorcycle trailers. It's a neat-looking little rig, constructed of brushed-finish stainless steel channel with aluminum diamond plate decking, and an easy to stow stainless and aluminum diamond plate ramp. I opted for the optional chrome-plated 13-inch slotted steel wheels and radial ply trailer tires, and a polished aluminum diamond plate removable front rock shield.
A couple caveats need to be mentioned. The Reese hitch is intended to fit '97-99 Corvettes. The hitch was engineered to fit with a stock exhaust system. And on page 4-33 of my owner's manual, GM states, "Your Corvette is neither designed nor intended to tow a trailer." What do they know? My car's a '00, but as far as I could determine from the GM product and information guides (a.k.a. press kits) we have in the office, The General made no changes to the frames and other rearward components between '97-03 models except for the exhaust tips in '01 and, of course, the titanium pipes and mufflers on all Z06s. If there's any interference between the hitch and my coupe's MagnaFlow pipes and mufflers, well, a little massaging (with a hammer) should resolve that issue. And C5s are damn near bulletproof, so I don't see any reason that the car can't pull an extra 850-900 pounds once in a while. (I am going to add a transmission fluid cooler as soon as possible, but that's about the only area that I can see the C5 needing help in.)
We installed the hitch at the Primedia Tech Center. The instruction sheet claimed that an installation should take approximately 40 minutes--add an hour or two and you'll be in the ballpark. And this is with the car on a shop hoist! Whether the car is still running the stock Cat-Backs or has an aftermarket system, the entire Cat-Back system must be loosened and dropped out of the way as the hitch bolts (through two to-be-drilled holes per side) to the rear portion of the frame's side rails, and there is no way to get to that region with the mufflers in place. I have no idea how well (or if) the Reese hitch will fit with stock mufflers, but a LOT of "massaging" was needed to make both the hitch and the previously-installed MagnaFlow "Wide Open" system fit on the same car.
Hooking up the four-wire/four-pin electrical connector was extremely straightforward. By pure coincidence, the H&H SM1 trailer was delivered about an hour after we'd finished the installation, so we did our first road test on the commute home. It towed perfectly and, thanks to a well-engineered torsion bar axle, didn't even bounce around on the freeway or surface streets with no load. Unhooking the trailer, rolling it back into the garage, and standing it up on its four-caster rear was a simple and easy solo task.
As long as the trailer and tow vehicle are on level terrain, loading and tying down a 650-pound Harley can also be handled solo. After buying a pair of ratchet-style cycle tie-downs and sheepskin-wrapped "U" straps (to loop over the handlebars or "triple trees"), I gave it a test run. With the ramp in place, I slowly rode the Night Train up the ramp--modulating the throttle and front brake--using my legs to "walk" it upward. At slightly under 5'9", I had no problem touching the ground as I eased the bike up the ramp and into the wheel trough in the center of the trailer bed. Once I had the bike's front wheel resting against the chock, I was able to rest the bike on its kickstand, carefully climb off, and hook the straps in place. With the pair of straps loosely securing the bike, I released the kickstand and slid a piece of scrap 4x4 lumber wrapped with some old carpet under the center of the bike, and then snugged up both tie-downs. The reason for the wood beneath the frame is so the force holding the bike tightly to the trailer is applied to the frame instead of entirely on the forks, which are basically big hydraulic shock absorbers. Put the entire load onto the forks and there's the potential of damaging or destroying one or more of the fork seals.
I haven't yet had a chance to do an extended tow, but in several local test runs with my H-D on board, including doing over 65 mph on the freeways, the package seems to work beautifully. A Corvette is not and never will be an ideal tow vehicle. But, if you don't have a pickup or SUV to use for light-duty (keeping it under 2,000-2,500 pounds) towing, a late Vette does a pretty good job. And nothing compares for eye appeal to a Corvette pulling a purpose-built motorcycle trailer with a Harley-Davidson strapped in place.