First, let’s lay down a few definitions and answer some questions I know many of you are thinking. Yes, our Chevy Spark is a glorified golf cart. Yes, Kim, Jet, and I all fit in there – at the same time. And for all the non-RV’ers reading this, a “Toad” is a car that is being “towed” behind an RV. It can also be referred to as a “dinghy”, being the equivalent to a small boat alongside a ship. Most commonly, these vehicles are towed with four wheels on the ground, but there are folks who use a tow dolly or trailer. Not all vehicles (very few, in fact) can be towed with four wheels on the ground, without causing major damage and voiding any warranty
When we first began envisioning our RV lifestyle, we did not see a tow vehicle in the picture. We already owned a scooter and really thought we would be able to get by with that along with bicycles and bipedal locomotion (walking). This did work for months… then it got cold. After doing research, we finally came to the conclusion that a Chevrolet Spark might be the ride for us. We had previously test driven a Smart Car years before going full-time with a potential toad in mind. We were impressed by how large it felt in the cockpit, but there were some giveaways of how small it actually was. First, once you glanced back over your shoulder, it was clear that that was the end of the car – no backseat and very little “trunk” space. Also, on the highway, it did feel very light and inferior to the surrounding traffic. Now, once you’ve considered a Smart Car, everything else is enormously spacious! Compared to the Smart Car, the Spark offers a full backseat, four doors, and a decent size trunk area behind the hatch. It allowed us to easily move more people, items, and most importantly, Jet The Dog.
The Spark only came on our radar because Chevrolet condones four-down towing, but only in the manual transmission. As luck would have it, there was a used 2014 Spark at a local dealership in the small town of Campbellsville, Kentucky, where we were – with a manual transmission! It wasn’t in perfect condition, but we also didn’t pay the perfect condition price. It has very few options, but it’s mechanically sound and still has half of the factory warranty intact. After playing hardball, Ryan finally brought home our new Spark on a sunny, Fall, Friday afternoon. That’s when the real fun begins…
So now that we acquired a car that is capable of being towable, it’s time to make it towable. This requires a baseplate, tow bar, lighting electrical connections, and a braking system. Sounds simple enough, but it’s individual for each model of vehicle and there is not a “Toads R Us” up the street. After more research and ordering parts, the Spark slowly transformed into a Toad. It took three separate trips to the local RV mechanic, but it finally got done.
We went with a removable braking system (RViBrake2) for the ease of installation and the ability to use it in other vehicles in the future. We also decided to install new taillight bulbs for the toad lighting instead of tapping into the car’s factory taillight wiring. Once we hook up all the connections and put the RViBrake on the driver’s floorboard, we release the emergency brake, put it in neutral, turn the key to “ACC” and drive away! Probably about a 5 minute job, in total!
At a curb weight of less than 2,400 lbs, it is undetectable behind the RV. Once we unhook it, it gets us around town with a fuel economy of 35-40 mpg – that helps to offset the <10 mpg of Lucky. It may look tiny – and it is – but it serves its purpose very well!
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Breakdown of our tow equipment:
-Roadmaster EZ2 Baseplate Kit – Removable Arms
–Roadmaster 155 Taillight Wiring Kit
–Roadmaster 643 Safety Cables (2 Pairs)
–Roadmaster Flexo-Coil 7-Wire to 4-Wire Cord Kit
–Roadmaster Falcon 2 Tow Bar
-RVibrake2 Auxillary Braking System w/ Emergency Breakaway Kit
Coming up next, I’ll breakdown the monstrosity that sits on the back of our RV, in addition to the Spark!
See you on the road!
Ryan, Kim and Jet