It’s Time For A Rig Check

If you’re on social media and follow our Speedhunter regulars, chances are you’d have seen the ‘!!RIG CHECK!!’ caption flying around on posts for a little while now. Well, you can thank our own Ryan Stewart for it.

Back in 2021, Ryan needed a way to transport his then newly-acquired AE86 to events up and down the country and over to Ireland without having to drive it. He needed a tow vehicle, and blindly dove into tow truck ownership.


The truck in question was a mid-2000s Ford Transit flatbed, painted a mysteriously fetching shade of Nardo Grey. “It was a piece of turd; a rotten thing from a dodgy camp site, but I really loved it,” says Ryan.


At first I wasn’t very experienced with strapping cars down, so I would check the load frequently, stopping to check the straps and stuff, making sure it hadn’t moved.” Every now and then, this pitstop would be made at a scenic location where Ryan got to take a step back and enjoy the view. As any car guy would, he would pull out his phone and snap a photo.

He would then chuck it up on his Instagram story, with the caption: !!RIG CHECK!!.


Before I knew it, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed to find every other one of my friends with a trailer on tow posting their own photos, all with the same caption.


Naturally, people with impressive tow car and trailer loads were starting to get involved. And so a little trend was born.


Last year, when I attended Dorifest up in Scotland, I found myself walking about with my camera in my hand whilst everyone was packing up after a weekend of skid-car action.


Most of these people towed their cars in, and as they were loading up it dawned on me that what was a drift event for the whole weekend suddenly became a rig gathering to close things off.


I was at a weird melting pot of this new trend, almost feeling left out because I didn’t have a car or a trailer of my own there. But I did what I always do and started to snap away, capturing the backdrop images for this post.


Anyway, for some the tow rig is a work tool, whilst for others it’s a hobby and passion. I spoke to two of my towing pals, Austen and Latham, who sort of fall awkwardly in the middle of the two categories in regard to what they value in a tow car and what they can’t live without.


Austen drives an F15 BMW X5 30d, the black one loading up the green Chaser in the photos.

I wanted an X5 because they look sick,” started Austen, but he then went onto explain that besides the looks he needed something economical and reliable. There were bigger engines on offer, the 40d or 50d, but those came with more turbos and potentially more problems. “Can you imagine trying to work on that engine bay if something goes wrong, with two or three turbos in the way?


Economy and reliability is key as the X5 is also Austen’s daily. Beyond towing, it needed to do normal car things. It needed to be comfortable enough for trips to the shops, have a window line low enough for his dog to hang out from, and be big enough to get all his mates about in it.


Realistically though, a lot of vehicles can do that, so we go back to its towing abilities. “One thing I can’t live without is the self-levelling rear suspension,” says Austen. “It allows me to load the front of the trailer up to get better overall balance of car and trailer together. It’s safer, helps to avoid snaking and the car isn’t squatting as a result of it.”

I guess this is where modern technology trumps older, more conventional methods. Austen’s previous car, a BMW E39 saloon, didn’t have self-levelling on the rear, and it seems to be one of those things you can’t go without once you’ve had it.


Latham’s approach to his tow vehicle of choice was a little more utilitarian: “It was all about towing capacity for me,” he says. This was the key to the perfect rig check for Latham. In December 2021, the UK law on towing changed allowing your everyday Joe to tow a trailer and load adding up to 3,500kg without having to pass any sort of additional qualifications or tests. A normal driving licence is simply enough.


Each car has their own tow limit set by the manufacturer. This is an important thing to note when you’re choosing your own rig, as it really impacts what you can actually do with it. “If you want to tow anything with a combined weight of two tonnes, you really need a three-axle trailer and those can sometimes weigh a tonne themselves,” Latham tells me.

Latham has a catering business, selling tacos from his own food truck, and because of this he needed to tow the maximum amount of possible, meaning regular cars were out the question. An E46 330d Touring has a tow capacity of around 1,800kg; the equivalent X5 of the same generation (E53 30d) can tow nearly 1,000kg more. Modern AWD SUVs, such as the BMW X5 30d Austen has, have a towing capacity of 3,500kg. Again, in the rig check land, the classics simply get out-trumped by the modern kit.


So, Latham knew he needed a modern enough SUV to tow his business around.

The obvious place to start was German options – the X5, Mercedes-Benz G Wagon or ML, Porsche Cayenne or Volkswagen Touareg – all of which are reliable enough and pleasant enough inside to live with on a daily basis. While the Japanese options such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol and Mitsubishi Shogun have a great reputation for reliability and a growing image, their interiors just aren’t as nice as those found in their German counterparts.


American trucks are a bit odd ball here in the UK. They have huge running costs in terms of fuel and tax and they’ve got the steering wheel on the wrong side. They also don’t keep up with interior qualities in the German cars. The last option is British stuff: Jaguar Land Rover Discovery, Defender and the like. However, if you don’t have a warranty on those models you’re asking for headaches. Most of the time they’re a quick way to burn through some cash.


Now, some people do use vans, Ford Transits and Volkswagen Transporters being popular options. All fit the bill, however sometimes these require specific insurance policies which aren’t cheaper than a car. Of course, if part of your brief is the ability to daily your rig, a van really restricts this. I’m sure there are thousands of T5 owners who would argue against me and die on that hill, but luckily for us this is my article. They’re great for moving stuff about, but not quite the perfect daily driver as an SUV is.


So, where did Latham end up? With a VW Touareg. He’s a calculated man and the math added up for him. That, and they’re famous for towing a Boeing 747 jumbo jet on Top Gear, which is probably the coolest accolade to have on any CV. A taco van should be no problem then.


So, you maybe wondering, does Ryan still own the crusty Transit? Well, no, he doesn’t. Ryan too did the maths, and whilst his AE86 is probably as far from a Boeing 747 as a car could be, he also couldn’t resist the Touareg.

I’ll leave you with a question: What’s your tow vehicle of choice? I’m sure some of our American readers will embarrass us Brits here…

Michał Fidowicz
Instagram: candyshowroom

Additional Photography by Ryan Stewart
Instagram: 7.nth



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Great article about the side effects of any racing activities out there - most often overlooked.

Being a consultant for Japanese model kit manufacturer AOSHIMA some years ago, they asked me which new kit they should bring into the European market specifically - but with a very limited budget for licensing. This immediately canceled any wishes for 80/90's and newer BMW and Mercedes-Benz kits. However, what my modeling friends and I longed for was a modern car trailer, because everything available in 1:24/25 scale was old 1970's heavy iron stuff from the USA. I suggested it and had to explain the idea of towing cars with trailers, as this isn't common practice in Japan. The CEO greenlighted the project on the spot and with three good friends of mine we developed the kit in record time, with much appreciated support from Brian James Trailers. The very conservatively planned first production run of the BJT A4 trailer sold out in a week and it has been produced with higher numbers many times since. The kit number is 4905083-052600, should you have the urge to buy one after reading the above article.

Best regards

PS: The choice of trailer wheel designs available these days would warrant another article from Michal. ;-)


Sebastian, what an awesome story and comment! Thank you for sharing!


This is awesome Sebastian! I recently got into building models (my first kit was from Aoshima), and I will be on the lookout for this trailer! :)

4 AOSHIMA kits. They always have the stuff that Tamiya wouldn't do

Great article Michał


How about Volvo XC90 D5 second gen? Is anyone using it to tow track car? How do you like it? Seems it's great family car and could be great tow car. I'm considering it as my next car.


Well, over here in the states pickup trucks are mostly used for towing, trailers for camping, cars, boats, etc… diesel trucks are popular for tow capacity and long term use, some engines and transmissions combinations are better. Towing with other cars even though it says it can tow say 3500 lbs, it may not be the best idea as transmissions can wear out faster. I say can because of many factors involved. The bigger trucks offer an over inflated confidence as well, this at times ends in accidents.


Food hunting a couple of years ago and now rig hunting. 2 looked over subjects that are very essential in any event (not only car related). SH never stops delivering.
Rig hunting is a very wide class, as stated in the article you can go form a flatbed (open or closed) or trailer; then if you opted for trailer you have the towing rig options. Add to that local regulations and you have an never ending list of the "best option".
For me, vans and trucks with seperation in between the cab and the bed can't be registered with a normal driving license and a trailer more than 2.5T also needs a special driving license so the best option is an SUV with a trailer less than 2.5T; other option is always renting or hiring someone to tow it (i see it more convenient if it's occasional).


Where are you based Ishac?

I won't lie, our newly found towing freedoms in the UK have really changed people's perspectives on towing and really allowed people to save money in areas where previously they would pay for towing, etc etc


Lebanon, basically all the MENA area has similar rules.
For example a friend has to go though a very long procedure for registering a 150 raptor in Oman 1 of the papaers he signed is that it's not inteted to be used for business (hauling, transport of goods in mass quantites,..). Locals there has slightly easier process but still harder than registering a "regular" car.
You can always bend the rules and register it as a farm truck or through a friend who has a small business but reselling will be a nightmare.


I would say a nice big ram dually but really a Q7 or Touareg turbo-diesel would be the ideal


especially the V12 turbo-diesel for the Q7


I fall into the daily/family car/tow category and bought a Mercedes GL350 Bluetec, X164 chassis. It was cheap to buy and I bought a "base" model so there would be less things to break and go wrong. Comfortable enough for daily, being diesel gets decent mileage and towing power, and great to throw all my daughters things in to it.


Great compromise and alternative to the other German stuff I mentioned!


My tow rig is a a 2011 Holden Commodore SSV Wagon, M6, gen 4 LS


Woah, big energy right there! Wish we got these cars in the UK...


You did get the Vauxhall VXR8


Impossible to find as a tourer though!


Mint, what do you tow? I have a 2012 SS sedan with a towbar and I've been thinking about towing a couple things with it lately.


Ski boat or GT86 or WRX


Saw this rig at a track day in Ecuyers last year. Pretty excellent- and it sounded great too!


Great rig check


My Alfa road train


Damn you are the cool guy in your town! That is sooooo cool!


WOW! Rig check winner at the moment


My workhorse is my trusty 2004 land rover discovery td5... even with incredible high road tax in holland it was cheaper to run compared to my previous car, a volvo v70 r awd.

In 7 years of ownerships 2 times a breakdown, an alternator and a fuelline failure... both due to age


0 to 100km/h in 10minutes tho


Haha the two car trailer is crazy, love seeing those. Glad to hear your Disco has been largely trouble free!


I'm always laughing how Transporter is still considered as king of Vans in europe- We were traveling by car from Poland to Spain at once and Renault Trafic RULES the roads. I dont like T5, I have compairsion in work T5 VS Renault Trafic, and -besides- all (post 2000) renault cars are sh*t, Trafic is one of the best cars to repair. You can deatach the whole front end for about 40 mins and have acces to ANYTHING in engine bay. My firend has an Inline 5 TDI (famous "half of Touaregs V10 TDI") And its nightmire to do anything under the hood. Also all the time sounds like broken, this engine is very loud beacuse solid-sporcket timing mechanism.

Also I like how people blindly falling in love with those over-engineered new BMWs. I wish all whorst fory anyone who buys these cars. Half of those super-duper technological quirks are useless and soon to be unuseable, because some sensor- deep between cylinders is melted by heat...
"Because it looks cool"
Dude, OK, but you wave to repair this crap by yourself. Dont forget to snap the foto with X5 with trailer loaded onto trailer.

Buying uneriable cars is tacit approval for car makers to keep on producin unreliable cars. Period
And funniest thing is US reders don't know what I am saying. Because all these situations are insatly reported to lawsuit with car maker!

is Infamous N47 offered in US? No. Because only european consumer can be assf**ed without soap.


Now this gives me a whole different kind of appreciation for tow rigs man we need a dedicated post for tow rig builds
Idk why now but it's all of the sudden so cool to see one at an event at a show it shows how versatile of a vehicle it is


You know what, I agree. I never really noticed them when I was younger, probably because my mind was preoccupied by what was on the trailer to begin with!


Best I've had so far is my B8 Passat, with a light trailer it's enough to tow my JZX90, tools and drift spares :)


Good set up!




Since I was a little boy I loved car trailers, maybe due to travelling with car and caravan since I was born.

I love to see what people use to pull the trailer of the race car or the stance car as some people does not have it road legal.

Hope to see more of this!!


Thank you! I'll keep rig checks in mind for my future show coverage for sure.