Tundra Tugs Space Shuttle Without a Hitch

A Tundra Tug 2 II

By now you've seen the YouTube posts and news stories about the Endeavour space shuttle being transported through 12 miles of Los Angeles city streets. The event took about 17 hours longer than city and transportation officials anticipated, and it required some on-the-spot tree trimming to squeeze past a few narrow sections.

The Endeavour is now being housed at the California Science Center near the campus of USC, just south of downtown Los Angeles. The shuttle will eventually be displayed in its upright takeoff position.

We had the chance to see the shuttle up close Friday night when a fully loaded (unmodified) Toyota Tundra Limited CrewMax 4x4 towed the stripped-down shuttle over the Manchester Boulevard Bridge over the 405 Freeway, a central artery of Los Angeles. The freeway was closed in both directions for several minutes before the tow took place, to prevent any freeway collisions that could occur while the shuttle moved across the overpass.

The shuttle was parked at La Cienega and West Manchester boulevards for several hours as workers and city officials oversaw the switching of the trailer systems. Once hooked up to the Endeavour, the Tundra was piloted by professional stunt driver Matt McBride (whom you might recognize from a series of other death-defying Tundra commercials) and astronaut Garrett Reisman, who was taken to the International Space Station in Endeavour and spent 95 days in space. 

A Tundra pin

The actual towing the Tundra did with the shuttle took only four minutes, but it required some thoughtful prep. The tow hitch was modified to accommodate a specially designed drop pin. Also, since there would be no weight on the rear end of the truck, Toyota put a 1,700-pound weight in the back to give the rear tires some force for grip. Finally, the tire pressures were lowered to give the treads as much contact patch as possible. Once the prep was finished, all the driver had to do was put the truck into low range, drop it into 1st gear and keep the rpm steady. 

The actual distance the truck and trailer had to navigate was only about 300 yards, but as with most well-engineered bridges, there was a bit of a crown to it, so the pull up the initial front side of the bridge and back up the downhill section on the other side were the biggest challenges for the driver and truck. "The only point I felt the Tundra had to work a little harder was going back up the hill on the far side of the bridge. It was pulling pretty hard," McBride said.  

A Tundra bumper sticker II

The Tundra "big-pull" event was well-documented with video, camera crews and TV commercial filming. We're likely to see the footage in a series of Toyota commercials and possibly other media as well. Likewise, you can bet that local and national dealerships will use this historic opportunity to sell more trucks. In fact, we saw at least two different bumper stickers on the famous tow truck taking a jab at its half-ton competition.

Additionally, the actual Toyota Tundra that pulled the Endeavour will also end up at the California Science Center (dontated by Toyota), taking the place of a first-gen Tundra at the entrance of the museum, which gives a real-world, interactive demonstration of leverage (or fulcrums) to attendees. We expect more information to follow.

For more photos from the evening's events, go to the PickupTrucks.com Facebook page.  

A Tundra Tug




A Japanese truck pulling an American icon.

How did that happen?

Great advertising I guess... Although it will likely just mean more Tundra owners who think they can tow dangerous/excessive loads down the highway because they saw this on TV. Why I no longer tow with a 1/2 ton and can't stand how the manufacturers continue over glorify them as being capable of towing huge loads. This ad should have been done with an HD truck but then again Toyota doesn't have one.

Way to go Tundra!!! The mopar queens will be bashing this but think of this If that was a Ram with the weak Hemi pulling the shuttle what would we saw? We would have saw a a truck pulling the shuttle flying the Italian flag and saw a bunch of cheap chinese sheet metal fall off that Ram body. The Ram gives me the creeps A made in china product!! Assembled in Mexico u go Ram :)

I thought it was actually going to pull the shuttle the whole twelve miles. Why couldn't the Tundra have pulled it farther?

It only traveled 0.17 miles. What's up with that?

A 300 yd pull, and the truck is retired to the museum. Yep, sounds about right.

What is really interesting is in the real world...turdra lowered its tow rating..why is that?

Go watch some of the video on YouTube, the truck is in 4 wheel drive and back tires are spinning badly, still pretty cool and I do agree and Japanese truck pulling something American, I am a Dodge guy and would love to see a Cummins tug that thing down the line we all know it could but I am full blooded American hook a Ford Uper Duty up to that!!!

300 yards.. Hell I think I could pull it with my decade old S10 ZR2. Hell, hook up a John Deer tractor, that could easily pull it too. puhlease... talk about overhype.

Ford has a commercial of their F150 pulling an aircraft carrier. Something which can easily house the shuttle and any other number of aircraft.

Not impressed.

Is Sandman and Sandman 4x4 the same person?

They could have used a Super Dooty knowing the shuttle can handle the heat, but not the fans.



Which youtube video shows the Tundra spinning its rear wheels???? Not this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGlqLlIUIoM

The biggest problem with this site is the immature and adolescent fanboys like you who spew garbage out of your fourth point of contact along with outright lies at times.

Kudo's to Toyota on this one. Had it been a Chevy, Ford or Dodge I would say kudo's to them also.

So grow up, move out of your mom's basement and get a life slick.

Have a nice day junior.

@Frank & Dave,

A heavy-duty autonomous electric trailer carried the shuttle for most of the 8-mile route because the Endeavour is too large and heavy for the Tundra.

I'm curious, that hitch pin looks to be about an inch and a half thick. Why? If the tundra is really "unmodified", is all that weight being pulled through the 3/4" mild steel pin in the receiver hitch?

If towing the shuttle didn't cause enough stress to break a class III receiver hitch pin, than it wasn't much of a pull

What's next Pearl Harbor artifacts being pulled by a Japanese brand? Hope know one buys into this stunt, we already have enough Economic Terrorist supporting Japanese economy! America is so easy to forget, in 20 years the number one selling car might be from Bin Laden motors. That is all.

How could Americans, let important American history be towed by Jap crap?

Gary, MONEY TALKS! How did Toyota get into NASCAR.$$$$$$

Gary, because the Tundra is the most American truck out thier, its only inbreed, low IQ idiots like you that don't know what thier talking about.

More American than F-150? I don't think so. Calling someone low IQ doesn't make your point.

Donnie, Can you read the radiator cap on that tundra? Or does it read like this.ラドクリフ、マラソン五輪代表に1万m出場にも含み

By all accounts, including from people I know who are Toyota owners/fans, they are nasty men who throw fits and tantrums if you don't agree with them. Some of them even post on this forum.

Toyota is recalling a breathtaking 7.4 million vehicles worldwide for a power window glitch that is a potential fire risk. It's the single biggest recall in the industry since Ford recalled 8 million cars in 1996 for an ignition issue that also could have caused engine fires.



Ford & Toyota!!

Wow,A Toyota article and immature,jealous people are bashing the RAM !! I guess when you have the best truck (RAM) you cannot escape criticism ,by jealous uneducated brand x owners !

Cheverolet is and will always be number one. More Chevy trucks on the road with over 200K then any other brand.

I was there with two of my sons and several TV news-crews friends for the whole shooting match, beginning to end, and we actually followed behind the shuttle, on foot, except for the times we were drop-dead tired and had to get a few zzzzzzzzzzzzzzs in.

It was a long and drawn-out great experience, a little too hot at times, but a once-in-a-lifetime rally. And the wives were terrific, doing all the picking us up and dropping us off, and bringing us food and water or ferrying to and from the next staging area.

It was like a marathon, except we walked all the way. A lot of people were doing the same. We were just a small group in a very large crowd. It was a good thing they had plenty of portapotties along the route.

Many Tundra owners drove a long way just to be there and were easily identified by an American flag on their lapel or shirt. Many also wore Tundra badges and gear to identify themselves.

Lots of addresses and phone numbers exchanged. We had a great time! This really did happen. I was there and I have my own pictures to prove it.

Yoytota needs all the hype (i mean help) they can get to push yearly sales up over the 100 mark. I think this just might do that. (YAY!)

Meanwhile, record numbers of Ford F-Series are seen everywhere...

I would have rather seen it towed with a F-150 Eco Boost!

Their is no other half ton that would have pulled this amount of weight without dropping a rear end on the bridge, that is why they used a Toyota and not a American POS. That is the truth and you all no it.... End of of debate, close this book!

@HarleyF-150: the weak Hemi? You for sure don't know much about engines. The Tundra 5.7 makes a tad more torque below 2400 rpm. After 2400 the Hemi is with it, then at about 3500 or so it keeps making torque while the I-Force Tundra falls. So the Tundra peaks 400 rpm sooner to make a bit less torque, but by 4000 it is loosing torque. It is still a much broader range of torque the Fords two current truck v-8s, which need to be revved higher. But not as broad as the Hemi in torque output. The Tundra needs four valves and headers and more complex valvetrain timming to do that with a couple more cubic inches, yet just a tad less compression then a Hemi.

The real star of the Tundra that misleads people is it's final drive gear ratios are much lower then Rams, the transmission 3.33 first and the 4.30 gears, compared to the Rams 3 to 1 first and 3.92 gears. The Tundra has a bit more closer second gear then the Ram too. This results in people winning races and pull offs alot. But it's not cause the engine.

If you wanna talk about weak, how about the fact Ford just can't get enough low speed power out of a naturally aspirated v-8,they need blowers or turbos for v-6s. The 6.2 is a big joke, sure it makes more power, only cause, um, it's bigger! In a 2500 aplication it barely makes more power then a Hemi! That there is funny, I don't care who you are! It also has to be spun a higher rpm to do it, even with a better stroke to bore ratio then a Hemi has! The 5.0 does pretty good for it's size, but it too is a bit peaky.

It'll be a differant ball game for these towing and accelleration contests on this and other sites and magazinesnow now that the Ram has a better set of gear choices in the trans, and a much lower starting ratio. Even the Ford 5.0s looked good due to their higher starting ratios. Oh well, people don't get it.

As for the Ram parts made in China, uh the Ram might be less US/Canadian content by 5% to Ford, but the Ram is a hell of alot more NORTH AMERICAN! So if the current F-150 is 75% US/Canadian, and the Ram is 70% US/Canadian but 18% Mexico part content, who is getting more parts from overseas? You are! Pretty sure you get alot of Chinese made parts, as Ford seems to lead the way in building and buying from alot other places. They build alot of cars in Mexico (if that is so bad like you say?) The money from those cars is spent on your truck.

So if Mopar fans are mopar queens, does that make you a Ford queen?

And last, if Ram ever had a Harley edition I really couldn't care. When you buy a Harley you pay for a name. An engine that is behind alot of other Japanese and Italian made bikes in tech. And one that will not last as long. Sorry folks....now I will get flammed-oh well!

The only thing that matters here is,
who stepped up to the plate?

I dont want to hear any hick remarks either.


@Lou-You are right Toyota was the only one who stepped up to the plate. For all you fanboys money talks and if you are not willing to pay to play then you will not get the publicity. It is obvious that Chrysler, Ford, and GM were not interested in paying for this priviledge so they do not get the notoriety from towing the Space Shuttle. Unless you are willing to pay for your favorite brand to tow the space shuttle then you are not sincere. If any of the Big 3 were willing to pay for this then they would have gotten the notoriety. Otherwise complain to the Big 3 American Corporations.

Honestly, who cares? It was a marketing ploy that any manufacturer would have leveraged to the hilt. The fact that it ended up being Toyota is meaningless.

@Lou: it's not like they were taking bids for it, Toyota already had a connection with the people at the museum. Many others could have, but they wanted Toyota. Toyota had to hook one up to it to try it first, (see you tube) to make sure they weren't embarassed. Or maybe to make mods to it, before they did it for show? Woulda been better if they let one person randomly choose any 4x4 crew max with 4.3 gears. Like if they had a contest. Then let the winner/picker ride in it.

I wonder how much it REALLY weighed? You think they would leave all that stuff in it? Yes, it weighs a hell of alot still, but they just want some advertising. Or they need some, cause they are second to last in full size!

@Jeff S,
Actually, Toyota and The California Science Museum have been business partners for a very long. The Museum first asked Toyota to pull the Endeavor.

"The tow was a result of a 20-year partnership between Toyota and the California Science Center to raise awareness of the space program and continue public education through exhibits and events."


This is what I think of their pull: @ 3:27


this is probably the same weight to power ratio, and if it's not, well it's with old technoligy and worn out!

Before Tundra, oops, I mean Hemi LOL makes a comment on Dodge Dana rear axles, all I have to say is: Dana 60. 151,000 on the 60 floater axle in my 72 RV, oh, that's plus. Still going. The odometor quite.

Oh, but those were up and down hills, unlike this pull on a flat. The driver said something about crown on the bridge, I wonder how little of a crown it was?

Sad. This should be a Ford or Chevrolet truck pulling the shuttle to rest. The only true two American nameplates left. Toyota, Nissan and GovtMoCo need not apply. I suppose Dodge would maybe be acceptable.

Toyota, Nissan and GovtMoCo need not apply

-Amen to that!

"This should be a Ford or Chevrolet truck pulling the shuttle to rest."

Then this,
"Toyota, Nissan and GovtMoCo need not apply."


The insecurity shown by grown men on here is stunning.

It's called marketing. It's not an attack on your manhood because "your" truck didn't do this stunt.

Face it, it's a great piece of marketing no matter who did it.

@Lou and Jeff S
It would be a very embarassing moment to be an American on this site.

I can't believe the simplistic rural type of behaviour on display.

They only worry about the brand name on the bonnet (hood) and tailgate.

Ram is owned by the Italians, alot of the pickups sold are made in Mexico and Canada.

A lot of parts are from China, Japan, Europe and even Australia. My sister used to work at a factory here that made tail light assemblies for your pickups.

I don't think alot on this site can comprehend the difference between patriotism and nationalism.

Yup, the world lies between Canada and Mexico and seems to be very flat.

"The only thing that matters here is,
who stepped up to the plate?

I dont want to hear any hick remarks either.

Posted by: Lou | Oct 16, 2012 4:09:29 PM"


I do agree with the hick remarks though!

It isn't so much who stepped up to the plate. Any pickup could tow the Endeavour.

I'd have to say that Toyota took advantage of being a prime sponsor for the California Science Center. Their donations allowed them the right to request the tow and they earned the privilege.

Kudos to Toyota and Tundra for a once in a lifetime chance.

I find it very very odd that Americans forget their roots and the pillars of belief that the USA was built upon:

- A free country populated by free people allowed to freely do as they chose.
- A country based upon people coming from all over the globe to live and to succeed in turn making the USA the strongest country in the world.

That also applies to corporations setting up shop in the USA.
They succeed and America suceeds.

We were all foreigners to North America at one time.

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

—Emma Lazarus, 1883

It seems to me that most of the posters on this thread do not remember or believe in the sonnet written by Emma Lazarus in 1883.
Ignorance, racism, confusing nationalism with patriotism, expecting special treatment or privileges solely based upon place of birth are some of the reasons why the USA is faltering.
Blame the person you see in the mirror for what is going on around you not the company who built the truck that towed the space shuttle on its historic final journey.
What an Endeavour!

Also for the Rednecks Hicks,
The name of the Shuttle is from a British naval ship the HMAS Endeavour.

The Endeavour was used by the British as a research, discovery and scientific vessel.

Captain Jame Cook was the Captain of the Endeavour. Himself with Joseph Banks and other scientists from the 18th Century made many discoveries.

This included laying claim to Australia for the British in 1770. He was killed in Hawaii.

This ship was around when the American Revolution was occuring.

Fancy calling one of your Shuttles after an enemy ship of the time!!

The Shuttle Endeavour was named not by nationality, but by the work achieved by another vessel on a similar quest.

This is what science is about (if you any rednecks understand what science is). It's there to benefit mankind, not some hillbilly from Hicksville USA.

Lou's arrogant comments about racists and the USA faltering takes the cake. You too need to look in your own mirror and watch the way you comment around here with that kind of arrogance, socialism and reverse racisim. Go ahead and post another poem. A wise man once said socialism breeds arrogant condescension and jealousy.


Is a troll someone who disagress with poor attitude and behaviour or even disagrees with your views?

A lot of contributors on this site have limited knowledge on what drives the world we live in, and why certain events occur.

Supporting a manufacturer isn't like supporting a sporting team. Supporting a country is patriotic, but being blinded or one eyed leads to nationalism, just like your support for Rams'.

I am not sure I understand all the hate other than the I hate Toyota crowd.This publicity stunt was nothing more than a high profile truck pull http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXMgwiIkdE4. That is the reason why I don't understand comments like why couldn't it puull it all the way?
I am not into truck pulls or Tug of war so this means nothing to me. What means something to me is the fact that the current 2nd gen Tundra is coming into its last MY as the 2014 MY is supposed to be the 3rd gen so why is Toyota trying to publicly show off the power of the 5.7L iforce and its gearing?

I have read rumors that the 3rd gen Tundra will feature the same drivetrains. I also noticed that the 5.7L iforce remains the same in the new Land Cruiser http://www.automobilesreview.com/auto-news/toyota-land-cruiser-chicago-auto-show/40109/. I am thinking this is Toyota telling us the 5.7L iforce and the rest of its drivetrain will go into to the 3rd gen unchanged despite the fact that a lot of Tundra owners have said they wanted direct injection and all of the competition will have changed their top engines since the 5.7L iforce and its drivetrain made its debut.

Big Al, I support AMERICAN jobs. Not just jobs. A good job. A union job. So AMERICANS can live and feed their families and have a pension when they can't work anymore. You think japanese drive AMERICAN cars. HELL NO! I won't drive a JAPANESE car, truck, or van. I owned a FORD and it was a pile. Caught on fire. I bought my first brand new vehicle. My 03 Ram.
I love it. Tows my trailer on and off the road. I drive in the sand dunes, the snow. My truck does everything I ask of it with gusto. It was the most powerful 1/2 on the market in 03. It has 74,500 miles now no problems no recalls. The 2013 Rams blow the rest away in innovation and technology. That is a fact.

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