The 2012 Toyota Tundra can tow almost anything you can throw at, especially when equipped with the 5.7-liter V-8 engine. That said, Toyota is about to throw the truck its biggest towing challenge yet: towing the Space Shuttle Endeavor.
The Space Shuttle Endeavor is on its way to the California Science Center in Los Angeles, but needs to be towed the 12 miles from Los Angeles International Airport to the Science Center. The first 11 ¾ miles will be executed with some sort of tractor trailer, but Toyota says the shuttle will travel the last ¼ mile behind a Toyota Tundra.
The truck in question is a standard 2012 Toyota Tundra 4x4 CrewMax with the 5.7-liter V-8, and has a maximum tow rating of 9000 pounds. The Space Shuttle Endeavor, meanwhile, weighs about 150,000 pounds. All told, the Space Shuttle and the custom transporter upon which it will ride total 292,500 pounds, 32.5 times the Tundra's tow rating. Toyota claims that the truck in question has no performance modifications (i.e. a TRD supercharger), and no other modifications to augment the truck's ability.
How will this work? You'll have to ask a physicist for that one, because we're still a bit baffled ourselves. The Toyota Tundra and its V-8 generates 380 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, which should be enough to tow that 9000 pounds up hills and at highway speeds, and the 9000-pound tow rating also reflects the strength of the Tundra's brakes and its ability to pull all that weight to a stop. Taking hills or highway speeds out of the picture, it might not be far-fetched to tow nearly 300,000 pounds on a flat road no more than 10 mph. This also considers that the Tundra's four-wheel-drive system will be in low range, multiplying the engine's force. This was the key to success during British car show Fifth Gear's famous 2006 stunt, when one of the hosts used a VW Touareg V10 TDI to tow a Boeing 747.
The stunt will take place October 13th. Once the Space Shuttle Endeavor arrives at its final resting place, the California Science Center will put it on permanent display beginning October 30, 2012.