A hitch is a horrible thing to waste. Yet how often do you actually have a trailer attached to the hitch receiver on the back of your pickup truck?
Just as we suspected: not very often. So, as we wandered around the most recent Special Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, we took note of a vast array of accessories designed to put some giddy-up in your hitch:
You can grille and go with this stainless steel propane grill with 30,000-BTU burners, 650-degree (Fahrenheit) capability and 384 square inches of cooking area. A pass-through collar allows use of an extended ball mount so the grill can ride along while your pickup tows a trailer or camper.
This pass-through feature was developed during prototype testing: tailgating at San Diego Chargers football games, where others who saw the prototype said they liked it, but wanted to be able to still use their hitch for towing. Imagine that!
Scott Salter and his buddies love to tailgate, and Salter was excited when his wife bought a new SUV, and then disappointed when she announced his greasy grill wasn’t going into her nice clean cargo area. So Salter went to work. He devised a hitch-mounted grill with a 180-degree swing-out arm so the grill can be transported behind your truck, then swung out to the side so you have access to the bed while dinner’s cooking. There’s also a stand available so the grill can be moved from your truck to your back yard or patio.
A kickstand helps support the grill when it’s swung into cooking position.
The hitch mount accepts a lock so the grill can be secured to the vehicle while you’re in the stadium, out on the water or hiking or hunting.
David Mendoza’s ShowFX Inc. does special effects and builds stage equipment for the entertainment industry, “particularly,” he says, “for rock ‘n’ roll and rap musicians, and those guys often have some pretty special vehicles. One day I was at one client’s rehearsal and was looking at his vehicle and it had a rear-view camera. I thought it was a great feature for someone like me, with young kids, something more people should be able to buy.”
But Mendoza didn’t like the way a hole for the camera lens had been drilled into the vehicle’s body, so he went to work with his engineers and machinists and came up with a camera mount that fits into a standard two-inch receiver hitch.
A keyed lock secures the camera and also makes it easy to remove when you need to use the hitch for towing.
A cable connects the camera with a 3.5-inch LCD monitor that mounts on the windshield next to the inside rearview mirror. Installation time, says Mendoza, is around 20 minutes, most of that spent threading the cable along the truck’s headliner.
Rear-view cameras, which are being installed as original equipment in larger sport utility vehicles, provide a view behind your vehicle so you don’t back up over a bicycle, pet or child.