Tyres for vintage cars

  • Author: OPONEO.CO.UK

Find answers to frequently asked questions about tyres for vintage cars. Where to look? What to remember? Check it out!
Which companies manufacture tyres for vintage cars?

The largest selection of tyres for classic cars – from the 1920s to the 1970s is made by:
- Michelin,
- Dunlop,
- Firestone,
- Avon,
- Goodyear,
- BFGoodrich,
- and more limited choice by: Lester, Denman, Coker Classic and US Royal.

The companies which specialize in the manufacture of the tyres for the vehicles from before World War II are:

- Universal,
- Excelsior,
- Blockley,
- Waymaster,
- Lucas.

Having a historic car can be a real fun. But the availability of suitable tyres might be troublesome.

Inch tyres for post-war classics are produced by:

- Pirelli,
- Camac,
- Cooper,
- Vredestein,
- Hercules,
- Premium Sport.

Metric tyres for post-war classics are produced by:

- Michelin,
- Dunlop,
- Avon,
- Pirelli.

Tyres with typical American sizes of the 50s and 60s, and alphanumeric of the 70s (marked for example F70-14) are offered by:

- Goodyear,
- American Classic,
- Firestone,
- BFGoodrich,
- Denman.

Tyres for historic military vehicles are offered by:

- S.T.A,
- Firestone,
- BF Goodrich,
- Denman,
- Deka,
- Tommell,
- Super Swamper.

The owners of classics with 15-inch wheels have the largest selection on the market.

Remember! Do not put inch tyres on metric rims.

 

Questions and Answers – Things to remember when buying tyres for historic cars

I bought 6.40-15 tyres over the Internet, exactly as provided by the manufacturer. After installation, it turned out that they rub when turning right. What's up?

The difference in the circumference of classic tyres of the same catalog size reaches up to 10-15 centimeters, depending on the manufacturer. It is not enough to know the tyre size and width of the rims they are to be put on. You should know what the exact circumference, or at least the height of the tyre, is. When buying tyres via the Internet – today this is the vast majority of transactions – you should confirm these parameters in advance with the seller. Good online stores provide detailed tyre dimensions in their product data sheets.

Learn more about tyre sizes, including custom ones.

I decided to buy contemporary 165 SR 13 tyres to my Taunus P7b. I have a feeling that after putting them on the speedometer began to overstate the indications.

No wonder. Modern tyres are usually smaller in diameter than their counterparts from 30-40 years ago. Therefore the principle of knowing the circumference/height of the tyre applies even to owners of cars from the 70s.

Can I use the old inner tubes for new tyres?

Each tyre imprints on the inner tube a unique mark. Therefore, a used tube will not work optimally with a new tyre, which increases the probability of failure. Therefore, we assume that new tres always go with new inner tubes.

In my BMW 635 CSi I have worn Michelin TRX tyres. I wanted to buy new ones, but their high price deterred me. I think I will turn to ordinary inch wheels.

Please do not give up easily, bite the bullet and collect the appropriate amount. The TRX is a class by itself! Its base are wheels of special design dedicated to metric tyre. They eliminate the "drifting" phenomenon of radial tyres when cornering. Both components of TRX system − rim and tyre − make a great tandem combining, like no other, precision of steering and comfort.

BMW 507 − a car produced in 1956-1959. Of 253 produced cars, 203 still exist and drive.

 

Questions and Answers – safe tyre operation for vintage cars

Is it worth changing cross-ply tyres to radial ones in my classic from the 60s?

Remember!
During the change from cross-ply to radial tyres it is worth raising the pressure by 0.3-0.6 bar.
It depends. If even sometimes you like to go fast on a winding road, it's worth it. European and Japanese cars usually respond favorably to such a change. It is different in the case of American cars from the 1950s and 1960s, since the design of the chassis certainly takes into account only the characteristics of cross-ply tyres. But there are no rigid rules, so before making a choice it is good to go online to consult owners of specific brands and models. If you transport your classic on platform trailer from show to show, you may want to invest in cross-ply tyres with a tread similar to the original. If both cross-ply and radial tyres were used in your classic car, depending on the version, it is worth, prior to changing to the radial tyres, to purchase rims that have worked together with them in the factory. This is because the cross-ply and radial tyres transfer different forces to the wheels.

I put on radial tyres instead of cross-ply ones. I inflated according to the manufacturer's standards, I went on the first ride and ... a disappointment! The car rides more comfortable, but it does not hold the road better, nor does it turn more precisely.

If we know the value of air pressure only for cross-ply tyres, it is worth trying to raise it by 0.3-0.6 bar. The behavior of the car should be improved without sacrificing the comfort. In the cars, in which cross-ply and radial tyres were used interchangeably, the latter always were given higher air pressure. Just to partially compensate for the much greater flexibility of their sides.

Antique cars perfectly reflect the atmosphere of "those times".

I cannot get anywhere 380 mm metric tyres, can I put 15-inch tyres on original rims?

Never put inch tyres on metric rims. Realistically, this may result in sliding the tyre of the rim while driving, usually on a sharp bend.

I have two wheels with cross-ply tyres and two with radial ones, which axis should I put them on?

With this arrangement, wheels with radial tyres should always be mounted on the rear axle.

I bought a beautifully preserved car, which has two used tyres from 20 years ago, with their vent spews still on. Can I use them?

Remember!
Tyres older than 10 years should be absolutely replaced with new ones for safety reasons. Regardless of the degree of tread wear.


Unfortunately not. It is true that in the classics, usually kept in garage in a friendly environment and not used in winter, tyres age more slowly. Nevertheless, tyres older than 10 years should absolutely be replaced with new ones, regardless of tread wear, for safety reasons. We do not know what is happening beneath the layer of an old rubber tyre, e.g. how advanced is the corrosion of the matrix. With the negative scenario, a situation can occur that under the heavy load the carcass will peel away from the rest of the tyre, causing a sharp drop in air pressure, destroying the wheel arch and fender (described case is authentic, it is a miracle that it did not end in an accident). For the same reasons we do not buy brand new tyres, which have lain several dozen years in someone's garage.

Competitions of vintage cars have become an increasingly popular entertainment.

In my car, air pressure is given only in "psi". How much is that in bars?

Psi is pound per square inch − customary measure of air pressure in the US and British cars. To get a result in the bars just multiply the psi by 0.06985.

During the first ride after the winter, the tyres in my classic "rumbled" terribly for the first kilometers. Then the phenomenon gradually subsided. What happened?

As a result of a prolonged standstill, the tyre deformed at the point of contact with the ground. Fortunately, only temporary. If the car is not moving for more than 2-3 weeks, you should set it on pins, or at least change its position by around a dozen centimeters. And do not forget to check tyre pressure regularly, even during long standstill. Tyres which stood for many months without air, laden with the weight of the car, should only be thrown away.

I want white sides of the tyres in my Fiat 125p from 1968. How to do it well and how to take care of them?

Remember!
White sides of the tyres must be maintained and cleaned with dedicated preparations exclusively. Other agents may accelerate their aging and yellowing.

It is best to buy tyres with white factory sides, vulcanized during the production process. A much cheaper but worse alternative is glued rings. They look nice until first rubbing against the curb. We do not recommend sticking them to radial tyres. The flexible sides of the radials − working much more than in cross-ply tyres − can thus be damaged. White sides of tyres must be maintained and cleaned with dedicated preparations exclusively. Using commonly available bleaching detergents dramatically accelerates their aging and yellowing.

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