Period correct tires for your rad-era car

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Oct 18, 2021 | Radwood, GRM+ | Posted in Buyer's Guides , Features | From the Aug. 2021 issue | Never miss an article

Photography (Mostly) Courtesy Tire Rack

It’s the ’80s all over again: big hair, big flares and big airs. Thanks to events like Radwood, cars once relegated to the kids’ table now have a seat front and center. 

And if those cars are going to see the spotlight, they deserve appropriate tires. “I personally think period-correct is best,” says Tim McNair of Grand Prix Concours, a guy who regularly judges and details multi-million collector autos but also has a Lancia Delta Integrale back at home. 

Whether or not they still sport tread, all tires should be pulled from service around their sixth birthday. For traditional classics–think prewar through the ’70s–a world exists for fresh tires that mimic ones from days past. For later classics, that market is emerging, and here are a few favorites. Your local shop might not stock these retro tires, but several online specialists can deliver them, including Tire Rack, Summit Racing and Coker Tire.

Yokohama’s famed A008 line that defined the ’80s is still available stateside, provided you have one of two cars: a classic Mini or a G-body Porsche 911.

 

The Toyo Proxes RA1 dates back to 1991, so why not add them to that ’90s performance build? Available sizes run down to a 205/60R13.

 

While aimed at ’80s supercars, the relaunched Pirelli P Zero also comes in a the ever-popular 205/50R15 size. 

 

Vredestein calls its Sprint+ suitable for modern European classics, as it comes in appropriate sizes like 195/60R15, 205/55R15 and 215/50R15. The line also includes a few 17s.

 

Cooper still offers the Cobra Radial G/T with raised white letters in both 14- and 15-inch sizes.

 

Pirelli has also put its P700-Z, an icon of the late ’80s and early ’90s, back into production. Offered sizes include the 225/45R16 for the original M3.

 

The BFGoodrich Radial T/A line is still available, raised white letters and all, with sizes ranging from 205/60R13–perfect for that early RX-7–up to a super-meaty 295/50R15.

 

Pirelli’s hot performance tire in the mid-’70s was the Cinturato P7, and it’s back. Tire Rack stocks 16-inch sizes targeted at the Porsche market.

 

The ’90s-looking Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2 comes in just two 16-inch sizes–205/55R16 and 225/50R16–intended to cover the Porsche 911 and 928.

 

To complete that Fox-body Mustang restoration, Goodyear Collector Series offers the Eagle Gatorback in the proper 225/60VR15 size. Ten-hole alloys sold separately.

 

The Goodyear Collector Series covers those ’80s Camaros and Firebirds, too, with its 215/65R15 Eagle GT. 

 

The Michelin Pilot SX MXX3, a top-performance radial in the ’80s and ’90s, is back, with available sizes for ’80s-era Porsches: 205/55R16 and 245/45R16.

 

Michelin introduced the low-profile radial tire to the world in 1975 via the TRX model line. The system used metric-sized tires and rim diameters and was eventually found on many world-class machines, including the BMW M6 and Ford Mustang SVO. The TRX system eventually faded from use, but Michelin Classic offers reproductions. 

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Radwood and GRM+ articles.
Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/24/21 9:43 a.m.

Ouch on some of the tire prices from Goodyear. I looked at a set of the Gatorbacks for my Fox body and $330 a tire. I know the cost of low run stuff is more expensive but that is double just about every other 225 15" tire. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/24/21 9:52 a.m.

I've talked to those on the production side. Making low-volume tires--whether R-comps or retro--isn't an inexpensive proposition. 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/24/21 10:17 a.m.

I really wish BFG would offer the T/A in the 175/70-13 size like they did back in the day (I had a set on my '82 Subaru 4WD wagon)... That would be the perfect Spitfire/GT6 tire.  Just sporty enough to be fun without putting too much extra stress on barely adequate suspension components.

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
6/24/21 11:03 a.m.

Oh I know David. No doubt the cost of one off manufacturing is a lot more. I would be interested more if it was closer to $250 range since I've got some craptastic tires on the 4 eye right now and really want to put something better on there. I applaud them for doing that and making it available. 

Jeff Forss
Jeff Forss New Reader
6/24/21 12:03 p.m.

In reply to Ian F (Forum Supporter) :

205 60 13? I have those on my Monza. But, are they really a "performance tire"? Or more of a "style tire"?

jimbbski
jimbbski SuperDork
6/24/21 2:16 p.m.

I just wish I could find a 185/60X13 tire for my project car that wasn't made in China!  You can get sizes bigger and smaller but not this size except in a track only tire! 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/24/21 2:54 p.m.

In reply to Jeff Forss :

No... Unfortunately, a 175 just barely fits under the front fenders.  And even then will rub if the car has been lowered a bit.

Part of the problem is Spitfire owners are notoriously cheap and whine if tires cost more than $50 each.  I'd be willing to pay much more than that for a good tire, but I seem to be in the minority. 

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/24/21 5:02 p.m.

I feel like this is appropriate for this thread from 1987, my Dad had the poster version framed to hang in his office and it now hangs in my hobby room. No, I won't be buying vintage tires for my E28 though, I'm happy with the modern options.

 

Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
6/24/21 5:07 p.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

I really wish BFG would offer the T/A in the 175/70-13 size like they did back in the day (I had a set on my '82 Subaru 4WD wagon)... That would be the perfect Spitfire/GT6 tire.  Just sporty enough to be fun without putting too much extra stress on barely adequate suspension components.

Hell yeah. Here's my 85 Accord with a set of T/As in 1989:

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/24/21 5:14 p.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

I really wish BFG would offer the T/A in the 175/70-13 size like they did back in the day (I had a set on my '82 Subaru 4WD wagon)... That would be the perfect Spitfire/GT6 tire.  Just sporty enough to be fun without putting too much extra stress on barely adequate suspension components.

I have the +1 (well, +.5) for that, the 205/60.

It is not an especially grippy tire.  It is easy for my worn out limited slip to break the inside tire loose from diff lockup when accelerating around a corner.

...gratuitous shot since I have been driving it regularly, and it's right there in the parking lot.  Can't believe this car is almost 41 years old!

 

Still have not been able to wash the blue protectant off of the lettering.  I think the Mexican factory used Krylon, not soap.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/24/21 5:43 p.m.
bmw88rider said:

Ouch on some of the tire prices from Goodyear. I looked at a set of the Gatorbacks for my Fox body and $330 a tire. I know the cost of low run stuff is more expensive but that is double just about every other 225 15" tire. 

If it is any consolation, that is also what they cost 20 years ago, in 2001 dollars.

The first over-$1000 set of tires I ever did was a set of Gatorbacks for someone who just HAD to have them for his Mustang because that was OE.

Run_Away
Run_Away Dork
6/24/21 5:53 p.m.

These tires are before my time.

 

Anyone remember the coloured BFG tires? Scorcher or something. You could get a yellow, blue, or red stripe. That ad with a yellow bugeye with the yellow tires was one of the coolest things in high school.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/24/21 6:04 p.m.

In reply to Run_Away :

Yep.  They went from having one color per tire to having all the colors in every tire, because it turns out some gangs use red and blue for self identification, and they were doing burnouts with those tires to tag streets...

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/24/21 6:05 p.m.

In reply to Run_Away :

I thought Falken made those?  

malibuguy
malibuguy GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
6/24/21 7:34 p.m.

A few tires Id love to see again, the Yoko AVS Sport, the Prada, BFG Scorcher and...maybe GoodYear Aquatred II

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/24/21 7:40 p.m.

Check out the specs for the Yokohama Advan HF Type-D A008. The listing includes a 205/50R15. Sadly, not imported to the U.S.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
6/24/21 7:44 p.m.

So, looks like I can a set of those Yokohamas from Nengun: $324.37 per tire in a 205/50R15 plus $659.73 for economy shipping. So, basically, two grand. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
6/24/21 7:49 p.m.

Modern rubber makes an old ride way better.  Unless you are scoring concours points, this is a hard pass to me.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
6/24/21 8:14 p.m.

In reply to AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) :

NEW tires make an old ride way better.  It is amazing how well those "old" new BFGs ride compared to the 15 year old "new" tires on my other RX-7.  Both cars have similar spring rates for the cars' weights, and those "old" BFGs have smaller diameters and shorter sidewalls.  It's not just tread rubber that ages and gets hard, the rest of the tire does too.

 

Some of my favorite tires were the AVS intermediates that came with my Golf.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
6/25/21 12:00 a.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Yes but NEW, NEW tires are way better. GRM should do a road test of these Dino designs compared to newer designs.  Even these old designs made from newer rubber compounds won't come close to a Michelin PS4 or Conti ECS in performance or ride. 
 

I don't drive for car show trophies, so I'm out.

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
6/25/21 6:57 a.m.

For the re-makes of old designs, I wonder if the compounds, etc. have been updated?  So are they truly just a new copy of an old tire, or is it really more of a new tire with the proportions and tread pattern of an old one? 

Our Preferred Partners
orWtQSQLsxx7r6wngaEsL0d6TV6Lzqh3RvqTtpjqAyp7w1bexmvNLrgwMQJG6X0E