Reader Qs (Aug. 7, 2017)

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Here is the latest reader Q, along with my reply: 

Robert asks:

Trying to find your article on the 13 inch tire. My ’63 Nova has a four lug 13 inch tire and I plan on keeping it that way even though most change rearends and spindles. I also plan to keep the drum brakes and find that they work fine – so does the manual steering.  Not sure why people think the way they do – but to be honest – most think my thinking is impossible. I just like the stock feel and the simplicity.  Putting in a rebuilt 250 six and will use Clifford’s system with dual Webers and headers.  I would like to have the original rearend rebuilt with positraction but may need to have a custom one built by Moser or Currie.

My Reply:

I’m with you, Robert!

My ’76 Trans-Am is a little “newer” than your ’63, but like yours, my car is also built the way cars once were. It is pretty simple – and I like that about it. I’ve had friends razz me about the factory 15 inch steel wheels; egg me on to replace them with 18 or 19 inch aluminum wheels.

Yes, this would make it easy to find a set of high-performance tires for the car. It is virtually impossible to find other than generic all-season tires for a 15 inch wheel.

But going with 18 or 19 inch wheels would also mean upsetting the stock/factory suspension geometry – necessitating expensive modifications to the suspension, such as tubular A-arms and coil-overs. Why do this? In my opinion, you might as well just buy a modern car, if you want a modern car. Updating an old car this way takes away what makes it different from a modern car.

I know, I know. I can hear the catcalls across the WiFi… but the car would handle so much better!

Well, so? If I wanted a new Corvette or Camaro, I’d buy one. I like the different feel – and look – of my ’76. Just as you prefer your ’63.

The good news – to get back to your question – is that 13 inch tires are available. Have you tried Coker? See here.

The main problem for people like us who have older cars with smaller wheels is finding high-performance (speed rated) tires. I’m assuming this is a non-issue with your car.

As far as the rest: I’d keep the stock brakes and and so on, too. The work perfectly well and – as you note – are simple and inexpensive. Also, by keeping your car stock, you preserve its historical value.

Modifying it takes away from that.


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