Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
George asks: You’ve written about problems finding tires for your muscle car because of the limited availability of performance tires for the original wheels. Why not just use larger wheels? Would this devalue the car?
My reply: The wheel does turn!
A good example being that when muscle cars were new all the then-available performance tires were made for them – for the obvious reasons. One was that back in the ’60s and ’70s, a 15×7 or 15×8 wheel was about as big a wheel as came on a performance car. And almost all of them were . . . stamped steel. Aluminum or “mag” (magnesium) wheels were extremely exotic until the mid-late 1970s, when aluminum wheels began to get traction. (Real magnesium wheels never did – outside of the race track.)
Today, a 15-inch wheel is a very small wheel. Only a few economy cars even offer them. Most new/late-model cars have at least 16 inch wheels and performance cars usually have 17 or 18 inch (or larger) wheels.
And so, all the performance tires – particularly those with H (130) or higher speed ratings – are made for those wheels. So if you want those tires, you have to change wheels.
Why don’t I?
I don’t like the look of wheels larger than 15×8 on the old stuff like mine; it changes the proportions in a way never conceived of 40-50 years ago. Modern 17-plus inch wheels are two-plus inches taller than 15-inch wheels; the tire’s sidewall is shaved down by about the same two inches, to make it all even out. This looks ok on a modern car designed for that look – but I think it looks awkward.
They also mar the historicity of the car.
One of the things that was appealing about the old muscle cars was that most came with or offered unique to that model/make wheels that helped define the car as (for example) a Pontiac and then a Trans-Am.
No other car came with Pontiac Rally or Honeycomb or Snowflake or Turbine wheels. And these wheels were all strikingly different-looking than wheels made by other car companies for their cars.
Modern wheels are – like modern cars – strikingly homogenous. Not ugly. But same-same. Variations of the same lattice/pie-cutter (and so on) themes. I can’t think of any new/late-model wheel that is immediately recognizable as a specific brand/model’s wheels.
So, for me, removing my TA’s 15×7 Honeycombs would be like performing plastic surgery on Elvis – when he was young and good looking – to try to “improve” him.
You can’t improve things that are right.
All you can do is change them – and not for the better!
. . .
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