I recently got a very nice set of original '68 styled steel wheels from Don, and I’m looking forward to completing my vision for a more original looking setup on my car, with the drivability of radials. The problem is, there aren’t a lot of good tire options if you want narrow whitewalls like these cars originally came with. The only way you can get a correct looking 3/8" white stripe is by paying upwards of $280 per tire for custom ones from Diamond Back, or BFG Silvertowns from Coker. And while I think they look really great, I’m not feeling excited about spending over $1000 on 4 tires.
So this is a thread for regular plebeians to talk about alternatives from “normal” manufacturers that look good for a reasonable price. In particular, 14" whitewall tires on factory styled steel wheels. I’d like to hear feedback / see pics from anyone who has experienced any of the listed tires, or has other alternatives I’ve missed.
For my purposes, I’ve been looking at the 215/70R14 size, since that’s supposedly the closest thing to the correct size. It’s also the closest equivalent to what I currently have (225/60R15) Let me know if I’m mistaken. Anyway, here are the options I could find and my initial impressions:
Milestar MS775 Touring SLE - This looks the most promising to me, since the sidewall is a relatively smooth, simple design. Whitewall looks to be a pretty standard size (1/2"?)
Uniroyal Tiger Paw AWP II - Also a good looking tire with a decent sidewall design, but I found a lot of people on other forums talking about how badly they stain and turn brown, no matter how much you try to clean them. Red flag.
Nexen N’Priz AH5 - These look okay, but seem like lower end tires. Not in love with the sidewall / logo either.
Hankook Optimo H724 - Not quite the size I’m after, these are available in 195/75R14. As tires I’m sure these are very good. And the white stripe is a good size. I just really don’t like the modern swooshy graphics on the rest of the sidewall. This pretty much ruins it for me (aside from the size issue).
Keep your eyes peeled at swap meets and you will sometimes find near new bias repro take offs for under $500 a set. Drivability is not as terrible as some say as long as you have a tight suspension. Keep your radial set for long distance and Bias for around town. Nothing beats the look…
The Milestars look decent but the whitewall is more like 1.1". The original whitewalls were much thinner at around 3/8".
I used bias ply tires well into the 1970’s on my daily drivers because they were cheap to buy at junk yards. They drive fine so long as the tread is reasonable. I agree with Don you may find some fairly inexpensively.
Well, I was all excited to chime in until I saw you didn’t want to go the Diamondback route.
I look at these cars like this and this is just the way I operate: When it comes to large purchases like this, I’m never truly happy unless I get exactly what I want. I look at how much I’ve already spent elsewhere on the car, just like you did. I also look at what it’s going to cost if I cheapened out and went with something else, only to regret it later, and then going and getting what I should have gotten in the first place, thus paying twice.
I have a close friend who was on the fence regarding spending money on a custom set of wheels for his 1948 Ford Street Rod project. I told him to just go and get them because eventually… “you’re going to end up doing that anyway.” So he did and he tells me EVERYTIME I SEE HIM, “I’m glad you talked me into those wheels.” Honestly, they really make the car.
Like you, I also have multiple cars that vary greatly in terms of the amount of work I’ve put into them, sentimental value, what I use them for, and what they’re actually worth. When it comes to one of them needing something, large or small, I look at all those factors before determining how far I’m willing to bend over.
I went the Diamondback route on my wife’s convertible. I was also having trouble finding whitewalls that I liked in the size I needed. They were going to be expensive anyway, so I just decided to pony up and order exactly what I wanted. The sidewalls are perfectly smooth except for the whitewall, no lettering, logos or anything. I could justify it because on that car, I didn’t need to do any really hard-core mechanical work. I didn’t need to rebuild the engine or trans, the suspension is stock and I really only spent money on getting a new top put on and the paint and body materials that I sprayed myself.
I could be wrong but I think your Cougar is your #1 child, and then there are all the others. I would act accordingly.
Thanks Mark, and it’s not that I don’t want to go the Diamondback route, I’m just having a hard time justifying paying more than 3X the price of ‘normal’ tires for the sake of a little white stripe. But you raise a fair point that I’ve already gone all-in on this car, so it might be dumb to compromise now and potentially have regrets later. Just have to decide how much this aspect matters to me. Either way, I was curious to hear opinions and I appreciate yours!
It was a Corvette forum, and if I remember right, the thread was called “Done with Tiger Paws” so it sounded like the guy found no way to keep them clean. I think it has to do with how the white section is applied to the black. If the white section isn’t sealed on the back, chemicals can leech into it from the rest of the tire. Or something like that.
While I continue to stew on this, I figured I’d dig around in my photo archives and post up some tire examples I found. Of course I came across several tires that are no longer made, so I didn’t bother with those.
Starting on the “cheap” side, here is a look at the Milestar. Might be an older version and they aren’t super clean here, but a good example.
See also this car for a look at custom Diamondbacks.
Finally, probably the ultimate example for my purposes is Ted Taylor’s car as it’s a near twin to mine. He’s got the Coker BFG Silvertown tires which are in the same realm of expensive. They do look great though.
Skinny stripes look great, but are they worth 3X as much? That’s the question. Still not sure which version I like better either.
I’m sorta leaning away from the bias ply’s, even though the period look is cool. If this is my only set of wheels/tires to drive around on, I’m not sure I’d want to limit myself to those for all purposes.