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Radial Tyres
Radial Tyres

This group seems pretty well connected, therefore my plea for help. Now that I have my 150 DHC #838839 back on the road, I don't think I'll really be happy until I fit it with radial tires.

Does anyone know of a source for 'obsolete' tires such as the Pirelli Cinturato 185 x 16. I understand that new Avons and Michelin are available, however I would prefer and older radial tread style and fabric belts.

Any input would be appreciated. - Bill Burke

I am looking for recommendations for 16 inch radial tires for my 1954 XK-120 DHC Chassis number 678462. What is the hot set-up? Since many of the performance cars now use 16 inch tires, are any of them narrow enough (is 205 mm too wide). I'd appreciate hearing from any of you out there that have experience with these tires. The tires that are on the car are at least 30 years old. The tread is almost unworn, but I don't trust them.

I am a new member to this group. I have owned my Jag since 1974 and only paid $100 for it at the time. I am currently doing a complete restoration on it. The body is now complete and probably better than new.

Also, I have some very special spats that came with the car. I have never seen another pair like them. They are cut out and show most of the wheel. I believe they call them Coombes type on Mark II. They look great. I have seen many cars through the past 25 years, but never anything like them. - J Brady

I've had very good luck using Pirelli's 185x 16 but I was dinged for them as "not authentic for the period" at a recent show even tho' I showed my car as a driver. - Vic Garlin

I purchased a set of Avon MK IV 600-16 V rated nylon cross-ply tires from British Wire Wheels in Santa Cruz about 3 years ago to replace my Firestone Cavallinos which I had previously also purchased from British Wire Wheels. I changed tires because I was loosing points with the "185-16" tires in JCNA judging.

I have been very satisfied with the AVONs. We have both cold winters and very hot summers and the flat spots on the tires go away within one block of my house.

I ran in the Western States Jaguar Meet Slalom and they held thru the turns very well. My only problem was never being able to get enough straight line traction due to wheel spin.. When I finally made a smooth run at reduced throttle, I got the best time in my class. I finished about 8th from the top in overall speed, including the Race prepared. Not too bad for a 98,000 mile home-built engine.

I guess I got carried away with my fun--I strongly recommend British Wire Wheels for all tires and wheel repairs. Their number is 408-479-4495. - Larry J

Bill, For starters check the info on the web site under 'tyres' (library/tyres.html). If you find anything out of date please let me know and I'll update. - Dick White (xk admin)

More than 10 years ago I bought Pirelli tires for my XK150 from Coker Tire Co. I just looked on their Homepage and Pirelli is not listed as one of their brands. Nonetheless, it might be worth a call or an e-mail inquiry. Vintage Tire Hotline 1-800-251-6336 Donna Renfro, Customer Service, - Paul Patek

Try Wallace Wade, Specialty Tires, 4303-C Irving Blvd., Dallas, TX 75247 (214) 688-0091 or 1-800 666 TYRE. I bought my Dunlop Roadspeeds from him at a not too outrageous price and he seemed both knowledgeable and well stocked. Let me know what you find. - Gardner Howard

British Wire Wheels now has a 185 - 16 radial for your car. The only way to go if you are going to drive it. - Lee Eggers

update:30 March 98...

I have been looking for about a year for modern type Radial cord tires for my XK140. I checked with Coker tire and their Michelin X 185x16 was all that was available. I'm not too impressed with the tire from a previous experence. Then I found out that this size isn't an equivalent to the original 600x16. the 185x16 is a replacement for 650-670x16. More for MKVII to IX. The radial equivelant for 600x16 is 165x16 and nobody seems to make this size. I was almost ready to buy some bias cord tires when I heard of a tire that Bridgestone had developed for the Toyota Rav4. A 215-70 R16, the sidewall height is the same as the 600x16. We did a test mount on a rim and it looked right with no fitting problems. It will even fit in the spare tire tray and the lid will close. I fitted a set to my car last weekend, what a change it made. It corners like it is on rails. If you are interested in the tire check it out at a Toyota dealership on a Rav4 - Bill, 1955 XK140 OTS

Bill, Interesting story re the RAV 4 tyres: if they really fit OK and are that good, you may have done us all a great service in making this find. My old Pirellis on the 150 S are on their last legs (just kept them going by replacing the worst one last year with a secondhand one that was not bad at all) but they are old and hard. Otherwise, it would be Avon Turbospeeds which are good but do not seem to hang on as well as the radials. By the way, the Pirellis are 185 x 16 too. I was surprised you did not like the Michelin X - I thought they were meant to be OK? - Regards, John Elmgreen

Bill, Is the Bridgestone a HR or VR rated tyre? Many 4 x 4 tyres are rated at sub 100mph speeds. Even if you don't want to go faster than that, there may be insurance problems with fitting low speed rated tyres. John, Avon 185/16, TurboSteel radials are now available in the UK. Have a set on my '150S and they seem fine.- Roger Learmonth

Our local Toyota dealer says the Dunlops on his RAV4 are HR rated. Is that high or low speed? - Bruce Cunningham

Bruce, The "HR" rating means a radial tire rated for 130 mph, according to Coker Tire's site. Regards, Jim Voorhies

I was interested in the comments on new radial tyres for XK's from the Toyota RAV 4. From the checking I have done the RAV 4 runs a Dunlop Grandtrek 215/70 HR16 on a 6Jx16in wheel. The Land Rover Freelander runs a Goodyear 215/65 HR16 also on a 6Jx16 wheel. Both tread patterns appear to be open road orientated rather than an off road pattern. Hope this is of some help. I will be checking out pricing as they may be a viable alternative to the new 16in Avon radials which are on the expensive side. - Roger Herrick

Bruce, That's high enough for an XK. Good news. - Roger Learmonth

130 mph high enough for an XK??? Well, OK, so long as you don't have a 140 C type or a 150 S! Years ago, I had the speedo needle wavering around 135mph (wouldn't be game these days however). I also did 140 mph on the Jabbeke motorway in Belgium (but that was in a V12 Coupe). Incidentally, I always wondered if the speed rating meant more than just a speed rating i.e. does it mean the tyre performs better under strong acceleration, etc., and therefore it is important to have the right speed rating even if you don't hit 130 mph usually? - Regards, John Elmgreen

The ratings on the tyres are kind of important in countries where there is no general speed limit, like Germany. SR stands for max speed of approx 112mph; HR is 130mph; VR is speeds in excess of 130mph. Good luck, don't break your neck at any of those speeds. What did the original XK manual say to that subject refering to Dunlop road speed tyres 6.00 x 16 ? It said pump up your tyres to 35 lbs per sqinch and more and forget comfort. - Arno Wahl

Another issue is the load rating. Truck, and 4X4, tyres are made for heavy loads and as a result will not handle well. They will also ride very rough because the side walls do not flex. Take how many miles do you expect to do a year and divide that into the expected life of the tyre. Take that number and divide it into the cost of the tyre and yopu should get a number around 25. That will be your cost per year of tyre operation. $100/yr is a pittance these days. - George Badger

Arno, Those ratings, including ZR, are for MAXIMUM speeds, not sustained speeds. - George Badger

A nice explanation of some of the tire lingo can be found on the web site for Discount Tire Direct at Go to "Before you buy" and peruse the various topics such as "reading the sidewall", "speed rating", and etc. - Dick White

George, according to German law, it is sustained speed, i.e. when you drive a car capable of 130, you need HR tyres, and the German law requires, that the tyres won't come apart, when you drive all day long at that speed on the autobahns. - Arno Wahl

Following Bill's post describing a RAV4 Bridgestone tire that fits 6.00x16 rims, I called a local tire shop. The model D687 Dueler is S-rated (190 kph/112 mph), and sells here for around $US 100. On wire wheels these will need tubes, won't they? - evan gamblin

Yes you need RADIAL tubes. Watch out that you get the right stem size for the stem hole in your rim. There are two sizes. - Bill, 1955 XK140 ots

Isn't the width of these 215/70 x 16 way too wide. My math says the tires are about 8.5 inches wide as versus the original tires <6 inches. - Dave and Linda Freeman

Arno, You may be correct, I'm not a cognesti of german law, but I believe one needs VR rated tyres to operate a vehicle at speeds of 130+MPH. But I also think we are splitting hairs here. I feel, if you are going to go fast, get the best damn tyre there is, no buts about it. Myself, I have ZR rated tyres on my 120 and E-type and VR's on my MGB and Saab. I don't whine about cost when my, and my wife's lives are at stake. - George Badger

Dave, Accoding to my tire expert and his fit book the Jag rim is the minimum width for this tire. If it was a 60 series it wouldn't work. But the 70 series will fit. I did a comparison of dimensions between 600x16 & 215-70 R16. The 600x16 outside sidewall is 6.875 inches tread width 4.375 inches and rim edge to tread 5.00 inches. On the 215-70 R16 outside sidewall 7.75 inches tread width 5.75 inches and rim edge to tread 4.9375 inches. I hope these measurments help. - Bill, 1955 XK140 ots

Is there any interference with the turn radius, spring shackles, etc. Also, 215mm does convert to 8.5 inches. Maybe that is the sidewall width under load? 7.75 would convert to a 195. - Dave Freeman

Bill, I'm curious as to what inflation pressure you have used on these tires, as well as your opinion regarding the 'look' of the tires on the car. Thanks - William C. Burke

Help! I am looking to install a quality RADIAL tyre on the wire wheels of my '58 XK 150 FHC. The only applicable tyre so far is a Avon at about $270 each. Does anyone know of a more reasonably priced tyre? I heard something about a Bridgestone but have no details. Waiting for rubber in St.Louis - Brad Bloomquist

Dave. Yes 215mm does convert to 8.5 inches. Yup my math is the same as yours!!! But sidewall width will change depending on rim width. you will see where I have listed the 600x16 as having a sidewall at 6.875 inches. In theory this should be 6 inches for this tire. But most tires of this dimension were made for rims narrower than the Jag rims. The old Ford rim that took this size of tire, as I recall, was around a 4" width so it is reasonable to expect that a wider tire on a minimum width rim would drop from 8.5" down to 7.75". I haven't found any interference between these tires and anything under the car. My biggest concern was the side wall to rear fender clearance but there does seem to be sufficent room with these tires. The only down side to these tires is the steering effort required when I park on the concrete slab in front of my shop. If you ever see a posting from me asking for information on a conversion to power rack & pinion you will know why. These tires have a much larger road contact area and seem to be a softer tread composition and I expect this is why more effort is required in parking. - Bill, snowbound 1955 xk140 OTS

I just measured my Avon Torbospeeds on steel rims. The sidewall width is pretty close to 7.25" and the tread width is 5". - Bruce Cunningham, '53 XK120 OTS

I started out with 30 lbs. That was good then went up to 32lbs. and it was a bit better. Had only one day to play with pressures and then the weather went bad so I haven't been out since. The roads are very rough with frost heaves so I can't get a good idea about preasures untill mid April. - Bill, now snowbound 1955 XK140 ots

Update 16 June 98

Help! I am looking to install a quality RADIAL tyre on the wire wheels of my '58 XK 150 FHC. The only applicable tyre so far is a Avon at about $270 each. Does anyone know of a more reasonably priced tyre? I heard something about a Bridgestone but have no details. - Brad Bloomquist

Recent traffic on this list concluded that the Firestones are no longer made, but were OK while they were around. The Avons sound good, but may not be available much longer either someone suggested - taken over? Any more info available? - Regards, John Elmgreen

Brad- I have been gone for awhile so I just saw your note re: radial tires. On my XK-120 OTS I have installed Firestone "Cavellino" radials. These were originally produced in the early '60s and have been brought back in some of the original "vintage" sizes such as 185X16. I not only drive my car quite a bit but also in a "spirited" manner so radials were something I was looking for and these Firestones look good and perform very well. I don't recall what I paid for them 5 years ago but they were among the most reasonable and I believe represent an excellent value. - Jeff Schellinger

I've only recently had apparently the definitive advice on 16" radials for XK's, certainly as far as Australian market is concerned, but should be same situation elsewhere. The Firestone CAVALLINO Sport 200 was originally made and readily available from Firestone New Zealand, and was probably the best radial I've used on an XK. Apparently the moulds etc were sold out to USA, where there became a legal problem with making the 185x16" tyre with only an "S" speed rating. ("S" means SUSTAINED 113 mph, with brief higher speeds quite acceptable - on a technical reality basis, but not on USA legal requirement I believe, that needs to match the Speed rating to vehicles top speed). Apparently they then tried half heartedly to re-establish manufacture in New Zealand but not interested. So no more Firestone 16" Cavallino. In Australia, the choice is now French made Michelin X or UK made Avons, both very expensive. I'm hoping my current Cavallino's last long enough for a new manufacturing base is found! There is of course the 1960's (not 1950's) period Dunlop RS5, or a few different Cross-Ply options. Depends whether you want to drive or show your XK. - Roger Payne

Brad, also available are: 1.Michelin X-Course 6.00-16 250km/h; 2.Avon Turbosteel 185 R 16V 210km/h; 3.Firestone Cavallino 185 R 16h 210km/h; 4.Michelin 4x4 205/80 R 16 M+S 190km/h; 5.Bridgestone same N°4; 6.Pirelli Cinturato 185 VR 16 expensive and still not produced. I drive the Bridgestones on my 120OTS and they are good up to 170km/h. They are made for a Jeep that´s why they are a little bit rough and slippy in the wet.They look like baloons on the car,quite larger than 185 R 16.But you get all 4 tires for the price of one Pirelli. I paid 800.-DM that about 430 US$ for all. - Thomas Wagstyl

Good Afternoon, I am looking to purchase a set of 16" Radial Tyres for my XK150. As I currently reside in South Africa, I am unsure as to the best source in the UK for such tyres. I shall be visiting London and Birmingham/Coventry next week and therefore would like to find out if there is a suitable supplier whom I can contact. Preference for makers other than Dunlop and Pirelli. If anyone can help me in this regard, I shall appreciate a response as soon as possible. - Regards, Drummond Field

Drummond, I normally buy tyres for everyday motoring from a company in North London called Hendon Tyre Service. I have found them to be consistently the lowest price. I phoned them this morning and they can do Avon Turbospeed 165 x 16 VR rated for 160 pounds + VAT. You would get the VAT back if you exported them from the UK to a non EC country. I have not yet bought any tyres for my XK so I have no idea how this price compares to others. If you want to get in touch with them their number is +44 181 205 2109. Hope this is of some help.- Eric Capron

There is a place called I think Vintage Tyres in tke UK. Check the bog club magazines or Jaguar World. Avons should still be available, or Michelin X. See website for discussions re availabilty and opinions. - Regards, John Elmgreen

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