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More on Tyres

Having owned my XK 140 dhc for 2 weeks now, and wanting to turn it into a very useful car, I have some questions some of you may have an answer for : My car has 15" chrome wire weels with 185 x 15 HR radial tyres. They look very good, but with the car came the original 16" wire wheels. Is it better to change back to 16" to keep the original end reduction and speedo indication, or are the smaller wheels better for steering and roadholding ? For checking castor and camber the handbook gives a complex procedure. Does this have to be followed strictly or can it be done more simply with modern equipment ? What is the influence on handling, steering and ride quality of uprating the suspension to 150 type front sway bar and Spax dampers. Any suggestions in this matter ? My apologies for having so many questions in one message, but I am very unfamiliar with these Jaguars and I have to make some decisions on very short term. Many thanks in advance. - Marc Bertels, Belgium

Marc, I'm sure you will get some very good as well as quite contrary advice on gearboxes and tyres but here's my experience to date for what its worth. I have a 140 FHC. I'm running 185 x 16 radials (pirelli cinturato's) on the rear that are 20 years old but unused and 185 x 15" cinturatoes on the front so I've got some newer rubber for better braking etc (can't get new 16" cinturato's at a reasonable price even if available). Seriously considering 15" E-type wheels to give me a better selection of new rubber. I have changed several old cars including a 49 Riley to radials and consider it the only way to go if you want to drive the car. Give me a call if you want more information. - Bruce Lake, XK140FHC, 1959 Mk 2 3.4, Riley RMB 2-1/2

I have Avon 6000x16 on my 120 and I am delighted with them in every respect except they wear a little fast - but that's the price you pay for sticking to the road. I was advised by someone who owns two 120's and had tried both bias and radials that the solid rear axle and leaf springs in the rear are not very friendly with radials as the back end wants to drift around curves and the radials tend to hang on real tight and then break loose all of a sudden. In other words, they are not very "forgiving". In addition to that, the Avon's just LOOK right. (I have heard that both Avon and Dunlop were provided as original equipment.) - Bruce Cunningham, '53 XK120 OTS

I've got Michelin X 185R16 on my150 and love them. Purchased themfrom Coker Tire. - RBG, 150 dhc

Though the 185 sr 16 pirellis on my 54 120m rst are a little larger than original equipment they improve the handling, last a lot longer, and look great. I had Pirellis on my 57 3.4 saloon in 1959 With the same result. If you drive your car you will like it. Personal opinion: fifteen inch wheels look strange on a xk. - Mileshawk

Marc, I have 15" Wheels (series 1 E Type) and Michelin Red Line radial tires on my XK150. They seem to perform much better than the original 16" bias tires I had on some years ago. Originally I swapped because the only 16" tires that were availabe were truck tires rated for only 85 MPH. There are a couple caveats, 1 use only RADIAL Tubes, they are thicker rubber made to deal with the sidewall flexing that goes on with Radial tires, 2. I recommend sealing the hub spoke ends with silicone to keep axle grease from getting out onto the nice clean spokes and sealing the wheel spoke ends to guard against sharp spoke ends poking a hole in the tube. I also found some guards that look like huge rubber bands that go between the wheel and the tube that will protect the tube as well. I have always heard about 'tuning' the chassis for Radials, but I have no idea what the hell they are talking about. There are lots of solid rear axle cars made today that use radials (Camaro, Mustang to name a couple) so I guess its no big deal. MY own experience is MUCH improved handling and after a while I thought XKs with 16" wheels looked funny! - David M. Drenzek

One trick I learned when working on the tires on my old tractor was to take the old tubes I was replacing, cut the stem off and use them to line the inside of the wheel. Cut a hole for the new stem. The old tube will protect the new tube. You can also use that thick stretchy electrician's rubber tape, but if you're replacing a tube, you've already got a huge rubber band. Tractor tires (on old tractors, at least) get filled with water to add traction. You can guess the effect on the wheels - pretty messy on tubes. - Jim Voorhies

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