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Radial tires for a 1949 Buick?


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I have a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible and have thought about replacing its 8.20-15 bias ply tires with radials in hopes of improving handling and safety. Please let me know if you have had any experience with this and the pros and cons of making such a change. Thanks


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There have been several threads concerning this issue in the acdclub.org forums. One serious concern is that should a tubeless tire fail when mounted on a tube-style rim, the tire will more likely fly off the rim. Since your 49 has 15" rims, you could likely easily find used (or new) tubeless rims to fit, and that concern would go away.

Many responders have said that using radials results in a profound improvement to handling and ride.

If either of my cars had 15" rims I would not hesitate to install radial tires, but only on radial-compatible rims.


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Radials did not improve handling or ride on my 55, but that one has rebuilt and tight suspension components. I hear that if the suspension is marginal it improves handling.

Next question is how much are you going to drive it? Bias tires will go 15,000 miles, but will last 15 years. Radials will go 40,000 miles, but will start falling apart in 5-6 years. The one that I put radials on has 20,000 miles in 3 years, so I have already gotten better value.

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I have radial tires on my 1948 Special and they do give better handling and ride. However, because of the construction of radial tires, they concentrate the side force acting on the bead area of the wheel in a hard turn. This force is less concentrated with bias ply tires. Because of this, you should inspect your wheels carefully to be sure there are no cracks or serious rust issues. I assume that you do not put this car through hard turns at speed, so if the wheels check out OK, you might give them a try.

Joe, BCA 33493

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