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Lester tires , are they a good tire?


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Hi,I'm replacing my 40 year old Universal 6.50X16 tires on my 35 Buick with Lester tires only because I couldn't seem to get the Universal brand again. Are they a good tire? I'm not running radials. Thanks.

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I like Lesters, that said, they SUCK in the rain. It was my understanding they are not being made anymore, and anything you find is old stock. i’m not sure how accurate that is but I’ve been looking for a new set for my Pierce for over seven years, and no new production yet.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I’m fairly certain they are out of production.......check date codes, and order soon so you can still get what you want. 

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One of the quietest tires, but had some with problems years ago.  Had one tire with a 1/2 wave in the tread that would set up  a death-wobble that could rip the steering wheel out of your hands.  Swapped it to the rear axle and problem went away. Plus, their white walls would turned brown easily needing extra effort to keep clean. Earned the nick name "Lester brown walls" with some owners. And one size I know of (6.50-19) was oversized for it's stated size and would not fit in fender wells originally meant for that size without letting a lot of air out of the tire

 

The Universal Tire bought them out and quality seems better.   I haven't tried any in many years, but I have been seeing more of them at car shows in recent years.

 

Universal still has them listed on their website.  https://www.universaltire.com/lester-tires.html    As do Coker and Lucas tire.

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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15 minutes ago, PFitz said:

Had one tire with a 1/2 wave in the tread that would set up  a death-wobble that could rip the steering wheel out of your hands.  Swapped it to the rear axle and problem went away.

I had the same issue when I tried to rotate a set of 7.00 X 19 tires and had to put them back again. 

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I had them on my 31 Franklin for many years and they wore well. The tread pattern on a wet road going around a curve with grooves cut in the pavement to drain off the water would affect the traction and for about 30 seconds you had to steer attentively to keep the car in the direction you were going. That was the only issue I found with them and as mentioned here they used to be referred to as "Lester brown and blackwalls". they wore very well and lasted a long time despite the many miles I drove with them on the car.

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1 hour ago, Buick35 said:

I've got them on the rear and they fit o.k. A little bigger is better I think because of the low gear ratio.

A bigger tire, with it's greater rolling diameter, will make it seem even lower ratio, if that's what your hoping for ? 

 

The problem I ran into many years ago, was not larger diameter, they were wide for a 6.50 rating. Spares had to be lowered to about 10 - 15 psi to get them in the fender wells. Once they were in, the diameter matched the wells fine. 

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, PFitz said:

A bigger tire, with it's greater rolling diameter, will make it seem even lower ratio, if that's what your hoping for ? 

 

The problem I ran into many years ago, was not larger diameter, they were wide for a 6.50 rating. Spares had to be lowered to about 10 - 15 psi to get them in the fender wells. Once they were in, the diameter matched the wells fine. 

 

Paul

 

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A friend of mine who roadtrips a lot runs them in 6.50-16, and swears by them. He says they last well (for bias tires) and have more rubber on the road than the other brands of 6.50-16 you can currently buy.

 

I wouldn't bet on them being any taller than other current offerings. Universal, Coker, Lucas etc. publish the diameter of the tires, so that can be looked up. Bad fit in sidemounts (too wide) is something you are likely to run into with most currently available tires.

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Do such tires have date codes ? Are required by FMVSS 119 (49CFR 571.119) S6.5 Tire markings in the US.

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4 minutes ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

Universal is owned by Coker.

 

I just bought 3 sets of tires off Universal and asked the head guy in the office this very question and he told me they were not owned by Coker?

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22 minutes ago, Bloo said:

A friend of mine who roadtrips a lot runs them in 6.50-16, and swears by them. He says they last well (for bias tires) and have more rubber on the road than the other brands of 6.50-16 you can currently buy.

 

I wouldn't bet on them being any taller than other current offerings. Universal, Coker, Lucas etc. publish the diameter of the tires, so that can be looked up. Bad fit in sidemounts (too wide) is something you are likely to run into with most currently available tires.

 In the 19 inch, the 6.50 Firestone and Goodrich fit in the same wheel wells fine at standard pressure.  Even with metal or fabric tire covers on. The Lester would not fit at standard pressure even without a cover. Not sure that is still the case with the newer one, but worth asking about when ordering.

 

Paul

Edited by PFitz (see edit history)
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Just now, PFitz said:

In the 19 inch, the 6.50 Firestone and Goodrich fit in the same wheel wells fine at standard pressure.  Even with metal or fabric tire covers on. The Lester would not fit at standard pressure even without a cover.

 

Good to know. I have a suspicion that in 16 inch, the molds that currently exist are postwar and are a little fatter than prewar tires.

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30 minutes ago, padgett said:

Do such tires have date codes ? Are required by FMVSS 119 (49CFR 571.119) S6.5 Tire markings in the US.

 

My current tires, purchased from Lucas and apparently manufactured in Vietnam, do not have the usual DOT manufacturer's code nor date code. I asked about that and Lucas told me it wasn't required. I did not believe it, so I started poking around the DOT site to find the real story. It has been a few years now so I don't have the links and may be hazy on the details, but the Lucas fellow was right: That coding is not required on vintage collector car tires. The reason was that Coker put in for a waiver based on limited usage and no strong history of issues or accidents caused by tires on limited use vintage vehicles.

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I remember seeing the same thing but was over a decade ago. Not sure that exemption still exists at least I could not find it today.

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58 minutes ago, Bloo said:

 

Good to know. I have a suspicion that in 16 inch, the molds that currently exist are postwar and are a little fatter than prewar tires.

  And that may not be the case with the new 19 inch Lesters ????? As I said, I'm seeing more of them in recent years, many with the same 6.50 - 19, but I have not heard any complaints about them not fitting in fender wells. And I didn't think to ask the car owners. 

 

Paul

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On 8/7/2020 at 9:19 AM, ply33 said:

 

My current tires, purchased from Lucas and apparently manufactured in Vietnam, do not have the usual DOT manufacturer's code nor date code. I asked about that and Lucas told me it wasn't required. I did not believe it, so I started poking around the DOT site to find the real story. It has been a few years now so I don't have the links and may be hazy on the details, but the Lucas fellow was right: That coding is not required on vintage collector car tires. The reason was that Coker put in for a waiver based on limited usage and no strong history of issues or accidents caused by tires on limited use vintage vehicles.

I wouldn't drive on any tires without a date code or even tires with them that are older than 5-6 years, but that's just me and my sense of responsibility to not only my own safety and that of other road users, whether in vehicles or pedestrians, but also for the sake of my car(s).

 

Just earlier this week, I received a call from a colleague/friend, who few weeks ago had crashed a 15 year old, very limited production, collectable car with less than 1K miles since new during a short trip to get it smogged.

 

Cause: 2 of the "Like new" looking , original (15 y.o. with same mileage) tires suddenly came apart at moderate highway speed.

He got pretty beat up, but recovering, car will likely get totaled.

 

Edited by TTR (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, PFitz said:

  And that may not be the case with the new 19 inch Lesters ????? As I said, I'm seeing more of them in recent years, many with the same 6.50 - 19, but I have not heard any complaints about them not fitting in fender wells. And I didn't think to ask the car owners. 

 

Paul

 

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My spare tire on the rear of the car is under a metal cover and is a 600.16.A Firestone black wall which looks to be original by the condition of it.

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My last 6.00x16s were Dunlop RS5s.  Do think tire life is due to environment, just looked at some '00 Michelin Xs and holding air & rubber looks new but would not use since lack the nylon cap. This extra cap or ply has been proven in trailer tires think Maxxis was first to have) to prevent catastrophic failure. All of the tires on my current herd have that extra nylon ply, even the el-cheapos made by Dayton that are on my recent Allante. Today I would not buy or drive on a tire that does not have it.

tireplies.jpg

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5 hours ago, Ron Green said:

I just bought 3 sets of tires off Universal and asked the head guy in the office this very question and he told me they were not owned by Coker?

 

From what I heard, they don't publicize that fact.

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1 hour ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

From what I heard, they don't publicize that fact.

It is well publicized based upon this...https://www.moderntiredealer.com/37296/the-coker-group-has-new-owners#:~:text=Wade Kawasaki%2C CEO%2C president and now an owner,the company's leadership team and Irving Place Capital.

 

Regards,

 

Peter J.

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About 10 years back, a friend found the molds and ordered a container load of tires for the Vespa micro-cars, but Customs refused importation because they did not have the D.O.T. approval on them. Apparently, the tires required safety testing to comply with US standards. Perhaps that rule has changed. 

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I am running Goodyear 6:50 x 16's with the concentric pattern on the whitewall (a reproduction period tread and whitewall patterned tire) - I have bought several sets now and have zero complaints (including driving in the rain) = https://www.kelseytire.com/antique/military-series/650-16-deluxe-all-weather-4-0-ww/

 

As to Lester's - we had them on the 1931 Cadillac's and dad's expression is "squirrel-y in the rain" and as a result I have always stayed clear (that said, the car ran silent and the tires were exceptionally nice quality).  And we have ancient sets of Lester's show up all the time via significantcars.com - I try to replace or get owners to replace with such as Firestone's or Bedford's (something with a more period looking tread pattern, plus I have bought just about every other brand too BF Goodrich, Excelsior, Cokers, and ...) - The Lester tires best I can tell are a rebanded "Lincoln Highway Tire" - the Lincoln's showed up somewhere in the 1960's and best I can tell Lester's started being made in very late 1960's or early 1970's.  In 1975, for the 1931 Cadillac the only real choice I believe was a Lester or a Denman (which the Denman was significantly higher priced for the time).  

 

 

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As to tire covers - they tend to be a tight fit on most everything 30's - the tricks are installing partially deflated and on the Auburn's, I actually take a grinder to the tire and knock off the edges of the tread.  And, I have installed smaller sized and "unmatched" tires in the sidemounts too.   Bottom line though is "generally speaking " if your Buick has 6:00 under covers then you may be able to get a 6:50 in the spare, but never a 7:00 and certainly never a radial as they are too boxy a tire.  

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""squirrel-y in the rain" " - Sounds like the first Michelin Xs. Never experienced a snap spin before once upon a time in the rain with early Michelin Xs (Stop pattern) on a '57 Karmann Ghia (still a great looking car). Talk about "Not even safe in the driveway".

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3 minutes ago, padgett said:

""squirrel-y in the rain" " - Sounds like the first Michelin Xs. Never experienced a snap spin before once upon a time in the rain with early Michelin Xs (Stop pattern) on a '57 Karmann Ghia (still a great looking car). Talk about "Not even safe in the driveway".


 

Lesters “squirrel-y in the rain“ no........they are much worse than that. And in the snow, they are absolutely useless even on flat ground.....from experience.

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1 minute ago, edinmass said:


 

Lesters “squirrel-y in the rain“ no........they are much worse than that. And in the snow, they are absolutely useless even on flat ground.....from experience.

I remember being out with the 1941 Cadillac, in maybe 1981, on the fall AACA tour and we were about 3 or so miles from home when it started to snow -  by the time we were on our street there was enough snow the car was everywhere on the street and by the time we made it to the drive there was maybe 1/2 inch and we could not even get the car up over the curb at the driveway apron - we shoveled the street to get it in the drive (that was a set of Firestone's bought in 1979).  

 

Sidenote:  I also recall being in the car in a monsoon and soaking the headliner and carpet from side to side (and pretty much whole interior) with water sloshing around on the floor (why keep driving ?  We had been on the highway for two hours and knew better to shut it off as long as it was running then fine, plus the more simple answer was - dinner reservations).  And, there was the time of driving the Franklin off a flooded snowfield with water up over the spokes on the wire wheels (first time shown too). 

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18 minutes ago, edinmass said:


 

Lesters “squirrel-y in the rain“ no........they are much worse than that. And in the snow, they are absolutely useless even on flat ground.....from experience.

In maybe 1978, I recall John Tornquist and first wife Kathy stopping in one evening on way from somewhere - in 1 foot plus of snow and they were driving their AACA Senior Prize Winning 1949 Cadillac 62 Series Sedan (in Maroon) - The stayed for dinner, but would not stay the night as they wanted to be back home to Chicago to relieve the kids sitter - They left about 10:00 pm for the drive from Dayton to Chicago. 

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Yeah. Yes, indeed. 1949 Cadillacs !  Sigh ! 

 

 I pulled away from and then lost a police pursuit car on a winding, icy, snowy dark road in one of my '49 Cads. It was my 62 fastback, (light Grey with a visor, fog lights), which I found superbly predictable in low traction. One very snowy night my brother and his wife and I had a hankering for suds in a social setting. Southbound on University Way in Seattle, we saw a parking place ahead on the other side of the street, right in front of the Century Tavern. I told Mark and Dianne : "Watch this". Provoked an end swap, flew backwards in a cloud of snow over the  berm which had been plowed up in the center, and landed in the previously vacant space. Shut it off and entered the tav as if that was routine. I am sure in retrospect that there was a huge element of luck involved, but we were all in our 20s, and pretty sure of our young selves. I wouldn't try that stunt now, some50 years later. But it speaks extremely well for that platform.

 

Oh, and the 30 year old Lesters on my '24 Cad are still just fine. Likewise the indeterminately old Lesters on the '27. But I will not drive these cars in the rain. Snow neither.                        Considerably older and considerably slower, yours truly,   -   Cadillac Carl 

 

 

Edited by C Carl
Syntactical refinement (see edit history)
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I am in the market for a set of new tires for my 1937 Buick Century. The car would have originally been equipped with 700x15 bias ply tires.

 

Included with a Hemmings Motor News that arrived today, is a Univeral Tires catalog. It lists Lester tires in 700x15 so I think they are back in production.

 

The catalog also lists BF Goodrich tires in 710x15, but not 700x15. The Lester tires and BF Goodrich tires also appear to be the only  Bias Ply tires in the catalog that are listed as made in the USA. The whitewall width for the Lester tires is 4". The whitewall width for the BF Goodrich is 3 7/8". My current Firestone tires have 3 1/2" whitewalls. The Lester and BF Goodrich are similarly priced. I now have a decision to make. I really prefer the idea of USA production which will keep me from buying another set of the Firestone reproduction tires.  

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2 hours ago, MCHinson said:

I am in the market for a set of new tires ............................. The Lester tires and BF Goodrich tires also appear to be the only  Bias Ply tires in the catalog that are listed as made in the USA................................I now have a decision to make. I really prefer the idea of USA production ..........................

 

I'd bet my ears that each and every one of us here is with you regarding preferred country of origin. One factor to be weighed in picking the right tire is tread pattern. Can you show us pics of each ? Steer tread should be a deciding feature.   -   Carl 

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