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1950 Buick Estate Wagon Tire Question


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This is my first post and I look forward to contributing to the group moving forward.

 

I recently purchased a 1950 Buick Estate Wagon and am interested in purchasing a set of correct looking radial tires for the car.  We intend to drive it a fair amount and - I know this is a controversial topic - but I prefer the ride from radial vs bias ply tires.

 

Attached are some photos of the car.  I am looking for a good tire that will look 'correct' for the vintage of the vehicle and am open as to where to purchase (eg, Coker, Diamondback, etc.).

 

Thanks in advance for any insights on tire brands and your experiences with different tire companies.

 

 

1950_buick_super_estate_1591064347f141557ffb20200531_121638-scaled.jpg

1950_buick_super_estate_15910646306bc9f5fd2841f1420200531_124404-scaled.jpg

1950_buick_super_estate_15910648441f141557ffb20200601_182023-scaled.jpg

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First, did you buy this car out of Flint, MI? I believe it is one that we sold a few years ago and was subject to an long, expensive, and very correct restoration by a fellow board member here. If that's the car, hopefully that gentleman will chime in--he should surely recognize his car. 

 

Second, if you want radials, Diamondback is the only way to go. They will have something that will be correct and the tires will be fresh and properly built. Those from the big name tire company that I'm not allowed to mention are often problematic in terms of quality and age.

 

Hope this helps and welcome!

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 I have Diamondbacks on two of my old Buicks, a '41 and a '56. The '41 I have had them on for nearly 10 years, and have put about 12-13,000 miles on them, and they have been fine.

 I too prefer the ride of the radials for a driver car. Even a really nice one like yours, and they are just tires which can be changed out again if one wants the genuine article for show purposes.

 Lovely looking car, I'm a big fan of those woodies.

 Keith

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12 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

First, did you buy this car out of Flint, MI? I believe it is one that we sold a few years ago and was subject to an long, expensive, and very correct restoration by a fellow board member here. If that's the car, hopefully that gentleman will chime in--he should surely recognize his car. 

 

Second, if you want radials, Diamondback is the only way to go. They will have something that will be correct and the tires will be fresh and properly built. Those from the big name tire company that I'm not allowed to mention are often problematic in terms of quality and age.

 

Hope this helps and welcome!

Hi Matt, indeed, this is the same car and we are thrilled to be the new custodians of it!  Thanks also for your recommendation of Diamondback, I will check into them.  

 

Do you have any insight on the correct tire size for this vehicle?  I assume - in terms of whitewall size - what is on the car is correct and I can simply provide them with that measurement?

 

Thanks for your help and the warm welcome!

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10 hours ago, Buicknutty said:

 I have Diamondbacks on two of my old Buicks, a '41 and a '56. The '41 I have had them on for nearly 10 years, and have put about 12-13,000 miles on them, and they have been fine.

 I too prefer the ride of the radials for a driver car. Even a really nice one like yours, and they are just tires which can be changed out again if one wants the genuine article for show purposes.

 Lovely looking car, I'm a big fan of those woodies.

 Keith

 

Thank you Keith, we are thrilled to acquire the car and provide it with a new home.  I also appreciate the feedback on Diamondback tires and will check into them.  We have an '84 Oldmobile 98 Regency Brougham that has been in the family since new.  Diamondback make a set of tires to match the look of the original Uniroyal Royal Seal tires and they have been on the car for 17 years with no issues.  I will definitely give them a call!

 

Thanks for the kind words regarding the car, it is immaculate and an amazing restoration and, like you, we love woodie wagons!

 

Many thanks!

 

 

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 Diamondback tires are a good choice.  I use them on one of my cars that sees 5000+ miles a year and last twice as long a bias tires.  The previous tire was Coker silvertowns like your car has.  There will be very little difference in ride and handling if all steering and suspension components are good.  The tires on your car are about 12 years old and are by now hard and maybe flat spotted and out of balance.  Your car does not have power steering and radials will increase steering effort.  On some cars like my 55 the radials changed steering response:  after turning a corner the steering wheel would not return to center without input from the driver; not until the alignment values were changed to increase positive caster ( which will also increase steering effort ).  To get a radial with the same diameter/circumference as the bias you will have to go to a tire that will not fit without rubbing on corners.  Your car probably has 760-15 now...the radial replacement that I use is 225-75R15 which is 5% smaller (speedometer and odometer is off a little and at first glance gas mileage is better because more miles are registered)  The next size 235-75R15 gets the original diameter/circumference back but will rub and actually rides worse since it is heavier (search 'unsprung weight').

Radials in  hot central Texas last 5 years or 60,000 miles; bias ply last 10+ years or 15,000 miles... that is if both are driven regularly.

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Hi Old Tank:

 

Thank you for your reply to my post, the information in your response is very helpful.

 

I had been looking at Diamondback Auburn 820-R15 tires.  They are the closest I could find to the Silvertowns. Do you think these will fit without rubbing?  If not, what tires and size would you recommend?

 

Did you restore the car?  I had no idea the tires on the car were that old!  Now I am doubly motivated to replace them.  
 

Thanks again for your insights.

 

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12 hours ago, old-tank said:

Nice tire but what is on the car right now?  A friend restored the car and it's first outing was in Colorado springs 11 years ago.


Silvertown bias ply. Most likely what was on the car when your friend restored it.

 

 

 

 

Hi Old Tank:

 

Thank you for your reply to my post, the information in your response is very helpful.

 

I had been looking at Diamondback Auburn 820-R15 tires.  They are the closest I could find to the Silvertowns. Do you think these will fit without rubbing?  If not, what tires and size would you recommend?

 

Did you restore the car?  I had no idea the tires on the car were that old!  Now I am doubly motivated to replace them.  
 

Thanks again for your insights.

 

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According to the BCA judging manual page 34 HERE, the correct size is 760-15 and the 820R-15 would be too big:  might rub in turns, maybe not able to get rear tire mounted unless deflated, and the ride would be worse.

Different cars, but back in the 1960's the family's 58 Super was going to be traded and had nearly new tires (800-15), my 55 Special had bald tires (760-15), so we swapped.  In addition to rubbing in turns the ride was horrible even at 24 psi in the tires.  At least they did not last long the way I drove back then.:P

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14 minutes ago, old-tank said:

According to the BCA judging manual page 34 HERE, the correct size is 760-15 and the 820R-15 would be too big:  might rub in turns, maybe not able to get rear tire mounted unless deflated, and the ride would be worse.

Different cars, but back in the 1960's the family's 58 Super was going to be traded and had nearly new tires (800-15), my 55 Special had bald tires (760-15), so we swapped.  In addition to rubbing in turns the ride was horrible even at 24 psi in the tires.  At least they did not last long the way I drove back then.:P

Old Tank:

 

Thanks for this... I will see if the Diamondback Auburn tires are available in 760-15 size.  
 

I assume the ‘760’ refers to width?

 


 

 

 

 

 

I had been looking at Diamondback Auburn 820-R15 tires.  They are the closest I could find to the Silvertowns. Do you think these will fit without rubbing?  If not, what tires and size would you recommend?

 

Did you restore the car?  I had no idea the tires on the car were that old!  Now I am doubly motivated to replace them.  
 

Thanks again for your insights.

 

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2 hours ago, BuickBob49 said:

I've been running 7.60 x 15 America's Classic radial tires on my 1949 Super 51. Nice tires.

Watch the age of tires from that vendor!  I bought a set and sent them back...they were 2-3 years old when they arrived.  Diamondbacks were 2-3 months old.

And whatever tires you pick have them static balanced with the ugly weights on the inside.

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Some food for thought.  What is the amount of mileage you plan on putting on this Buick yearly?  Where will you specifically drive this Buick?  Highway, back streets or country roads? A mix?   For me, these questions  played a factor in my decision to install correct bias ply tires or look for correct radial bias ply looking tires.  The amount of driving I do in each yearly and the roads mostly traveled I found it more money conscience to purchase bias ply.   These older Buicks can be needy!        

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Thanks to all for the input on tires, I appreciate it!

 

My main issue right now is to find the ideal size for the car.  If 7.60-15 is the specification I need to ensure the tires don't rub, etc.

the America's Classic is about my only option.  If I convert 760-15 to a radial size, it seems like a P225/75R 15 would be an option:

 

29.4" height for a 7.60-15 vs 28.29 for a P225/75R 15.  Width is 7.99 for the 7.60-15 vs 8.86 for the P225/75R 15.  I don't know if the ~.87 width 

is enough to cause rubbing issues or not.

 

Any thoughts would be welcome.  The car will be driven primarily on back roads, some on highway.  I would estimate putting ~5K to 8K miles on the 

car per year.

 

Thanks for any insights on specific tires to look at.

 

Thank you!

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My mechanic's tire guy didn't follow directions when he put the weights on the 760R15s on my 49 Super. (I asked to have them mounted on the back side, only.) When he installed 700R16 Coker Classics on my 39 Roadmaster, he got it right--weighs on the back side, only. 

 

Both sets of tires were fresh and both sets perform very well!

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Folks:

 

After spending waaaaay too much time on the interweb, it looks like I have three options if I want to go with a radial tire for the 1950 Buick Estate Wagon:

 

- Universal 760R 15 Bias look radial tire (I'm not a big fan of the 'fluted' shoulder, but it does look like a bias ply with the driving advantages of a radial.

 

- Coker Classic 225/75R15 Radial with 2 3/4 inch whitewall

 

- Coker American Classic 760R 15 Bias Look Radial with 3 1/4 inch whitewall

 

 

Unfortunately, I could not find anything in Diamondback 'bias look' radial tires in the 7.60-15 size.  Please let me know if I have missed something.

 

Assuming the above three brands/tires are my only options, if anyone has any experience with any of the three - good or bad - please let me know.

 

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Mine is the third one in your list, the American Classic. The whitewall is the same dimension as what it would be on the old US Royal Air-Ride blackwall from 1949, as shown in the photo above. Tire height and width also seemed to be the same for both the US Royal and the American Classic. You probably shouldn't have any trouble with the 820R x 15. The 8.20 x 15 bias ply was the tire size for Roadmasters in 1949. Both Supers and Roadmasters that year were the same from the firewall back. The difference was the longer and heavier engine in the Roadmaster. Maybe others can weigh in.

Edited by BuickBob49 (see edit history)
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18 hours ago, Kartman01 said:

I would estimate putting ~5K to 8K miles on the 

car per year.

Then the only choice is Diamondback 225-75R15 ,HERE...I use the the Diamond Back II built on fresh Toyo tires.  Do not buy radials from Coker...they are old when you get them and the white turns yellow soon.

One more thing:  radials are less forgiving if the rims are not absolutely straight.  I had a dozen wheels evaluated before I found 4 straight ones.  Another friend had new wheels constructed .  Also before 1955 there was not a ridge in the bead area to keep the bead in place if a flat happens....less likely to lose control in a blowout.

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If that car was mine again, I would find a set of Diamondbacks that would fit. If you are going to drive the car, I would not be so worried about changing sizes. As it is, the rear end was changed from the original 4.4 (or so) to a 3.6 because the original was trashed. It’s a good highway cruise gear but kinda slow around town.

Find a size that fits, use Diamondbacks and you will be happy.

Here is the car in 2003 after doing the mechanical work and on the way to get the wood done.

o

image.jpeg

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10 hours ago, Bill Stoneberg said:


If that car was mine again, I would find a set of Diamondbacks that would fit. If you are going to drive the car, I would not be so worried about changing sizes. As it is, the rear end was changed from the original 4.4 (or so) to a 3.6 because the original was trashed. It’s a good highway cruise gear but kinda slow around town.

Find a size that fits, use Diamondbacks and you will be happy.

Here is the car in 2003 after doing the mechanical work and on the way to get the wood done.

o

image.jpeg

Hi Bill: Thank you for your insights on the car and I will take your advice (and Old Tank's!) and go with a set of Diamondback 225-75R15 tires.  Also, thank you for the outstanding restoration work you did on the car, we love it and appreciate your hard work.  I restore vintage Indianapolis race cars for a hobby, so I have a deeper understanding than most on 

how much works these projects are.

 

One question: can you help me understand what work was done on the engine?  I have seen references to a 'long block' in some of the documentation, but there is not a lot of detail.  I'm assuming the engine was rebuilt when you had the car, and I am curious if hardened valve seats were installed.  If not, I am guessing I will need to add a bit of lead substitute to the fuel when we fill up the car.  As it is, we run ethanol free 90 octane on all of our vehicles that we only drive periodically.

 

If you are open to it, I would love to connect with you and discuss questions from time to time.  As my dad used to say, you have forgotten more about this car than I will ever know.

 

Best regards,

 

Chuck Jones

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I would caution that the radial tires have a wider tread width and the pictures show that the rear tires look to be close to the body at the opening. Thus, you might have difficulty getting a radial into the area.  

It may pay to try one tire before purchasing 4 or 5 just to be sure it will go on the car. The one tire could be used as a spare if it fits in the spare tire well too.

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Hi Chuck,  

I honestly don’t remember whether hardened seats were put in or not.  Too long ago. You could take a scope and look at the heads through the spark plug holes. Or just keep adding zinc to it. That will help keep the cam alive as well. 
I am in the Buick Club roster and will be glad to talk to you about the car. 
Bill

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4 hours ago, Kartman01 said:

One question: can you help me understand what work was done on the engine?  I have seen references to a 'long block' in some of the documentation, but there is not a lot of detail.  I'm assuming the engine was rebuilt when you had the car, and I am curious if hardened valve seats were installed.  If not, I am guessing I will need to add a bit of lead substitute to the fuel when we fill up the car.  As it is, we run ethanol free 90 octane on all of our vehicles that we only drive periodically.

 

You can safely skip the lead substitute. Buick blocks and heads have a higher nickel content than many others and hardened valve seats are unnecessary. The whole 'you need lead or your valve seats will be damaged' is BS invented by the fuel companies to slow the transition to unleaded gas in the 1970s. At the time this car was built, lead was only just starting to be phased in specifically as an octane booster, not to protect any engine parts. No automaker would design an engine that relies on a specific ingredient in fuel to remain operational. It's a total non-issue today unless you're towing a trailer through Death Valley at 80 MPH. You'll never have any problems running unleaded fuel in that car, I promise.

 

Ethanol is far more of a worry, but it sounds like you have that covered.

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19 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

You can safely skip the lead substitute. Buick blocks and heads have a higher nickel content than many others and hardened valve seats are unnecessary. The whole 'you need lead or your valve seats will be damaged' is BS invented by the fuel companies to slow the transition to unleaded gas in the 1970s. At the time this car was built, lead was only just starting to be phased in specifically as an octane booster, not to protect any engine parts. No automaker would design an engine that relies on a specific ingredient in fuel to remain operational. It's a total non-issue today unless you're towing a trailer through Death Valley at 80 MPH. You'll never have any problems running unleaded fuel in that car, I promise.

 

Ethanol is far more of a worry, but it sounds like you have that covered.

 

Great news, thank you Matt!  No plans on towing a trailer through Death Valley :-)

 

I truly appreciate the insight, thank you.

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Here is the car when I first saw it.  I bought it from this picture.  It had lived its life in Montana and had almost no rust on it.

But the frame was full of dirt.  The guy who was selling the car was a hot rod builder and thought this was too nice to hot rod.

When it was delivered the hauler laughed because where it said to circle damage, he had circled the whole car.

I was not dissapointed.

 

side1.jpeg

Edited by Bill Stoneberg (see edit history)
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20 hours ago, Bill Stoneberg said:

Here is the car when I first saw it.  I bought it from this picture.  It had lived its life in Montana and had almost no rust on it.

But the frame was full of dirt.  The guy who was selling the car was a hot rod builder and thought this was too nice to hot rod.

When it was delivered the hauler laughed because where it said to circle damage, he had circled the whole car.

I was not dissapointed.

 

side1.jpeg

 

 

I love these photos Bill!  I sent you a PM with my email address, if you have any 'in process' restoration photos, please let me know.  Thank you!

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10 hours ago, Bill Stoneberg said:

I sent you an email and will put together a flash drive with pictures for you. It may take me awhile though.

Hi Bill... for whatever reason, your email didn't come through.  I messaged you with an alternative email, so let's try that.

 

Thank you for the flash drive!  I really appreciate the help!

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Folks, I wanted to tie a bow around this thread... I ended up selecting Diamondback Auburn Deluxe 820-15 'bias look' radial tires for the '50 Buick.

 

They clear just fine and do not rub anywhere.  I couldn't be happier with the look, ride and performance of these tires.

 

If anyone out there has a late '40's/early '50's Buick, I highly recommend these tires.

 

Thank you to all on the forum for your help, all inputs were helpful and appreciated!

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On 11/20/2020 at 10:38 AM, old-tank said:

Pictures?

 

On 11/19/2020 at 6:59 PM, Kartman01 said:

Folks, I wanted to tie a bow around this thread...

 

Yeah what Old-Tank said.  This package needs some ribbon to go with the bow!  ;)

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