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Would like to replace the existing bias tyres on the 38  special with a new set of white walls.  Looking for ride quality and handling.  Stay with the bias cross plys or change to radials.  Newbie to Buicks seeking recommendation from those more experienced. Thank you in advance. 

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Are you looking to stay all original?  If so then bias ply are the way to go.  If you don't mind straying from all original radial will be safer and better at high speeds.  I'm no expert but from what i have been told radials will technically fit on some of these older wheels but can fail since they were not made for radials.  So if you go radials it would be best to also get new wheels that have the lip on them for radials.

There are radials sold like diamondbacks that have the bias ply look if you want the benefits of radial but still want to look original.

Personally I like staying original so I'm in the process of ordering some for my 37 and sticking with bias ply since I don't drive it a lot and I stay off the freeways.  I'm a newbie to the pre war Era so hopefully someone will chime in if I'm wrong.

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A 38 Special should be 6.50-16 shouldn't it?

 

There's not much available in regular tires, you are pretty much stuck with reproduction. Bias have the look. Diamondback radials hit the look real close.  Coker radials do too, though at least one forum member had a set of the Coker ones and they had a visible "radial bulge" even at higher pressures. He didn't like the way it looked and went back to bias. Radials go straighter. Whatever you do, check out the front end real good and fix any problems you find before you buy new tires. Adjust the steering box. Radials can mask front end problems, and you wont notice it until you have ruined a couple of tires. Tires like this are expensive. Inspect your wheels real good too, make sure you don't have any that are rusting thin or cracked. The "radials break wheels" thing is largely nonsense, at least if we are talking about normal drop center rims like you might find on a 38 Buick. If it happens at all it is most likely because people tend to drive faster on radials. Go around corners at the same speeds as you did on the bias tires if you want to avoid stressing the wheels. One more thing, if you opt for radials, put more air in than you did with bias. They like more air.

 

I struggle with this every time I have to buy tires because bias are authentic and you can't beat the look, but I like the way radials drive and I like the reliability.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Thank you for the replies. By the look of things bias is the way to go. Front end has been redone back to factory.  Unfortunately the tyres here in Oz cost a motzza  if staying period correct and flappers are out of the equation . More $ to be saved. Will chase diamond back to see if available here. Many thanks. 👍

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Slopelad,

 

Would I be correct in assuming you bought that black '38 Sloper from South Australia earlier this year?

 

Anyway, have you considered having tyres imported directly from the US? there is a fellow in New South Wales that has a vehicle and parts import business based in California you could get a quote from, they would come in a container and I understand there is a bit of a wait at the moment due to low levels of container space. If you are interested send me a PM and I will give you his contact details. Cheers Paul 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Paul

Apologies for late reply.  Yep bought sloper from Rodney in South Australia. Have joined the prewar Buick club Qld , best thing I ever did. Have the entire car overhauled from front to back and in between by the club mechanical and electrical boffins. Seats currently at trimmers being re springed and padded.  Found out I needed deep pockets  Trying to keep it as close as I can to original paint blemishes and all. If you are in Qld or visiting would love to show the car. 

There is a guy in Bribie Island who imports tyres but not regularly  so the only other place is Antique tyres in SA. The NSW contact would be great as it is alot closer.

kind regards

John. 

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On my 40 special I tried to get the right modern size as close to 6.5 x 16 as I could, but engine RPM at modern highway speed is a little high for modern peoples ears, who are used to 2000 RPM at fast highway speed. Get tires much bigger than you should, to drop the RPM to a comfortable level. That's what I would do if I could do it over again. 

 

I can't tell you what numbers because I don't know metric tire sizes

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In modern tires, all the tall 16 inch sizes have all been discontinued up here in the USA, but since you are in Australia, there might be some Toyota Hilux tires floating around (or so I have heard). 195/80r16 = 600-16 more or less, maybe 1/2" wider at about the same height. Something like 205/80 or better yet 195/90  or 205/90 or so might do nicely for 650-16 if they exist.

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18 minutes ago, Bloo said:

In modern tires, all the tall 16 inch sizes have all been discontinued up here in the USA, but since you are in Australia, there might be some Toyota Hilux tires floating around (or so I have heard). 195/80r16 = 600-16 more or less, maybe 1/2" wider at about the same height. Something like 205/80 or better yet 195/90  or 205/90 or so might do nicely for 650-16 if they exist.

 

The best I could get was 205/70 but if I did it over again I'd go with 245/70 or 235/70 and have super weird looking wide tires giving the car the wrong look but they would be a lot taller and make for lower RPM and better highway cruising. 

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I've had excellent success with COKER Bias-Look Radial whitewalls on my 1941 and 1954 Cadillacs.

I've driven many, many thousands of miles on them.

I understand that another member of the forum has had his issues, but not the case here. The time I had a concern, it was handled by Coker.

They do have a Coker Classic Nostalgia Radial with   Whitewall in size

550R-16

600R-16

650R-16

700R-16

and 700R-16

 

Whitewalls range in size from 2-3/4 to 4 inch

 

I agree that "The "radials break wheels" thing is largely nonsense". I've had no problems with the rims on my '41 Cadillac.

 

I did, some years ago, have a series of problems with D..........  honoring the Road Hazzard warranty I paid extra for,

and it took several calls and extensive time before it was honored. 

 

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I've put these Diamondback Auburn radials on several cars for people.  They all seem to like them.  I like the looks of them.  They'll hold up a 57' Caddy and not look squished like regular radials do.  A friend has Coker radials on a 41' Cadillac 75 series and they run 45 lbs or they look and feel flat.   

 

Our 40 Buick has Diamondbacks radials but are the modern tires with a whitewall applied.  Look like crap in my opinion.  

 

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Ended up going with the Auburn 650r16 3 ¼ ww radial tyres. now on order . Cost a small nations GDP here in OZ but have been informed they will fit the bill. 

Thank you to all that contributed advice. 

 

regards

john. 

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