Wayne Cook
December 1, 2009
Photos By: The Manufacturer

Rolling Stock Review
Tire Guide

Whether you're driving a classic Ford or a new Mustang, eventually you'll need to replace the tires. On a classic car our choice of tires seems to be just as important as our choice of shocks, antisway bars or other suspension upgrades. We've taken many a classic Mustang and replaced the stock 14x5 wheels and high-profile tires with a set of 16x8 (or larger) wheels shod with low-profile performance tires. The improvement in vehicle performance and handling is profound, and just with the wheels and tires, half the battle of getting your classic car to drive like a new car is won. Needless to say the wheel and tire selection can make or break the appearance of your project too.

On the modern side of the equation we're coming up to the point on our '06 Mustang GT where a new tire purchase is definitely on the horizon. Although there are many excellent tires designed to perform in ice and snow conditions, the car's Southern California location means that we won't be dealing with too much snow or winter weather. While having the proper winter tire for parts of the country that fall below 45-degrees during the winter months is important, we decided to confine the parameters of our discussion to tires designed to perform at their best in dry or wet and dry conditions.

Often it's hard to criticize the tire choice of the OEM. Naturally it wants its new offerings to perform at their best and on our Mustang GT the Pirelli tires have been excellent. Although there are more expensive and grippier tires out there, the P-Zero Nero tires have shown a good balance between cornering adhesion ability and tread life.

Always remember to buy a tire with the correct speed rating for your project. If you think that your Mustang will see 140 mph during the Silver State Classic then you'll need to select a tire that's rated safe beyond that 140mph speed. The following chart in our story's sidebar shows what rating is required. An S-rated tire is fine for your '63 260 V-8 Falcon, but higher-performing cars should have an H or V rating at a minimum. While every tire manufacturer out there is not included here due to space constraints, we think you'll find that this overview will expose you to some of the best choices available.

Deciphering Tire Sidewalls
When we select a tire, the series of letters and numbers on the sidewall tells us a lot about what we're getting for our money and exactly what the tire's capabilities are. After the tire size designation, the two most important things to look for are the service description and the uniform tire quality grade or UTQG.

Let's look at a new tire sized at P235/55RR17 98W. The first number in our code, 235, is the tread width in millimeters. The next number, 55, is called the aspect ratio. Here, sidewall height is expressed as a percentage of tread width. In this case it's 55 percent, or slightly more than half the width of the tread. The 17 tells you that it's made to fit a wheel 17-inches in diameter. The R stands for radial tire. The second set of values, 98W, is the tire's service description. The service description is divided into two parts, the load index and the speed rating. The load index for cars and light trucks ranges from 70 to 110. The load index table is as follows. Capacities shown are for a tire that is properly inflated.

Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport
The Potenza RE760 Sport is Bridgestone's ultra-high-performance summer tire developed for drivers of sports cars and performance sedans who want to maximize sport driving pleasure without sacrificing tread life. The Potenza RE760 Sport is designed to deliver sharp response along with traction in wet and dry conditions. However, like all summer tires, the Potenza RE760 Sport is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures, through snow or on ice. Bridgestone's UNI-T Technology focuses on three primary tire components-the beads, casing, and tread-that influence overall performance by enhancing comfort, handling, and traction. The Potenza RE760 Sport molds an ultra-high-performance tread compound into an asymmetric tread design with a 3D center block to enhance dry traction and cornering ability. The tire's asymmetric internal structure includes a Computer Optimized Component System that combines two high-tensile steel belts reinforced by spirally wrapped nylon to stabilize the tread area, enhances handling, high-speed capability, and ride quality while minimizing weight. The tire's stiffer outer sidewall reinforcement enhances steering response and cornering stability.

Fitment Example
Service Description: 94W
Price: $135
(800) 807-9555

BFGoodrich G Force T/A KDW
The BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW is billed as an ultra-high-performance summer tire developed to provide a blend of excellent dry and wet road performance. The BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW is available in most popular sizes. This tire is not intended to be driven in near-freezing temperatures or through snow or on ice. The design features large tread blocks to enhance dry road stability, handling, and wear under high cornering loads. The rounded shoulder profiles help provide feedback for the driver communicating the tire's progressive and predictable characteristics as they reach their limits of adhesion. The tire is made with a silica-reinforced tread compound. The directional tread design has wide circumferential and lateral grooves to speed water evacuation. This provides improved wet traction and reduces the risk of hydroplaning. This design is similar to the g-Force T/A radial racing rain tires used in the Sports Car Club of America Trans Am Series. Other construction features include twin steel belts reinforced by spirally wound nylon strips to provide excellent strength, consistent footprint pressure, and maximum contact area while reducing weight and enhancing ride quality. The g-Force T/A KDW tires feature "g-Control" sidewall inserts to resist deflection and generate cornering force while rim protector ribs help protect alloy wheels from curb damage.

Fitment Example
Service Description: 95Y
Price: $132
(877) 788-8899