Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
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Tire Sizes By Mustang Chassis Types
When it comes to maximizing your Mustang's performance, there are many factors to consider. Power, suspension package, brake setup, and of course, to put it all to work, the proper wheel and tire package are all essential elements to getting the most out of your performance investments. Here is a quick look at some tire and wheel recommendations for the various years of Mustang.
Fox-Body ('79 - '93)
The Fox-body cars witnessed a huge growth in the number of wheel and tire packages available. Of course, upgrading the Fox cars to a five-bolt configuration greatly expands the number of combinations available. Typically, fender clearance and quad-shock interference are the limiting factors for tire packaging under stock Fox fenders. 225/60-16 are an easy fit under most stock Foxes. Making the move up to 255/45-17 tires will fit under the stock fenders, as long as they are mounted on wheels with the proper backspacing and offset. The real hot set up for road course going Foxes is the move up to 275/40-17 tires mounted on 17x9 wheels. However, this package will require some "clearancing" inside the rear fenders, including rolling the fender lips. Up front, it will take some seriously "tweaked" front fenders to make room for the big 275 section width. It can be done by an accomplished body shop or via the installation of some flared front fenders.
SN95 Body ('94 - '04)
When they first came out, the Mustang faithful claimed our new, lithe, more sculpted ponycars looked like 4x4s. OK, so at their stock ride height, maybe they did have a little too much fender clearance around the tires. But, as modified suspensions became the norm for these cars, those same large fenderwells provided excellent room for a staggering array of tire and wheel combinations, be it street, strip, or road course. When a 17x9 wheel and 275 section width tires fit under a stock ride-height car, you know good things await those wanting to maximize their tire contact patch. Personally, I like the looks and performance envelope of a 275 tire mounted on 17x9 wheels on this car in all four positions. Yes, you can fit 11-inch wide wheels under the rear, but that eliminates the possibility of being able to rotate your tire and wheel package from the rear to the front. Another nice tire and wheel combination for SN95 cars is the 18x9.5 wheel and 275 tire package that debuted on the '00 Cobra R.
S197 Body ('05 - current)
If you thought the SN95 fenderwells were large, take a look at how small 16-inch wheels and tires look under stock V6 Mustangs. Once again, the engineers and designers at Ford gave us some huge fenderwells, made to look even larger with their exaggerated exterior fender arches. The only wheel and tire drawback to these cars is that they need larger wheels and tires to deal with the extra mass (and horsepower) the S197 cars bring to the party. The SVT/Shelby GT500 utilizes 18x9.5 wheels front and rear, but uses slightly larger tires out back (285/40-18 versus the front 255/45-18) to try and cope with the 500+ horsepower these cars put out. For me, I would most likely stick with the 18x9.5-inch wheels, but look to a more balanced tire package, something that could be rotated front to rear.