Miles Cook
June 1, 2002

Testing, Testing
We wanted to do more than just bolt on a new set of wheels and tires and say, "Gee, don't they look great?" We wanted to really put the rubber to the road and see how much better the car drives and handles both in the real world and at the track. Our big sister magazine Motor Trend tests hundreds of new cars and trucks every year. Among MT's usual battery of performance testing is a test that gives a clear picture as to how a car handles.

With six cones set 100 feet apart from each other, the test driver runs the car through this 600-foot "slalom" as quickly as possible without spinning. The faster a car runs through, the better its handling characteristics are. We took our '65 fastback to Motor Trend's test facility to measure braking distances from 60-0 mph and slalom speeds with both sets of wheels and tires-changing the wheels and tires at the track.

While the difference in braking was somewhat better (we were fighting to keep the rear brakes from locking up), the slalom speed improvement was amazing! The car traveled nearly seven mph faster than with the smaller tire-and-wheel baseline of 53.4 mph. Not only that, the car feels much better. To give you an idea of how dramatic 7 mph is in a slalom test, it's like reducing a quarter-mile e.t. on a dragstrip by about three seconds.

It's been said that adding a good set of tires is the single biggest thing you can do improve a car's handling. The numbers below speak for themselves.

  Braking Speed through
  60-0 mph/feet 600-foot slalom
14-inch wheels and tires: 147.1 53.4 mph
15-inch wheels and tires: 143.1 60.3 mph