blank 06/26/13 09:57AM hot rods, Muscle Cars, street rods, Tire Buying Guide, Tires

Here is Your Tire Buying Guide for Muscle Cars

Selecting tires for your muscle car are a little like scrutinizing your daughter’s new boyfriend. There is a criteria list, and most have little chance of being good enough. This isn’t a grocery go-getter you’re driving here — this car is like your baby. The “Discount Tire Special” down the street doesn’t cut it. High performance means better traction and sleek appearance, but how does one go about finding the right tire fit?

What High Performance Means?

High performance isn't just a catchy phrase people toss around like “all natural.” There's a difference between a performance model and a passenger tire.

  • Physical Dimensions: A performance brand is wider. This has to do with aspect ratio — the height of the tire’s sidewall divided by the width of its rim. Performance tires have a stouter sidewall and thus a lower aspect ratio. The lower the aspect ratio, the better the tire handles when cornering.
  • Traction: When dealing with tires, there are two types of traction: mechanical and molecular. Mechanical defines how well the tire manages imperfections on the road while molecular means "stickiness." Performance tires use softer rubber to increase the molecular traction.
  • Tread: It's more complex than you think: designers spend years finding perfect tread designs. For a performance tire, you want tread that provides stability with minimal groves and more rubber impact on the road.

Making the Right Decision

Unlike your daughter’s boyfriend, you actually have a say in what tires go on your car. Purchasing cheap will affect car performance. Beyond those words of wisdom, the choices get trickier. First, learn the lingo.

  • Bias Ply: Cheaper tires with cord strips that go diagonally — not a good choice if you're looking for maneuverability or speed.
  • Bias Belted: Not much better than regular bias.
  • Radial Ply: Better quality with ply cords that cross the center tread. Most tires fit into this category.
  • Slicks: Drag tires made with soft rubber for better traction. Not a practical choice unless restoring a classic or racing car.
  • Ratings: This is a key part of understanding the tire. All tires have a rating that refers to lifespan. The higher the rating, the longer the tread will last.
  • Speed Value: This is a second rating found on tires and critical for muscle cars. It refers to the maximum speed the tire can withstand and maintain structural integrity.

Tires to Consider

Owning a muscle car means you're part of a community. Gearheads like to chatter about personal favorites like Continental Tires from TireBuyer, which ship free to a local installer or straight to your home. Consider a few that have gearhead approval.

  • Goodyear Assurance Triple Tread: an all-weather tire that comes with three different speed ratings all of them fast.
  • Hankook Optimo H727: A lower-cost option for those on a budget.
  • Michelin Pilot Sport PS2: This high-performance tire will set you back some. It's an optimal choice when looking for speed, but doesn’t handle well on ice.

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