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
- 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
- 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.