Discussion on Different Brands of Tires and Which Are Best For Your Imperial

 


Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Wheels & Tires  -> Brands


Cooper:

From Mark:

I think Kelly and Cooper also offer outstanding tires for about the same price as the Remy--however they lack the snazz-appeal. Coop makes some of the best agricultural equipment and trailer tires around, too. Kelly is the choice of many police forces and state troopers out here who need dependability at high speed on bad roads. Kelly has a storied Western reputation for dependability of their mud and snow product for cars, big rigs, and Greyhound/Flexible bus. I know people who run Remys all year except for the 3 months we call winter when we may or may not get snow. The Kelly set goes on when the blizzard is on the way.


Dunlop:

From Bruno:

Never had any luck with Dunlop tires , they either fall apart, develop bubbles or pull to one side, the worst of the worst !

From Ed:

First on Tuesday, I was driving my old ('72) Caddy Convertible to the airport here in Orlando to catch a flight up to Atlanta on business that afternoon. I was on the freeway (a mere euphemism in Florida for "tollway") when suddenly WHOOMP, the car began shuddering VIOLENTLY. I honestly thought I had broken an axle, as I barely made my way off to the shoulder. Sure enough, HALF of the tread was GONE from the front left tire (along with a lower kick panel trim piece and some paint), but oddly, the tire was still inflated. A quick change to the spare, and i was on my way to catch my flight, a bit soiled and sweaty (and scared).

Two days later, I was driving my 81 Imperial, Claire, home from Atlanta. She was pulling a bit to the right, and this began to worsen. At one of my unfortunately frequent gas stops, I inspected the tires, and all looked fine. Back on the freeway, it happens again...Whoomp, and I make my way to the narrow shoulder on I-75. Sure enough, the right rear tire tread had separated, not as violently as on the Caddy, but frighteningly enough, and the tire was flat. Considering the lack of shoulder space and the traffic whizzing by at 80 mph, I called AAA for a tow to the nearby Allied Tire store, one of a chain where I had bought those crappy Dunlop Axioms not two years and 20,000 miles earlier.

The "technician" at Allied explained that Dunlop discontinued the Axiom line and replace it with the Axiom-II "because they were a havin' troubles with 'em fallin' apart like that." I ended up replacing all four tires.

I must tell you all that I wrote Dunlop a long letter about this experience and the surprisingly short life and SUDDEN DEATH of these so-called "60,000" mile tires. A rude representative from Dunlop phoned me, basically to tell me I didn't deserve squat for spending a fortune on their crappy tires.

Lesson learned: DO NOT PUT DUNLOPS ON YOUR PRIDE-AND-JOY IMPERIALS!!


Firestone:

From Ed:

I have always had my doubts about Firestone tires. I recall a rather sizeable recall some years back of a defective model. The, about two year ago, I had a relatively new tire, with low mileage on it, come apart while driving on the freeway in my '72 Eldorado Convertible. The tire failed so catastrophically that it literally shook the car as if an axle had broken. About 2/3 of the tread had separated, and when it did, it tore off a trim piece from the side of the car, dented another, and scratched the side of the car too. I was just thankful that I was able to maintain control of the car, so no harm done to me. Firestones are crap in my book.

From Chris:

My 721s have been providing satisfactory performance since 1994 on my Imperial. The 721 was the tire introduced in the late 1970s as the replacement for the ill-fated Steel Radial 500. It's been occasionally improved through the years and has had no significant incidence of failure.

This recall affects only the Wilderness, ATX and ATX II models of Firestone tire manufactured at their Decatur, Illinois, plant in size P235/75R15. Bridgestone-Firestone estimates there are 6.4 million such tires on the road. These are all SUV tires, with raised white letters or blackwalls, and the tread separation is linked to driving in warm climates with low inflation. It is notable that Ford specifies a 26-psi inflation on the labels in Explorers (which account for nearly all of the forty-some incidents), while GM recommends 35 psi in the same tire used on Chevy Blazers and the lovely (hack!) new Pontiac Azteccch.

For the rest of us, it's a good reminder to have your wheels aligned and tires rotated and re-balanced every 5,000 miles, and to check inflation every few weeks, regardless of tire brand and model.

By the way, in case I sound like a mouthpiece for Firestone, I'm not. In fact, I run Dunlops on several of my other cars, have stuck with the Goodyears on my Jeeps and PT, and put my mom on a set of Bridgestones for her station wagon that she drives like a sports car.

By the way, anyone searching for tires owes it to themselves to try The Tire Rack, a mail-order tire dealer with whom I've done business for 10 or 15 years. Their prices can't be beat, their service is top-notch, and their website  offers a wealth of useful information. At the very least, you'll know if your local tire dealer is giving you a fair price (I think $10-15 per tire over Tire Rack's price is fair, since you don't have to pay shipping and get immediate gratification... and mounting! Plus you support a local business...).

From George:

I had heard the grumble over the "old" 721's...and then had a tread separation on the '65 F75 at rather high speed (like 90)...thetire store I use and trust installed two new tires..I thought they would be the same BFGs that were on the car... surprise they were "new" 721's...2000 miles later it still rides like the liner it is in a calm sea despite the MS heat and heaving roadways. Bias ply tires...Ole Blue ('69 Elec) still rides on tires my father bought in '73..and every trip gets harder to bear (and to steer)...the plies shift position more often than a MS congressman eating diner with a Baptist preacher at Disneyland!

From Mark:

I have the Firestone FR721 on my 54 New Yorker and my 63 LeBaron. I love them. No problem in rain (does it rain on the Oregon Coast?). They handle nicely and are cost effective. Buy 'em.

From Bill:

The 721 is still in production but only sporadically, according to my source at Bridgestone-Firestone HQ. Meaning they make a bunch and then let them sell out, which they do. They are currently readily available... I bought a few more last month at Tire Station (owned by Firestone). The 721 is the only tire they still make for a passenger car that is Extra Load rated, and it's their only 1-5/8" whitewall.

From Bill M.:

According to my Firestone source, the 721 has now been discontinued & replaced with a much better tire; the FR 440. I put a set of 440's on my 69 Coronet & have beat the road 3 times in the last 5 weeks from Visalia, Ca, to Dr. Mike Bullock's in Saratoga, Ca, 245 miles each way of high speed driving & I'm very happy with them, of course on the return trip each time the trunk is full of 1955 & 1965 Imperial parts. You could have your dealer run a search for you to locate 721's if your just aching for them, but the FR 440's have worked good for about 2000 miles for me.

Question from Norm:

Do the Firestone 721 tires balance perfectly so as to give a totally (tire) vibration free ride? I have used Michelins exclusively for this reason only but would like the added benefit of a wider whitewall provided the tires do not shake-at all and at any speed.

Reply from Chris:

I have had no problems with balancing or vibration with these tires, and they do tend to sit in one place for a long time, so having no problems with flat-spotting amazes me all the more. Since this one size of the 721 is Extra-Load rated (it has XL at the end of its 235/75R15 tire size), perhaps this helps. I do not notice an inordinate number of wheel weights on any of the wheels, either. So far I've been pleased with both the appearance and function.

Firestone 500:

From Andy:

I had a complete set of four Firestone 500 tires on a 1971 Thunderbird separate during a vacation trip in 1977. By the time I reached my destination, I was totally fed up with Firestone, and I had purchased five new Michelin radials. The Michelin tires improved the handling of the car, I had better gas mileage on my return trip, and they provided excellent service. I will never have a vehicle with Firestone tires on it again. I think they are horrible tires. No doubt there are a few SUV owners out there that agree with me.

From Bill:

Just a little side note or maybe some history but both my Father and Brother worked for Firestone in the 500's through the early 70's. This is not the same company as it was then. Firestone was actually bought out by Bridgestone and is owned and controlled by them. They kept the name of Firestone because of it's recognition. When I first started buying tires, I also bought Riverside's. They were the name of Monkey (Montgomery) Wards tires. The reason I bought these is they were cheaper but built for Wards by Firestone. The big kicker was that Firestone built them better than their own label tires because Wards demanded higher specs. Go figure! I am sure that this is still true today. I believe there are actually only a handful of tire builders left in the world, but you will have a million names. Most tire shops that really know the business will tell you who builds their tires. I have used Big O the past few years which is very large in Utah. They have great service and road hazard is included on their tires. There is a Big O shop in almost every town over 5000 population where I travel if I have a problem. They will always take care of you, no questions asked.


Goodyear:

From Kerry:

I run the Goodyears on my 64 at 30-32. Love em.

From Pete:

I got Goodyear Regattas (235's) for $95 @ at a local Goodyear dealer (not more that 200' from my home). 1" W/W. Excellent results.

From Kenyon:

BF Goodrich "Silver Town" tires are fantastic. The last '60 that I had came with them, and they looked authentic as hell. More so than the Goodyear because they have more script, and it is in antique typeface and looks really neat and old. They are about $100 u.s. each.

From Jack:

My first set of 235/70/15's were Goodrich, but Goodrich doesn't make that size in a whitewall anymore.

From Elijah:

When I first got the car it had Goodyear Tiempos, and the difference between the two was amazing. The Michelin's have stronger side walls than many other radials, which definitely yields better handling on an Imperial.


Kelly:

From Mark:

I think Kelly and Cooper also offer outstanding tires for about the same price as the Remy--however they lack the snazz-appeal. Coop makes some of the best agricultural equipment and trailer tires around, too. Kelly is the choice of many police forces and state troopers out here who need dependability at high speed on bad roads. Kelly has a storied Western reputation for dependability of their mud and snow product for cars, big rigs, and Greyhound/Flexible bus. I know people who run Remys all year except for the 3 months we call winter when we may or may not get snow. The Kelly set goes on when the blizzard is on the way.


Michelin

From Dick:

Good radials will be a big improvement in high speed ride, safety and handling. By good, I mean Michelins -accept no substitute! Unfortunately, there ARE NO really "good" wide white tires, including the new radial wide whites sold by Coker and others. All the wide white tires I am aware of are basically very cheaply built tires that are made for show only.

I think the extra money for the Michelins is well worth it! That is exactly what I have on my 68, and after 12 years they are still perfect in all respects, no sign of age cracking, smooth and quiet. The 235R70's are going to look rather low and wide on that car, I think 235R75's are a better choice (almost an inch taller, same width).

From Jack:

I put Michelin radials on my 61 way back in 1972. The difference was better control and a slightly numb feeling until I got used to them. The cornering ability was great. It was the best cornering barge I ever drove.

From Chris:

I had Michelin's on my '66 LeBaron originally, but found them to be too harsh. It sounds funny in light of today's headlines, but I found the Firestones to be a much better tire for this particular car.

My '66 Convertible is quite content with the XH4's. I suspect it is because of the slightly more flexible body and special cushioned steering linkage that absorbs more harshness than the sedan.

From Norm:

I have only had experience with 64 and 66 converts and XH4's . They do ride somewhat harshly and noisily but they do balance best (I hate vibration). What is the action of the steering linkage which acts to absorb the extra road harshness and can it be renewed?  We had a new 65 Crown back then and it did not ride smoothly as did a comparable Cadillac. It did, however have a way of making very few large undulating motions and could be compared to a 84 vintage Audi in that the platform was impossible to rattle- it was always stable and made the bumps disappear, but in a firm way, not a smooth way. It was more Mercedes-like in its ride quality in that it tended toward the stiff side.

From Elijah:

Both grandmother and myself have gotten a lot of mileage out of the Michelin X, XH, and XH4 series radials. I tried a set of Goodyear Tiempos on my Imperial, but it wore the tread off all four tires in about 25,000 miles -- the car was just too heavy for the tires. The Michelins are the only things we have found which give any kind of tread mileage on an Imperial -- but I don't think we ever tried the Firestones, so I can't speak there. Grandmother has also had very good luck with Cooper tires on her '78 New Yorkers, and they are less expensive than the Michelins.

From David:

We have a set of Sears Michelins ("Roadhandlers") on our 81 Olds Delta 88 Royale. They have about 60,000 miles on them and have plenty of tread left. They are quiet, ride well, handle well, track straight, and are good in the rain. What more could one want? :) I just bought 5 tires for my 1969 Imperial this last weekend. Didn't even consider anything but Michelins, but decided to get "real" ones this time, not Sears models. The current "top-line" Michelin for cars like ours is the MXV4 "RainForce". I am very happy with them so far, but of course it's kinda soon to tell. :) I have absolutely no doubt they will prove to be great, long-lasting tires. The other Michelin model mentioned to you (XH4) is still available and is somewhat cheaper than the MXV4. Pays your money and takes your choice. :) I'm sure that if you choose any model Michelin appropriate for our cars you will be very pleased.

From Dale:

I have Michelins on my '68 Coupe and they are great. I bought them on a recommendation from a man that has had a lot of '68 Imperials. The model tire I have is quiet, smooth riding and cost a little under $400 at Sam's club.


Remington:

From Mark:

Another beautiful tire is the Remington line that looks wonderful on Imperials. It's more subtle than the snazzy gold crowns, but they're a lovely design and a fine, durable, nice riding product. Remy's are among my favorite tires and probably the best-looking still in production. They're about $80 or so for the size for our cars.

I've noticed that the Chrysler 300 Club out here seems to think Remingtons are the ONLY thing to put on. They all seem to have them. Ditto for the Pontiac-freaks (there are such people and I assume they have complete faculties...)

From Bob:

 

I've got 2 Remingtons on my Jeep and they came highly endorsed by my buddies in the desert who said they hold up better than most in hot climates. My tire dealer also endorses them and said he likes to sell tires that don't give problems so he doesn't have to see them again! So far, so good!


Royal Seal

From Jon (1978):

Well, I was checking everything over on my 1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham, to make sure everything was ready for the trip to Akron, Ohio, from my home in Michigan (to WPC meet). It will be so exciting to be driving in my Imperial for such a long trip, as I have never taken it so far. I expect it to be a very comfortable ride, with the A/C on all the way, and the Corinthian leather to lean back on. Set the cruise control, maybe. I bought some new rear speakers for my car at Wal-Mart, because one of my back speakers wasn't working. They are called "Road Gear" dual cone speakers, and I only spent $10 for each. They have a cool gold-tone center. Looks fancy. (since then, I have installed the new speakers and they sound great) As I was getting ready to empty my trunk, to install the new speakers, I noticed that the spare tire was rotted to pieces (original tire, though). That is not a good idea, to travel long-distance w/o a spare tire! So, my father and I took the tire up to a place, and asked the salesperson to find us a $20 used (whitewall) tire, in good condition (to match the wheel). The guy came back with a "Uniroyal Royal Seal" white wall tire, with a beautiful gold pinstripe and a gold crown designed onto the tire. It was AWESOME! The pinstripe and crown matched the color of my car (Golden Fawn)! It was the most beautiful tire I had ever seen. I bought it for $20, and it was in great condition for a used tire. So, today I used Bleach-White on the tire, with a brush, and it looks brand new! It was mounted on the wheel by the guy at the tire place, and inflated. Now that it's clean, I'm going to put it in my trunk and tell everyone It's the original spare! Right now, I have cheapo new Kelly tires, but at least they are white walls. My question is, are Royal Seal tires still available? Where do you get them, and how much do they cost? My dad said that the ultra-expensive '70s cars had Royal Seals, so now I really need to get them. :) Now I need to go put the spare in the trunk.....

Replies:

From Bob:

Coker has some US Royal tires (with dual white stripe) listed on their web site for older hot rods and cruisers, but I don't know if the sizes are right.

From Carmine:

Jon, sorry to bear bad news, but I just tried to find a set of gold stripe Royal Seals for my '79 5th. They were discontinued a while back. I bought a set brand new for my '77 back in '96, and they do look great on this type of car. If you call around to a few tire places, you might find someone with an old unused set in back, since they were still being made in '96. I'd recommend starting at Discount Tire. If it helps, they were OEM on '92-'96 Buick Roadhazards and Caddy Brohammys. I used the 235/70R15 size on a set of 8" wide wagon wheels on my NYB. Put you stock hubcaps on and they'll look original. You'll benefit by their wider width, lighter weight and increased brake cooling. Vogue makes gold stripe tires, but they are overpriced junk.

Follow-up from Jon:

I can't believe Uniroyal would quit making such a beautiful tire. That is awful. Maybe I'll just buy four more used Royal Seals, and put them on. They are in as good condition as my Kellys, used. :) Wouldn't cost me very much..... My mom had a '93 Ford Thunderbird (UGLY), before she bought her '96 Town Car. The Thunderbird went in for new tires (Michelins), before she sold it. The new tires were white walls, but the tire place put them on backwards (so the whitewalls wouldn't show), favoring a "clean, contemporary" look. I tried to talk my parents into at least turning the tires around so the whitewalls would show, but they wouldn't. The '93 Thunderbird was such a plain, plasticky, chrome-less car, the white walls would have dressed it up (somewhat). Well, at least I have a gaudy car to show off, with whitewall tires AND globs of chrome.

From Lawrence:

Look in the yellow pages phone book-under-TIRES- if you are near a good size city-you will probably find several dealers that sell UniRoyal tires- product lines and prices change over the years and prices will vary from tire dealer to tire dealer- the dealer will be able to answer all your questions. UniRoyal is still in business -ever hear of "TigerPaws"?


Vogue:

From Carmine:

Vogue makes gold stripe tires, but they are overpriced junk.

From Mark:

Vogues are crap from Korea that shouldn't even be on the market. I don't think they even make any big enough for an Imperial anyway. Like many Yokos, they're famous for blowouts on anything other than silken interstate asphalt (In Colorado we're famous for our non-maintenance of roads: I don't think there's fresh blacktop anywhere in the state).

I think Vogue went the way of Firestone and Goodrich and others who shipped their fabrication over to Asia and ruined their reputations. Boy did they ruin their reputations. The Vogues I've looked at are obviously inferior products, prone to cup wear even with front ends properly aligned. The fabricating gauge of the product is obviously less than the superior Remy line. You don't have to even touch them to observe the difference.

They look like they have tread from hell, but it's just an illusion since they leave half of it on the road and is not well-supported underneath. Around here there have been so many complaints about them and Yokohama, that it prompted a story in the Post's auto section, a consumer alert on one of the TV stations, and some outlets not carrying them any longer, Discount being one.

From Bob:

I don't know what happened to Vogue's ownership over the years, but for a long time, these were considered "premium" tires and I still see them on many Caddy's (with older owners) and know of more than one Imperial with Vogue tires.

From Harold:

Vogue tires are sold mainly at Cadillac dealers. They have a slightly wider white than the current day whitewall and a very narrow yellow accent band. They are very classy and quite expensive. I've coveted a set for years, but never made the investment. Tires can get ground up pretty fast on these cars when used as a daily driver, as mine is. ('70 LeBaron)


Question from Brian:

Does anyone have any experience with the Pep Boy's 4 for $99 specials?  I'll save the Michelins for a car that I am actually going to drive 20k in the next year rather than one that will sitting the majority of the time!

Reply from Steve:

Yes I have bought the Pep Boys four for $99 specials. The tires could never be balance correctly. I ended wasting more time and money on those tires than it would have cost to put decent tires on the car. Save yourself some grief and get a decent "cheaper" set of tires. I have had very good luck with Goodyear tires and they are in the %50 each range.


Question from Ned (1949):

I am in need of tires. I am as interested in looks as durability.

The 820-15 Firestones on the '48 Crown Imperial have a 5.5" tread width and I think a 5" tread width is going to look narrow in comparison. They also have only a 2.5" whitewall which looks very nice on it.

Here is what I have found:

Coker: Firestone 890-15 5" whitewall with 5" Tread Width $170.00 each
Load Capacity 2210 @ 32 psi (enough)

Univeral Vintage Tire: Lester 820-15 4" whitewall with 5.75 Tread Width $134.00 each
Load Capacity 1920 @ 32 psi (cutting it close with 290# less than the Firestone)

When I measure a 5" whitewall there would be only a little more than an inch of black showing before the tread. That seems like a lot of white to me! What do you think?

Are there other recommended sources?

Replies:

From John:

There are many big tire stores out here in AZ. I would check with some of them to see if they can come up with something. Although the 2nd tire sounds like it might have the right look, cutting it close on the load range may be risky out here. Hardly a day goes by that I don't see tire treads on the highway. The heat & the ruff pavement really does a job on them .

From Dick:

The 5 inch whitewall width is correct for 1948.

I agree, it looks too wide to our eyes today, but in 1948, that was the way they were, in the very rare cases when whitewalls were supplied.

Your car came with 890/15 6 ply tires because of the weight of the car.

The Coker “Firestone” branded tires are probably 6 ply also, from the weight rating, although your car originally specified only 24 PSI tire pressure.

The car manufacturers in those days always specified an unrealistically low tire pressure because they were trying to impress with the soft ride, and they didn’t really care about tread wear or handling. I worked in a tire plant in the mid-50s, inspecting incoming (prospective) recap tires, and in most cases, the tires had been run seriously under inflated, so I don’t propose that you actually use the 24 PSI spec, but perhaps 28 PSI as a compromise.

My 1947 Packard Limousine has 16 inch wheels, but otherwise is a similar car, requiring 6 ply tires because of its weight. I found that Coker sells a “B. F. Goodrich” branded tire that was excellent for the car, and has proven very satisfactory in service, with no balance or roundness problems, something that cannot be said about many of the reproduction “name branded” tires, (which are, I believe, made offshore under license from the original manufacturers, whose brand names are permitted to be put on the tires, although they have nothing to do with making them.)

I previously used Lester tires on the car, and was not happy with them because of yellowing of the sidewall and problems with blowouts in our high desert temperatures and high freeway speeds.


Question from Jim (1960):

I need to purchase some new tires for my Imperial.  I went to my local tire dealer recently and they are out of the "entry level" 235's with the 1 3/4 whitewall (Classkas or Corsicas....something like that). So instead of $74 each (I need 4 new ones, for sure), the others start at like $150 each <gulp>.  Anybody know of ANY less expensive, but good quality alternatives??

Replies:

From Pete:

I got Goodyear Regattas (235's) for $95 @ at a local Goodyear dealer (not more that 200' from my home). 1" W/W. Excellent results.

From George:

Tires (E225='69 Electra, F75= '65 Fleetwood 75 Formal Sedan) both 235X75X15 BF Goodrich XLM's 1 5/8" WW.... $90.00 each. These were on my E225 (2 years old) Here's the shocker: I thought (god, what a mistake) that the F75 had Goodyear's! I just went to check....It has the Firestone FR721's 1 5/8" WW..these are "new" (less than 6 months old) $79.95 each. All of these from a regional Goodyear/Goodrich/Cooper dealer (Big 10 Tires). How they got the Firestones I don't know...but you can bet I'll find out the current 721 story (I haven't noticed anything but improvement since these were installed).

From Brett:

Check out Antique Automotive Accessories' remanufactured wide whites. They have been written about a few times in Old Cars Weekly and advertise regularly. They come with a 30,000 mile/2 year warranty and 235's sell for around $105 each. The folks on the phone seen more than happy to explain the remanufacturing process and can send info via snail mail. Phone (913)862-3516, fax (913)862-4646. I'm sure they have an 800 listed in their ad as well.


Question from Dave (1966):

I have a '66 LeBaron that I drive very little, a few hundred miles a year lately. I was checking out my tires recently. I bought my tires in '94 so they are ten years old. This has caused me to consider replacing them. I have a tire in mind that I want to buy for my car. I wanted to ask if anyone else has used the tire that I want to buy. It is a Vogue Tyre, a premium radial tire with a 80,000 mile treadwear expectancy. I would be buying a 235/70 R15 if I buy them. They do not make a 235/75 R15 as this is the tire size I have on the car now. I think my current tires have less than 4000 miles on them and I do not notice any harshness problems or vibration when I drive at highway speeds. I do not think the tires have developed flat spots yet. I have never gotten a flat tire yet either. Basically, my current tires still have tread like new and I still do not see any dry rot cracks on the tread or side walls. The white stripe is a little yellowed but I can make it pretty white if I scrub it with Brillo or SOS pads. My parents had a nice luxury car in the late 80's that had Vogue brand tires and I remember them being a VERY quiet tire with excellent dry and wet handling characteristics. I realize tires are quite a personal preference depending on the driver of the car. Tires are much like oil and oil filters in my opinion, everybody has their own specific flavor that they like to use. Just wanted to know if there were any other Imperial owners that have tried a Vogue tire on their
own cars. I think it will look great with the large white stripe and the thin gold stripe.

Replies:

From Paul:

Vogue's are great. I had a friend that ran a set on his Lavender and White '66 LeBaron for 90,000 miles. They are expensive, and I think that they are usually purchased these days from a Cadillac Dealer.

Remember, if you drive your car only a few hundred miles per year, you will be in the same boat as you are now in ten years with a tire that probably cost you twice as much.

From Demetrios:

Do you drive this car fast? When you drive it, do you drive it long distances? Do you drive in hot climates and on hot pavement? If not, and since the tires do not show any signs of cracking or flat spotting, may be you can hold on them a while longer. Tires deteriorate in part via sun light and atmosheric pollution. If you think your car has been reasonably well protected, may be your tires are not ready to be trashed just yet. I have been rightly accused of being cheap, but I would hesitate replacing a set of tires, just because they are old, if they ride well, handle well, and look OK. I would keep an eye on them though.

When I bought my '68 LeBaron, the seller in Mississippi told me that the tires were new, and the vibration would go away once they get driven some. He was an old-timer mechanic, so I trusted his opinion. Boy, was he wrong. On my way back to TX, one separated badly, and then the spare followed. WHen I made it back to Austin, I replaced them all (or, those few that remained). But the reason why these tires expired is that the car was not driven AT ALL for very long periods at a time. Your tires may have not suffered the same fate. You say you don't drive the car often, but I suspect it moves at least once a moth or so...

From David:

235/75R15 is the closest radial in diameter to stock bias ply tires. You can play around with other wheel sizes and go a few percentage points up or down from stock outside tire diameter, so a 70 will work. You need a different speedometer pinion gear for different diameters. The other thing you should consider is adjusting the suspension for the change in ride height.

Here is a link which is of general interest to anyone considering outside tire diameter other than stock.
http://www.moparts.com/Tech/Archive/auto/12.html

There is another really good link that tells you which color stripe to look for on the part.

This one tells you by part number what speedometer pinion you need for which gear ratio going back to 1957 depending on outside tire diameter

From John:

You may want to think twice before purchasing Vogue tires. A coworker has them on his Cadillac & it seems like every 6 months, he is getting defective tires replaced. Matter of fact, he just sent it to the Cadillac dealer last week with 2 that are defective. I'd buy a decent set of Goodyear or Michelin before buying something like that. Being limited production & the fact they are sold through Cadillac, you're paying a lot more then they are worth.

From Bill:

I had a set of Vogue tires a few years ago which quickly became plagued with broken belts...may have been just that lot of course.


Question from Dimetrios (1967-1968):

I was curious as to what exactly "low profile" meant in the 67 and 68 brochure for the 9.15-15 tires back then.  70% aspect ratio tires were common in '67 and '68 (mainly for muscle cars), and I suspected that low-profile for the Imp would also mean 70% (in 1970, 60% aspect ratio appeared). I was going through the Chrysler Standard Catalogue today, and the 9.15x15 was dropped in 1970 for an L78-15 (78% aspect ratio) which is not described any more as low profile, according to John. Thus, low profile must have meant something less than 78, which could be 70%.

Reply from Chris:

Having seen original 9.15x15 tires on cars, and having done some research over the years on this topic, it is my belief that the "standard" aspect ratio in the mid-late 1960s was still 82-84%. The 78% aspect ratio was probably the "new norm" as the 1960s drew to a close, even though tire sizes did not officially include it in their designation until the alphanumeric sizing system came along.

The 9.15x15 tires I have seen (including some original spares) are certainly not 70-series tires. They appear to the naked eye to be taller in sidewall height than they are wider in section, though this is an illusion because the tread patch is a good 3" narrower than the tire casing at its midpoint. (Remember, the width is measured as section width, not tread width.)

A quick review of the Coker tire catalog for similar tire applications shows the following:

9.15x15 tire: 8.5" section, 29.8" overall diameter L78-15 tire: 8.85" section, 29.3" overall diameter

You can see that the 78-series tire is wider but not as tall, suggesting that the 9.15x15 (occasionally listed as an 83% aspect ratio in their catalog) is clearly a higher aspect ratio.

Here's a modern-tire for comparison:

235/75R15 tire: 9.41" section width, 28.91" overall diameter

Even wider and less tall, you can see.

My suspicions are that any "low-profile" claims were based on what people were used to, which in 1960s could go back in their minds to the even taller, narrower tires of the 1950s. In other words, the ad agency took some license, since the tires were pretty much the same proportions as all luxury cars of the day (Lincoln used the same size, Cadillac used a 9.00x15).

It's all in the perspective... It wasn't that long ago that 60-series tires were considered ultra-low-profile, and now it's not all that unusual for sports cars to have anything from a 55 to a 35 from the factory, and unusual to see anything taller than a 65 on all but the lowest car lines.


Question from Jack (1968):

I'm getting ready to buy tires for my 68 Crown. I know a couple months ago that all were talking about what good tires to buy. I went to BJ's and found Michelin XW4 to be $95. installed. This is $20.00 better than Sears.  But that's a lot of money for 5 tires for on a car that I might drive 3000 miles a year. They will dry rot before I show any wear. There are a lot of tires that are $60. to $70. that I think will do. BJ's also has B.F.Goodrich and Uniroyal all for a lot less, I can save $120.00 by going this way. I don't care for Uniroyal much, but would like to know if anyone has the Goodrich's, and how do you like them? Any other input would be good also. Montgomery Wards had General's on sale for $50.00 too. I plan to use P235/70R15, is this good?

Replies:

From Lawrence:

just a few thoughts about tires- off-brand tires are made (for the most part) by name brand manufacturers- look at the side wall - there is a set of numbers and letters on all tires that are indicators of quality and service life- traction, wear index #(the higher the better) load range, temperature. 70 series tires are shorter than 75 series tires for the same given width (aspect ratio) look on your drivers door post- there should be a sticker which indicates the proper size of the original tires- your tire dealer will have a chart- which converts the "68 size to modern size. if you use a tire taller or shorter than stock it may upset your speedo calibration. Finally- if you drive your car infrequently you may wish to invest in a set of tire covers to protect your tires from the ravages of solar radiation and UV rays.

From Gregg:

I'd just like to offer my two cents, if I may... I use that size, too. I use them on my 78 Thunderbird and if I buy a Chrysler product I will use them on that, too. My first set of 235/70/15's were Goodrich, but Goodrich doesn't make that size in a whitewall anymore. Luckily, I found out that Pep Boys has them in stock for about 50 Bucks, same price as the others that you mentioned. Now, I use 70 series tires because my car came with them from the factory. When I bought the car, it had an original Hr70-15 Goodyear custom Steelguard in the trunk. However, my car also came with 6.5" rims. Many Chrysler Co products came with skinny 5.5" rims. What is the width of the rims on a 68 Imperial? An inch or a half inch makes a lot of difference. I think you would need at least 6" rims for a 70 series tire. Otherwise the tires will wear funny. Also, the 50 dollar tires will dry-rot faster that Michelins. Michelins are a great tire. But they're not necessarily worth $105 a tire!! The biggest draw for me for buying the Michelin XW4's is that they have a narrow band white wall like the tires of the late 60's and early seventies. My Goodyear was a narrow whitewall. A narrow band whitewall might make the car look more authentic. I'm not that dedicated to authenticity, so my cars will have common white stripe tires. BTW, I think modern tires dry-rot much faster than they used to. I have a 1976 Uniroyal that is still usable, but my new tires only last three years or so before the rubber starts separating. More planned obsolescence?

From Dick:

I think the extra money for the Michelins is well worth it! That is exactly what I have on my 68, and after 12 years they are still perfect in all respects, no sign of age cracking, smooth and quiet. The 235R70's are going to look rather low and wide on that car, I think 235R75's are a better choice (almost an inch taller, same width).

From Elijah:

I'll second Dick on this one -- even if you don't go with the Michelin's, do get 235 R75s. And you really WILL be amazed at the difference the Michelins will make. When I first got my '71, we put a new set of Goodyear Tiempos on the car -- and I can't tell you what a huge mistake that was. Even aside from the fact that the weight of the car ate off the tread within 15,000 miles (on a 50,000 mile tire), these tires gave the car terrible handling.

The set of Michelin's I have now has gone over five years and 60,000 miles, and are still in terrific condition. But the best part is the improvement in drivability -- truly an Imperial ride, and, in my mind, well worth the extra expense.

From Mark:

I agree, Dick. The thinking in tires has changed since 1968. In '68, the look was "tall and narrow" (relatively narrow). The R75s seem better for the '68.

I also try to find a tire that has a distinct "shoulder" to it - don't know if that's the right term. If you cut it in half, it has a sharper "edges" on it - a flat top with a pronounced drop-off toward the sidewalls. This, to me, approximates the look of the bias-belted tires that came with the car and keep it looking "correct." Modern radials are far more rounded in appearance, with lower sidewalls and don't always look right on older cars.

I also agree with you, tires are one place not to skimp. Even if you only put low mileage on your cars, they're worth it for the peace of mind.

But I would still feel okay recommending the Arizonians, though I'm sure they're probably not as good as Michelins.


Tip from Dave (1971 and 1973):

I have always run all-season radials on my Imperials, both the '71 and the '73. It was the '71, with it's supernatural handling, that lead me on my quest not for the perfect tire, but for the tire that would stay together! I loved the way the '71 would power through hairpin turns, part large bodies of water, and surge across even the roughest road surface. I didn't like the way tires literally collapsed under the car. I believe I went through two sets of better brand tires in under a year. Just as I was despairing that there was no new tire that was up to Imperial standards, a salesman at Gateway Tires told me to always buy extra-load tires with steel belts. He recommended a brand called Multi-Mile, model Grand Am Radial STE. I bought a set, and they held up under the '71, and even saw second life on my '73. This summer, I bought a new set of the same tires for the '73. The ride is fine. In fact, I have had passengers comment on the Imperial's smooth ride. My only complaint about these tires, for both installations, is that wet weather traction seems lacking. Another excellent tire, although much more expensive (double, I think), is the Michelin XH4. These have served well under a 1976 Chrysler Newport Custom, 1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham, and a 1972 Chrysler Town & Country. My only complaint about them is the busy sidewall design, and the price.

The MultiMile tires from Gateway cost $61 each - which includes a nice warranty and (for me) an open garage where I can oversee the installation. Even so, I took the wheel covers and fender-skirts OFF before going to the tire store.


Question from David (1981-1983):

What type of tire are other '81 owners using??

Reply from Neal:

Last summer I put Firestone 721 tires on my Cordoba, which is the same body and stance as the Imperial. I got them in the 225/75R15 size and they have a nice 1-3/8" wide whitewall. I wanted a larger size that the existing 215/70R15 to better fill up the wheel opening. There was a marked improvement in the ride and I've never experienced any rubbing or clearance problems.


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