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Hi, I'm new to this site and looking for suggestions on tires for a 1978 Spider. The stock size is 165/80R14, but I can't seem to find a manufacturer that supplies this size. I've got the original Cromodora wheels (14 x 5 1/2"). Does anyone know of a source, and /or is there an alternative size that would fit these wheels? Thanks!
 

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Normally, your size would ignore the "80" and list the size as 165R-14. An option beginning in 78 was the Pirelli Centurati CN36, 185/70R14. You should be able to find plenty of 165-14 tires, but my recommendation is the Pirelli CN36. They are not cheap tires, but the ride and handling are delightful. I enjoy dealing with Longstone Tyre in the UK when I'm buying Pirellis. Ask for Dougal
 

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Agree that Longstone is a great source for classic tires. They list Pirellis in both 165-14 and 185/70-14 sizes. The 165-14's are model CA67 and are priced at $181 each (at today's exchange rate). The 185/70's are model CN36, priced at $164. I would guess that the CN36's are a more modern design than the CA67's, but admittedly, I don't know this for sure.

See: 185/70 - 14 | 185/70 R 14

You can probably find Asian-made 185/70-14 tires for about half this price, but they won't look or feel correct on a vintage car.

Not that I'm recommending this option, but see: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tires.jsp?tireMake=Kumho&tireModel=Solus+TA11&partnum=87TR4TA11&vehicleSearch=false&fromCompare1=yes
 

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70 series tires appeared in the early 1970s, became the "hot" thing to have, and by the mid 80s 165r14 tires had virtually disappeared from the North American market. Since then, Alfa owners have been using 185/70R14 tires as the closest match available. They reduce the diameter by a hair, have a wider tread that is generally believed to put more rubber on the ground (actually the footprint is wider but shorter) and makes the steering heavier.

To maintain the original feel and looks, another vintage option is the Michelin XAS 165HR14, also available from Longstone and other classic tire sources, for similar prices unfortunately. The XAS or CN36 165HR14 were common original fitment on new Alfas in the early or mid 1970s.

Both this Michelin and the vintage Pirellis have a rounded shoulder, which I like to think is important for our Alfas which lean a lot when cornering. The vast majority of contemporary tires have a squarish shoulder. As the car leans into a corner and the wheel follows by tilting relative to the ground, the square shoulder will see a lot of pressure.

I just noticed the barely worn Pirelli P5s on my GTV are dated 2009. Time flies. Even though they have no visible degradation so far, I am shopping for a replacement. Since I am not ready to shell out over $1000 (I'm in Canada, everything ends up more expensive here), I've looked at other options.

There are still many 185/70R14 tires available, but most of them would be at home on a Ford Tempo. And then there are tons of cheap, Chinese off brands. I just rid my wife's Focus of a set of not-so-cheap Chinese brand tires that we could never get balanced (3 different shops tried). Put on a set of new tires from a major brand, vibrations gone.

I am considering a Momo tire, European design, available here in the US. I was able to read the DOT code on the sidewall on some of their ads. The factory they come from is a Hankook plant in Indonesia.

Another option would have been the Vredestein Sportrac 185/70HR14, probably the last real performance tire available in that size on this side of the ocean. But I can't find it anywhere in the US or Canada anymore.

Or I might bite the bullet and get a set of CN36 or XAS.

Oh, by the way, my Pirellis were made in China.
 

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As I slide forward in the last quarter of my years, I realize the preciousness of taking big bites out of life. Moderation is for monks. A vocation many fathers, mothers, and exes probably wish I’d undertaken.

If cheap, econo-box tires will cost you, for example, $400 for five of them, and an equal full house of CN36s around $1,000, and if you drive your Alfa 5,000 miles per year, then stepping up to the vastly more pleasurable CN36 will cost you about $.16 / day more over the life of the tires.

If you can’t rationalize a $.16/day expenditure, please explain how you ended up in an Alfa?
 

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Another option would have been the Vredestein Sportrac 185/70HR14, probably the last real performance tire available in that size on this side of the ocean. But I can't find it anywhere in the US or Canada anymore.
Lucas Tire offers a few Vredestein sizes and models, though not the Sportrac. They do have Sprint Classics in 185-14 that look vintage with the rounded shoulders (see picture below) but hey, anything looks vintage on a wire wheel with a knock-off! Lucas sells these for $174 ea. I'm guessing the Sprint Classics don't offer the same performance as the Sportrac's. See: https://www.lucasclassictires.com/185HR14-Vredestein-Sprint-Classic-5128685L.htm

My instinct would be to chose the Pirelli CN36's over these Vreds.


 

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Quattro used to sell Vredestein in Canada but it looks like they are phasing them out. They now list the 195 you bought at $168 ea. At this price I would rather import a vintage tire from Longstone.

Don, the driving season is short here. For the past ten years I ran my GTV about 2000 km per year. I used to drive an Alfa to work daily, but the combination of worsening traffic, SUV invasion, drivers who play with their cells, and the soaring value of GTVs has pushed me to leave the car home most of the time.
 

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Yves,


I do understand. Northern Nevada is cold. Even in Summer. But, we have little rain, and I won’t drive an Alfa in the snow, so I average about 1,000 mile per year in my 102. I’ve since added a 11502, and a 116 Sprint Veloce. I’ve shifted a lot of driving to them, so total Alfa mileage is maybe 2,500-3,000.

There’s a good chance the XAS is better in rain and snow than the Pirelli. But, if you’re likely to take out the GT only on sunny weekends, then the CN36 is a wonderful choice.
 

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Our original poster wanted tires for his 1978 Spider. Maybe he doesn't want to spend $650 for a set of new tires.

The major makers don't offer much in 185/70R14 anymore. I've seen more than one poster here say he was using the Michelin Defender on an Alfa with satisfying result. $118 at Tire Rack. Mmmm... not that much cheaper.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi, I'm new to this site and looking for suggestions on tires for a 1978 Spider. The stock size is 165/80R14, but I can't seem to find a manufacturer that supplies this size. I've got the original Cromodora wheels (14 x 5 1/2"). Does anyone know of a source, and /or is there an alternative size that would fit these wheels? Thanks!
 

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Oh, by the way, my Pirellis were made in China.
Pirelli CN36's are made in Turkey. Longstone will sell a set of 4 for $764 US with shipping which seems like a good price, and I am happy with the set on my car.

Longstone Tires CN36

Lucas tires in California also carries them.

Lucas Tires CN36

To get an idea of how these tires look on the car, the following GTV that sold on BAT was on 185/70x15 CN36's.

GTV with CN36

While the following GTV had the Michelin XAS in the original 165R14 size.

GTV with Michigan XAS

Both auctions have discussions about tire choice.
 

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Hey, here's a question about tires:

Zinhead's post above led me to explore Lucas Tires' site. Lucas sells Pirelli Cinturatos in both 185/70-14 and 165-14 sizes. The 185/70's cost $159/ea while the 165-14's are $26 more at $185/ea. Lucas recommends the 165-14's; here's how they put it:

It is worth mentioning that many people think a fatter more modern tire will improve the handling of classic cars like the Alfa Spider, but if this was the case Alfa themselves would have fitted them. The option was there to fit a 185/70R14 to their Spider from 1968. However because the Spider handled best fitted with a 165HR14 Cinturato CA67 that it's what Alfa Romeo chose to fit.

Here's the link to that page: https://www.lucasclassictires.com/Alfa-Romeo-Spider-Tires_c220.htm

So what do you guys think? Would you pay an additional $102 a set for the narrower CA67 Cinturato's over the CN36's?

Longstone also sells Pirelli Cinturatos in both sizes, with the 165-14's again being a bit more expensive. Interestingly, Longstone's prices are lower than Lucas', even if I pick up the tires from Lucas in Long Beach. The exchange rate is favorable right now!
 

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Interesting question. 70 series tires did not exist in 1968. I will search my R&T archives later tonight.

Alfa first used 70 series tires on the Montreal (the Michelin V-rated XWX, a $100 tire back then), and on the Alfetta GT in 1974. They went to 70 series on the Alfetta sedan and Spider in the late 1970s as the 70 series trend pushed 80 series tires (actually 82) out of production. The last 165R14 tire available in North America was the Pirelli P3, a fairly mundane tire, up to some point in the 80s.

I've been in this long enough to have driven GTVs on their original Michelin XAs. By 1980, the XAs was NLA. Michelin had introduced the similar XVS as a 70 series, and most of us followed the wider tire trend. The ultra low profile Pirelli P7 which appeared on the 930 Turbo in the late 70s started the trend of increased rim diameter and yet lower profiles. This lead us to where we are now.

Around 2010, I drove a friend's very original GTV that was still fitted by then with 165R14 Pirelli P3s, soon to be petrified. Driving this car gave a feeling of lightness and agility that I had lost with the wider tires that I was using on mine.

So us 105 enthusiasts branch off somewhere. Those who want a car that looks and feels original should opt for a 165R14, or 185/70R14 if on a budget. Those who want a 50 years old car to compete with a modern one will want to use 15 inches rims and wider, lower profile tires. - Actually, having two sets of rims and tires could give you the feeling of driving two different cars for little money...

Jay, the CA67s will give you the real feeling of driving a 1960s car; the CA67 tread was original on a Giulia or 1750, but is historically wrong for a 2000. By then, the CN36 was available in 165R14. It seems this size is not reproduced. The Vredestein Sprint also has a tread design that is more appropriate on a 1960s car. The XAs was introduced by Michelin in the mid-1960s and was the benchmark European performance tire for a decade.

The worst tires I've had over the years on an Alfa were a set of Toyo Spectrums that were given to me by a new Spider owner. He believed the sun rose and set on Michelin, and took off the almost new Toyos that came with the car. I got them fitted and within a quarter mile after leaving the tire shop, I knew they were a mistake. I later found out the Spectrums had the reputation of having the mushiest sidewalls known to mankind. You would change lanes on the highway, and feel a lag in the way the rear end responded to the steering input. Since then, I have been very finicky when selecting tires for my cars.
 

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So what do you guys think? Would you pay an additional $102 a set for the narrower CA67 Cinturato's over the CN36's?
For a 77 Spider, I would go with the CN36's. The CA67 look best on 50's and 60's cars, while the CN36's fit more of the late 60's and 1970's cars.

Also, Longstone tends to get more turnover than Lucas, so you will probably get a fresher tire if you order from Dougal.
 

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For a 77 Spider, I would go with the CN36's. The CA67 look best on 50's and 60's cars, while the CN36's fit more of the late 60's and 1970's cars.
By "the CN36's fit more of the late 60's and 1970's cars" I think you mean they would look more period correct; not that they are the correct dimension. I am running 1969 5-1/2" wide X 14" dia. wheels so I assume that either size will fit dimension-wise. Since I have these wheels on a '66 Sprint (which came with 4-1/2 x 15" wheels), I'm not going to fool anyone that it is 100% period correct. I suppose the 165-14's would look more period correct, but I guess either size Cinturato would look and perform a lot better than something like a Toyo Spectrum!

Also, Longstone tends to get more turnover than Lucas, so you will probably get a fresher tire if you order from Dougal.
Hmm, interesting point. Guess I want the new tires to be as fresh as possible, since they will eventually die of old age, not wear.

yvesmontreal said:
Interesting question. 70 series tires did not exist in 1968.
Yves (and Zinhead): Thank you for the thoughtful replies.
 

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The original owner handbook in my 1977 11502 (late 76 production) mentions only the 165/14. The owners manual for a 1978 model lists the 165/14 as having been fitted to the steel wheels and the CN36 185/70-14 being fitted to alloy wheels.

Worldwide, Alfa had many variations within the same year. In the US, we got only the 2000 after 1971, with a single model name in any given year, although the name would change from year to year. Later, we had the Veloce, Graduate, and Quad overlapping years.

My gut says that originality would be as I described - 165-14 on steel, 185/70-14.

I'm driving on a new set of 185/70-14s, on my Turbinas, and it looks fine, and handles nicely. Very soft steering, although my 1965 Sprint GT on the 165-15s was very, very light in steering. Apples and hand grenades as a comparison.
 

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I wish somebody like Dougal would chime in and give us some customer feedback on the various options he has for our Alfas.

I just checked Coker's website ; they carry the XAs ($172); Vredestein ($127) and a newcomer 165R14, Dunlop Classic, for yet a few dollars more ($178). I can't figure out if they offer free shipping, but they do link Michelin's seasonal rebates to their site, which would be a surprise for vintage tires.

As much as it doesn't make sense to save a few bucks and cheat on inappropriate tires when you've spent thousands to restore a valuable GTV (or 102 Spider!); I'm sure there are Alfa owners who need a more affordable option than the repro tires.

These days I spend lunchtime alone in my office, so I have time to waste. I made an inventory of the 185/70R14 tires available from the major tire makers on the US market.
Bridgestone, Firestone, Pirelli, Nokian, Sumitomo and BF Goodrich do no have this size anymore. It is going away, along with the 2001-2005 Civics which last used them.
Here we go:
  • Michelin Defender (H rated)
  • Uniroyal Tiger Paw AS65
  • General Altimax RT43
  • Goodyear Assurance
  • Cooper Evolution Tour
  • Yokohama Avid S
  • Toyo Extensa and Eclipse
  • Hankook Kinergy ST
  • Kumho Solus TA11
  • Falken Sincera
The rest... with the Kumhos at $250 a set, I wouldn't risk going with any of the weird brands that currently flood the market. Yes, Walmart will sell you tires for less than $40. You can also trade your Alfa on a Tercel.

These are all "touring" tires, marketed for their smooth ride, long durability, fuel savings (yaaaaawn). The best we have to help us choose one of them is... comments by Alfa owners on this board. I've seen the Defender quoted positively a few times, but at over $110, it is almost in the same range as the vintage tires discussed above. I remember seeing one positive comment each on the Avid S and Altimax, the other ones.. you're on your own.

Good luck. I just can't forget how a bad set of tires made my Alfa feel mushy.
 
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