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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,


I've come to the point where I want to fit some nice new tires to my '85 Spider Graduate. When I was on holiday in Italy last year driving in wet weather the car started feeling a bit iffy: no wonder with tires dating from 05/05. I read quite some topics here on the forum with a lot of useful advice (although the debate of classic vs. modern tires doesn't seem to converge into consensus). However, I do have a couple of questions that I didn’t seem to find the answer for in those topics. Note: I’ve got the steel 14” rims and currently 185/70R14 tires.
I am kind of leaning towards going for a classic tire, because I can imagine that the handling would indeed improve. However, something that I didn’t seem to find is how the modern and classic tire compare in terms of braking in a straight line (imagine doing an emergency brake on the motorway on holiday). I would imagine that the modern tire has a wider contact patch (because it is more “square”)? Does the modern tire have a benefit here?

Going for a classic tire leaves me the choice for either the 165R14 (Michelin XAS and Pirelli CA67) of the wider 185/70R14 (Pirelli CN36). I think I can follow the idea that the narrower tire would be more fun to drive. But I imagine that the wider tire would have a benefit in straight line emergency braking? So would the best compromise between handling and safety be to buy the classic tire in the modern size? It would also match the size that Alfa put on originally for cars of this period.

Then on the subject of tubes vs. tubeless. Are there any downsides to chose a tire that requires tubes (apart from having the additional cost of the tubes)?

For the Pirelli’s it is not clear to me whether to do or don’t require fitting tubes. A well known tire website lists the following information for CA67:
RECOMMENDED TUBES Michelin 14D13
TUBE OR TUBELESS TL (Tubeless)
Describing it as a tubeless tire and at the same time recommending a tube seems contradictory. Does anybody know whether the CN36 or CA67 require tubes?

Kind regards,

Niels
 

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Both of these tires are tubeless radials. They only offer tubes for people fitting them to wheels that require tubes. You've got tubeless wheels (that presumably hold air well?) - you want tubeless tires.

I can only comment on the CN36. When I put them on my car they absolutely transformed the car. The difference over the modern "performance all season" tire they replaced was just amazing with improvements all around: WAY more grip, much better cornering balance and WAY less steering effort at parking speeds. They may be a classic reproduction but Pirelli uses a super soft and sticky modern rubber compound. They don't really say but subjectively it's like an autocross compound: so soft you can deform the blocks with your fingers. It's the shape that improves the balance and steering effort. When the rear-end lets go during hard cornering with a square-shouldered tire it let's go suddenly and pitches you into a lurid slide. The round-shouldered tire lets go much more progressively and controllably. I won't pretend to understand why the tires have so much cornering grip but much easier steering at parking speeds but they do. I can't recommend them enough. I went for the stock size 185/70-14.

Now, in 14" sizes that are at least "close enough" you're only going to find three types of tires: classic reproductions, rock-hard high-mileage all-seasons and a full autocross tire. A square-shouldered tire will put slightly more rubber in contact with the road in a straight line but the rubber compound is a more important attribute. As I said the CN36s have tons of grip and I guarantee they'll easily out brake any of the all seasons - even a wider one (say 195/60-17). The autocross tire? One would certainly hope that that tire would out brake the CN36, but I bet it wouldn't be by a lot. The CN36 would probably have the edge on a wet road compared to the autocross tire. In extremely wet conditions a modern all-season will certainly move water better than the classic tire which would give it an advantage against aquaplaning. But as long as the CN36 stays in contact with the road the soft compound will give it a big advantage over an all season with a 700 tread wear rating and a 75,000 mile treadwear warranty.
 

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As a new convert to CN36's (185/70/14) I cant recommend them highly enough, they don't need tubes and after a pretty fast cross country drive the other day i can say they hold on really well against moderns, even on tight hairpins there was little squealing, although the LSD will help with that. I had good moderns on mine for six years before I decided on the CN36's and they have changed the feel of my spider, its much more progressive and the steering is sublime, turning at parking speeds is much improved as well. Yes they are twice as much as a set of moderns but does anyone really begrudge spending 300 quid on their spider especially as it brings more joy to driving. I'm speaking from personal experience not hearsay and conjecture but whatever you decide try not to go above 185/70/14 and if anyone starts on about safety, please bear in mind you are driving a car that was designed in the 60's with little thought put into driver safety but a lot put into driver enjoyment, the best thing you can do when driving an old car is attend a advanced driving course, where you'll learn about anticipation and defensive driving, much more useful than all the driver aids in the world
 

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Personally, I don’t believe in bothering with a “vintage” tire install on a 20-50 year old car.
Most of the tires can’t be identified from 10 feet away and unless you’re shooting for pebble beach, I would feel opting for safely and technological improvement is a better bet.
Don’t get me wrong, when tires make the car like cokers, redlines, polyglass ovals, whitewalls etc. then go for it.
I think you would be much better served with a modern tire for the sake of safety over looks. Just my opinion and you know how opinions go!!
Anyway, I’m not a fan of tubes in car tires if avoidable. Regards Richy
 

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Your 1985 was not made with 165 tires; they were already obsolete. Even the CN36 is an early 70s tire that was out of production by then. The CN36 does have a rounded profile that seems to work better with the soft suspensions and body lean that our cars were born with. The relatively narrow foot print will lighten the steering effort.

With regards to technological evolution, both Pirelli and Michelin vintage tires are made with modern compounds and will perform better than a CN36 or XAS would have back in the day.

Since you are in Europe, I cannot comment the current availability of current 185/70 tires on your side of the pond; it's likely to be very different from what we have in North America were the size has been discontinued by most major tire brands.

Tubeless tires offer mostly advantages over tube type tires -less hassle during installation, less material to rub together and build up heat. It's only if you have a really old car that yo may have rims that were not designed for tubeless tires. Tubeless rims have an extra hump to retain a flat tire from falling off. It is dangerous to use tires without tubes on older flat bottom rims. By 1985, tube type rims were gone for decades.

I just made a quick search on a French website and this popped up: Vredestein Sportrac 185/70. This is what you need... a modern Dutch sports tire. Vredestein has made some very interesting sporty tires over the years but has become unavailable here.
 

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A tire with tubes would be wildly inappropriate for a car from 1985. A tire with tubes had already been obsolete for decades by the time your car was made. Even the historic tires mentioned here are really more of a 1960s look.
 

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I imagine that the wider tire would have a benefit in straight line emergency braking?
I don't think that a wider tire would stop any quicker than a narrow one, all other things being equal. A tire made with a softer/stickier compound would stop quicker (and wear out faster).

Keep in mind that a tire's grip against the road is determined by its contact area, the weight of the car, and the coefficient of friction. The contact area is going to divide out in that equation - the bigger the contact area, the lower the pressure (measured in force/area).

Does anybody know whether the CN36 or CA67 require tubes?
They do not require tubes. I have run them tubeless with no difficulties.
 

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Keep in mind that a tire's grip against the road is determined by its contact area, the weight of the car, and the coefficient of friction. The contact area is going to divide out in that equation - the bigger the contact area, the lower the pressure (measured in force/area).
That is a good theory but it is definitely not my experience with cars, motorcycles or bicycles. Go to a vintage race and look at thee tires that they are running, hence fender flares, etc. Ever see a dragster with skinny tires?
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thanks all for the useful information! About the Michelin XAS, are those also tubeless?

I can only comment on the CN36. When I put them on my car they absolutely transformed the car. The difference over the modern "performance all season" tire they replaced was just amazing with improvements all around: WAY more grip, much better cornering balance and WAY less steering effort at parking speeds. They may be a classic reproduction but Pirelli uses a super soft and sticky modern rubber compound. They don't really say but subjectively it's like an autocross compound: so soft you can deform the blocks with your fingers. It's the shape that improves the balance and steering effort. When the rear-end lets go during hard cornering with a square-shouldered tire it let's go suddenly and pitches you into a lurid slide. The round-shouldered tire lets go much more progressively and controllably. I won't pretend to understand why the tires have so much cornering grip but much easier steering at parking speeds but they do. I can't recommend them enough. I went for the stock size 185/70-14.
As a new convert to CN36's (185/70/14) I cant recommend them highly enough, they don't need tubes and after a pretty fast cross country drive the other day i can say they hold on really well against moderns, even on tight hairpins there was little squealing, although the LSD will help with that. I had good moderns on mine for six years before I decided on the CN36's and they have changed the feel of my spider, its much more progressive and the steering is sublime, turning at parking speeds is much improved as well. Yes they are twice as much as a set of moderns but does anyone really begrudge spending 300 quid on their spider especially as it brings more joy to driving.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I think the comparison of modern/classic explained in terms of actual user experience is exactly the right kind of info for anyone who's considering tire options.

I'm speaking from personal experience not hearsay and conjecture but whatever you decide try not to go above 185/70/14 and if anyone starts on about safety, please bear in mind you are driving a car that was designed in the 60's with little thought put into driver safety but a lot put into driver enjoyment, the best thing you can do when driving an old car is attend a advanced driving course, where you'll learn about anticipation and defensive driving, much more useful than all the driver aids in the world
I was certainly not looking for anything wider than the standard 185/70/14. And when I was talking about safety, what I meant is relative safety;)
Such driving course is indeed on my todo list, sounds like really educational and fun .

Your 1985 was not made with 165 tires; they were already obsolete. Even the CN36 is an early 70s tire that was out of production by then. The CN36 does have a rounded profile that seems to work better with the soft suspensions and body lean that our cars were born with. The relatively narrow foot print will lighten the steering effort.
You're right about Alfa fitting modern tires on the S3 Spiders. Though what I sensed from the topics on this forum is that the suspension setup was not changed compared to the earlier Spiders fitted with classic tyres. So the benefits you mention (better handling and lighter steering effort) got me into the classic tires.

Since you are in Europe, I cannot comment the current availability of current 185/70 tires on your side of the pond; it's likely to be very different from what we have in North America were the size has been discontinued by most major tire brands.
Here in Europe (at least in the Netherlands) availability of summer tires in 185/70R14 is not a problem. To mention a few available options:
Continental EcoContact 5
Continental PremiumContact 5
Michelin Energy Saver Plus
Vredestein Sportrac 5
Bridgestone Turanza T005
Pirelli P4
GoodYear EfficientGrip Compact
From what I read on the forum is that the Vredestein and the Michelin are good options in case you don't want to go for a classic tire.

Wider tires also have a thermal management benefit in a road racing context. More rubber means more mass to absorb heat.
For me personally road racing isn't on the todo list for the Spider;)
Its main purpose for me is to drive it in the weekends and take it on summer holiday (last year I put on ~4500km on my trip to Italy). So my main concerns are handling and safety. By the way I'm also not so interested in originality/esthetics, because the rest of the car is also not concours worthy.
 

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The Spider S3 suspension is essentially unchanged from the previous versions but the car is heavier, due to the addition of trim and equipment. You should not go with a smaller than original tire size.

I've looked at a few of the tires you have listed, and there seems to be a tendency for them to have a more rounded shoulder than the contemporary tires offered here. So it is likely that many of them would be satisfactory. From what we know of their manufacturers, Michelin will offer you a long lasting tire with a smooth ride while the Vredestein will not last anywhere near a long but a sportier but stiffer ride. The one on your list that I find interesting is the Bridgestone T005. It is only available here in ultra low, very high perfomance sizes.

The XAS has always been a tube type tire. There is one exception that is an oddity: they are now offering it as a 185/70HR14, which never existed back then. That one is tubeless. They had originally introduced 70 profiles in a slightly different tread style, the XVS.
 

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I have Vredestein tires on my Alfas and like the performance they provide! And the cost can be much less than the 'classic' style tire....
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The XAS has always been a tube type tire. There is one exception that is an oddity: they are now offering it as a 185/70HR14, which never existed back then. That one is tubeless. They had originally introduced 70 profiles in a slightly different tread style, the XVS.
OK, that's the XAS out of the equation then.

I can only comment on the CN36. When I put them on my car they absolutely transformed the car.
As a new convert to CN36's (185/70/14) I cant recommend them highly enough, they don't need tubes and after a pretty fast cross country drive the other day i can say they hold on really well against moderns, even on tight hairpins there was little squealing, although the LSD will help with that. I had good moderns on mine for six years before I decided on the CN36's and they have changed the feel of my spider, its much more progressive and the steering is sublime, turning at parking speeds is much improved as well.
What tires did you two have before the CN36?
 

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I'll have to look in my notes and see if I have the model. They were Falkens, some sort of performance all season that is no longer available. 195/60-14. I think they had something like a 400 tread wear rating. It was the most high performance tire I could find at the time (2012 or so).
 

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I run 185/70-14 Michelin on my 73 Berlina and 87 spider, and they are very good and balanced- dry or wet.
 

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Michelin Pilot Sport A/S for performance and varied conditions. Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2 or Sport PS3 for a summer tire. IMO
Hi all,


I've come to the point where I want to fit some nice new tires to my '85 Spider Graduate. When I was on holiday in Italy last year driving in wet weather the car started feeling a bit iffy: no wonder with tires dating from 05/05. I read quite some topics here on the forum with a lot of useful advice (although the debate of classic vs. modern tires doesn't seem to converge into consensus). However, I do have a couple of questions that I didn’t seem to find the answer for in those topics. Note: I’ve got the steel 14” rims and currently 185/70R14 tires.
I am kind of leaning towards going for a classic tire, because I can imagine that the handling would indeed improve. However, something that I didn’t seem to find is how the modern and classic tire compare in terms of braking in a straight line (imagine doing an emergency brake on the motorway on holiday). I would imagine that the modern tire has a wider contact patch (because it is more “square”)? Does the modern tire have a benefit here?

Going for a classic tire leaves me the choice for either the 165R14 (Michelin XAS and Pirelli CA67) of the wider 185/70R14 (Pirelli CN36). I think I can follow the idea that the narrower tire would be more fun to drive. But I imagine that the wider tire would have a benefit in straight line emergency braking? So would the best compromise between handling and safety be to buy the classic tire in the modern size? It would also match the size that Alfa put on originally for cars of this period.

Then on the subject of tubes vs. tubeless. Are there any downsides to chose a tire that requires tubes (apart from having the additional cost of the tubes)?

For the Pirelli’s it is not clear to me whether to do or don’t require fitting tubes. A well known tire website lists the following information for CA67:
RECOMMENDED TUBES Michelin 14D13
TUBE OR TUBELESS TL (Tubeless)
Describing it as a tubeless tire and at the same time recommending a tube seems contradictory. Does anybody know whether the CN36 or CA67 require tubes?

Kind regards,

Niels
 
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