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What size tire for my 1981 Spider with Turbina rims?

6617 Views 12 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Alfapwr
My recently purchased 1981 Spider Veloce came with 5 Campanatura 38, Campagnolo, Turbina 5.5"x14" rims. With these matched rims came an assortment of different makes and size tires. So the problem arose, "What size and make tire to run”?

Newer Spiders run the 15" rims, but I needed to stick with my 14" rims to save money. I have searched many threads on the bb regarding 14" tires for Spiders. The consensus is all over the place depending upon what kind of driving you intend on doing. Another point mentioned was the need to keep the same size tire all the way around. Don't mix sizes or widths. Alfa engineers knew what they were doing.

Forgive me if I have gotten it all wrong, but here are my conclusions:
P205/60R14 'H' or greater speed rating for track performance.
P195/65R14 H for performance driving on the street and track, but makes city driving harder in tight spaces.
P185/65R14 H for driving on the street with the occasional twisty road adventure.
P185/70R14 T for a stock look, higher road clearance, full wheel-well, easy steering, but with a loss in performance.

Speed Rating Code:
Q=100 MPH
S=112 MPH
T=118 MPH
U=124 MPH
H=130 MPH
V=149 MPH
Z=149+ MPH

Many people recommended P195/65R15 H Yokohama Avid H4s for the street and track. I tend to agree. From everything that I have read, including testimonials elsewhere, Yoko's are held in high regard! The problem with them is that they are not Italian. And neither are any of the other fine tires or manufacturers listed on the bb.

I told myself, "self", "at least try a set of Italian tires once. Make it a good set so you can judge for yourself".

Ok. That leaves only Pirelli and Michelin. The P195/60R14, 86H rated, Pilot Exalto A/S tires are awesome, but they are too low (60) in height. And the Michelin P185/65R14 85T, and P185/70R14 87T tires have too low a speed rating (T).

Maybe next time.

With this in mind and reading what has been posted on the bb, and some sage advice from Santos of Santo's Italian Car Service, I decided to locate and purchase a set of 5 Italian, P185/65R14 86H, Pirelli P6 Four season tires. I intended to drive 98% on the street, with an annual speed run at Willow Springs raceway. They had the right height and speed rating.

Ok. Now, who do I buy the tires from? An Internet search found that the 2 local tire stores near my house, America's Tire Co. (aka Discount Tire Co.), and Big-O tire co., sold Pirelli tires, but they did not list the P185/65R14 86H, P6 Four season tire!

I went to America's Tire Co. first. It was Friday and they did not know what it would cost, or if they could get them. Their computers did not show that tire. They said they would get back to me on Monday.

So, I went to Big-O and asked them. They had to make a special order using!
Big-O Tire Co.
Quantity 5, at $95 each, $15 mounting/balancing/RecycleOld each, Ca sales tax $46.75.
Total: $596.75

So, I went to myself and took a look:
Quantity 5, at $70 each, $15 mounting/balancing/RecycleOld each (Local Big-O and America's), Freight $52.86, no CA sales tax.
Total: $477.86
Quantity 5, at $60 each, $15 mounting/balancing/RecycleOld each (Local Big-O and America's), Freight $42.32, no CA sales tax.
Total: $417.32


Finally, Monday rolled around and I went back to America's Tire Co. However, I also asked if they could match my lowest Internet bid.

The Manager took a look at my number and took a shot. It was more than the Internet price, but it is my favorite tire store, and they will rotate and balance them for free for the life of the tires. I bought the tires from them:
America's Tire Co.
Quantity 5, at $70 each, with all the environmental stuff, mounting/balancing/RecycleOld etc..
Total: $499.36

Ok. So I paid $80 or so too much. But, I look at it this way, I saved $100 over Big-O, and these guys are local. Any problems and they will take good care of me. End of story.

These photos show 2 views of my Turbina Wheels with the old tires. The tall tire is a P185/70R14 and the other is a P185/65R14.


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It certainly looks like you've done your homework... Just one word of caution about Pirellis and track events. I had three sets of all-season Pirellis on my Spiders and none held up in spirited driving. I used to drive from Baltimore to Cincinnati and would purposely take back roads instead of the interstate. (Route 50 is filled with twisties and switchbacks, and downright dangerous in the winter time, but it is a spectacular road for a Spider, and the view is not too bad either...) After such drives, the Pirellis would develop the dreaded small bulge, which would first manifest itself as a faint wobble, but would eventually lead to a deformed tire needing replacement. Ditto on taking them to the autocross, where I would pump up the tires to avoid sidewall flex. (You would do the same on the track.) I don't know if it's fair to say that this would only happen with Pirellis, but I think it is fair to say that not all-season tires are necessarily designed for this type of driving.

Best regards,
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I have read this on other sites as well. I knew about it, bit my lip, and proceeded to buy them.

If I go to the track, by then, I should have a new set of racing tires and rims just for this purpose. If I can't swing it and buy the new set, I may chance it and run with the P6. If they bubble, then I will have learned first hand that stoves get hot. :)

Like I said in the post, I just want an Italian set of tires to begin with. After that I may switch to Michelin or Japanese.

I'll give a review on the bb once the tires start to reveal their true nature.

In the mean time, my soul will be happy with the P6 rubber rolling under the chassis. It's kind of childish, but what the heck. This is my new toy. I want to play with it. ;)
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If I go to the track,.. I should have a new set of racing tires and rims just for this purpose.
In the mean time, my soul will be happy with the P6 rubber rolling under the chassis. It's kind of childish, but what the heck. This is my new toy. I want to play with it. ;)
You should consider a little trailer for all your equipment. :)

And no, it's not childish... Why do you think I went through three sets? :rolleyes: If your long term update report is good, I'll re-consider my choice!

Land vehicle Vehicle Car Automotive exterior Classic car

Best regards,
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Now THAT is livin'!

Name of manufacturer and model trailer please. I love to dream and plan. Obviously, you are already living your dream.;)

Nice kit. Congratulations.
The trailer itself is nothing special... It's just a small (and inexpensive) utility trailer, four feet in length by 40 inches wide. They are available from several sources and a google search will bring these up. This particular one came from Harbor Freight, but I think there are better ones for comparable $$. These trailers don't typically come with any kind of platform, but you can fit a piece of plywood easily. I did spend a lot time figuring out how to best make everything fit, but I am very happy with how compactly the equipment fits, its weight, and most important, the weight distribution.

Finding someone to fit a custom hitch to a Spider is a challenge. Getting a custom track legal roll bar made is also hard, and both are anything but cheap. It's all worth every penny, but it does require some financial planning.

Best regards,
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Thanks for the information and advice. I'll post photos of the new tires next week once they're delivered and on the newly cleaned Turbina Rims.

The next project is to replace all of the brake rotors and pads with performance items. I'll show that project next.

Here is my Barn, er, garage, er, car port find. Notice the cool Lotus in the background in one of the photos. That one is not for sale.

I paid $1,000 for the car, and have a budget of $2,000 to get it running in a reliable and safe manner.


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They have arrived!

Hooray! My Pirelli’s arrived early!

They look great. I can’t wait to get them on the car.

I am waiting for new brake rotors, lines and pads, so I will have to wait a bit more until I can see them actually on the car. No need getting the car off the jackstands just for a gander at the new shoes!

A word of caution regarding Turbina, or any small 14” rims:

Watch the technician when they do the speed balance. The guy doing mine did not have the right spacer installed. He normally works with larger wheels and was confused.

I noticed a very slight wobble as the tires spun up on the machine. I asked the manager about the wobble. He noticed at once the need for a different spacer. He proceeded to redo all 5 wheels by himself with the proper spacer and they all spun up like jet turbine blades, smooth and steady.

So, watch the balance procedure! If I had not seen this, I might have destroyed a good set of rubber for lack of paying attention during the balancing.

Secondary caution. The same technician wanted to pound out the center cap on the wheel. That works fine on some Trubinas. But mine have a 'C' clip holding them in place. You need a special tool or be creative with fine point tools to remove the clip. The caps just fall out after the clip is removed. Easy, cheesy.

Tech Note: There is a great deal of controversy regarding our Magnesium or Magnesium Alloy Turbina wheels. Should we simply polish, anodize, paint or Krylon (spray-paint can) paint them?

After a great deal of reading, I’ve decided the Aircraft industry has it right. You paint them, but there is a very specific series of difficult steps and specialty ingredients required to do it right.

In the mean time, I found that if magnesium wheels were left untreated they are so porous that tires could actually go flat by air leaking through the metal!

To properly paint them would take a great deal of money. Money I don't have right now. So, in the mean time I thought, “It can’t hurt to spray paint them just for some protection until I can get them done right.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I painted the worst rim first (The spare tire rim has battery acid damage!) with some Rustoleum silver from a spray-can. That rim was so ugly and repulsive, I stopped the paint project. Good thing too, the tire shop had to put some stop leak stuff on the bead of the rim because of it. Thankfully, I only did the one rim.

In the mean time, my Turbina’s will have to be bare nekkid until I can get them properly sealed.

Here they are. The one in the rear has the silver paint job, yuck:


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Some excellent words of advice on your post, especially about watching the people working on Alfas and what they do (or do not) know about our Spiders!

I had two sets of Campagnolo Daytonas (the 5-stars) magnesium alloy wheels stripped by a shop that specializes in repairing and re-finishing wheels. Based on their advice, and wanting to get them re-done once and have it last forever :rolleyes:, I had them powder-coated. They did a fantastic job, and I was very pleased, particularly since these wheels are porous and they will rust and deteriorate. They will also be re-doing the set of Turbinas on my '74 Spider, and they say that they will be no trouble to powder coat.

Best regards,
Thanks Enrique,

So, its OK to Powder coat Turbinas. Great news.

The Color to paint them would be the next concern. Is there a paint chip sample or code from the factory on this?

My car will never be a show car, but it might be nice to get a close match.

BTW I weighed my rims. It is said that they are 13 pounds, but mine are closer to 15 (stripped, with no paint). Just a curious note.
Yes, it's OK to powder coat the Turbinas. They did tell me that the blasting that they use to strip the wheels (and the 5-stars are not that easy to strip) will smooth out a little of the roughness of the Turbinas, but they didn't expect it to damage it in any way. Then, they will apply the same color that I used on the 5-stars.

Speaking of color... This is a tough one, and a compromise unless, you decide to get the paint matched via computer... There isn't a code or an exact match off the shelf... What I did with the 5-star wheels was compare the color to what they had off the shelf. In so doing I noticed that the Campagnolo 5-stars fitted to the '82 - '85 Spiders were not as bright (or as silver in color) as the later FPS 5-star wheels that came on the Spiders starting in '86. (In order to preserve my original Campagnolo spare, I bought a new 5-star wheel, and this happens to be an FPS.) I really liked the FPS wheels better, but since I do show this car, I thought being correct was very important. The off the shelf color was not as bright as that of the FPS, but did look brighter than the Campys, which have more gray in them. Hence, I decided to give that color a try, and we did the set of track wheels in that color. After looking at the result, I decided that the color was just fine for the street wheels that are normally on the car. The Turbinas also have a certain amount of gray. My personal rule is that if the color is no darker than the OEM, and not chrome, it will look just fine, even at a show. (BTW, finishes will dull over time, so that is something to consider in a 30 year old wheel...)

A big key when showing a car is to make sure that the color shades look correct for the period and the specific car. The color doesn't have to be exact (no one is going around placing a palette next to the wheel), but the shade has to be close enough so that it looks correct. In fact, when a judge has looked at my OEM spare, he/she has never said that it is a different shade from the wheels on the car. If he/she were to put them side by side, he/she would notice that the wheels on the car are a little brighter than the original OEM spare, which has more gray in it.

I haven't weighed the Turbinas, just the original Campy 5-stars, which I think are the lightest of the group. Nonetheless, even at 15 lbs. it is a very light wheel - lighter than most performance aftermarket wheels! That's why I haven't gone to a different wheel, and would only do so if I were to fit much wider wheels, which I don't see why I would on a street application.

Best regards,
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The tire project is finished (Well, the center caps need to be installed, I just saw that).

Thanks for all the help.


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Funny, but I was told by a powder coater that since Magnesium is an "active" metal ( ie: it has oxygen in it which is why it burns ) that it could not be powder coated. The heating step of the process would cause the oxygen to be released and would tarnish and corrode under the finish.

Personally I love powder coating. The BWA's on my Duetto look great.

There is a guy I know named Steven Leth. He has a nice Giulia Super with turbinas. He restored them and they are fabulous looking. He should be at the France and Italy show coming up.

Good luck !

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