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Hi all, I have a 1978 spider currently outfitted with a set of 4 S4 15" rims, with 195/60R15 wheels. This was chosen by a previous owner who attempted to turn the car into an 80s/90s hybrid. As part of returning my car to her 70s beauty I got myself a set of turbina wheels for which I understand the original stock size was 165R14 and the recommended size to go with out there is 185/70R14 which I note from tiresize.com results in the same effective diameter and both retain the stock ride height (taking 165R14 to be 165/78R14 in current tire specification terminology). My understanding is in going with 185s down from 195s I will gain handling performance from the reduced width. Now I wonder if I might see any interesting improvements if I increase the ride height. I was playing around with a tire size calculator and noticed I could go with 185/75R14 or 185/80R14 and see a generous reduction of highway engine speed (3400 or 3300 down from 3500), has anyone gone with this size? What could I expect in terms of performance?

As far as brands I see 185/70R14 Goodyear Assurance, Yokohama Avid Touring-S, Michelin Defender T+H, are any of these good to go with? I note the taller sizes seem exotic and can't find anything beyond tires suggested for trucks... will keep looking.
 

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My understanding is in going with 185s down from 195s I will gain handling performance from the reduced width.
It will extend your braking distance and reduce the speed at which the tires lose grip when cornering. Given that most of the other cars on the road have wider tires and ABS I would be hesitant to go back to skinny tires.
 

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All things being equal the 195 tire will be harder to steer especially at low speeds than the 185. But should provide a bit more grip.

But 195 is getting a bit wide for the 5.5" turbina wheels. And they look like balloons and to my eye look too big for the Spider.



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Discussion Starter #5
It will extend your braking distance and reduce the speed at which the tires lose grip when cornering. Given that most of the other cars on the road have wider tires and ABS I would be hesitant to go back to skinny tires.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I did not know of these implications. I have found the braking power of the car to be excellent on the 195s - have you tried both this and 185s? I have no experience with any other tires on this car, so no idea how to gauge if the reduction is acceptable beyond trying and finding out. I can say my DD has 205 fronts and 225 rears (and is a much heavier modern sportscar), and I swear the Alfa brakes better any day.

Not many tires in the 185 75 14 size. I went with these. Not many miles on them but they seem fine.
I like the slightly lower RPM at a given MPH. My days of drifting around corners are behind me. ;)
A little easier on the steering wheel. Got a set from TireRack.

The other option I've looked at is discount tires with a few other options, the Tiger Paw tires appear to get marginally better reviews in terms of noise level. This is what I'm exploring if I end up with 185s.
 

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Not many tires in the 185 75 14 size. I went with these. Not many miles on them but they seem fine.
I like the slightly lower RPM at a given MPH. My days of drifting around corners are behind me. ;)
A little easier on the steering wheel. Got a set from TireRack.
Do you have any pictures of your car showing the ride height and look?
 

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Having problems loading pictures. Will try again later.
 

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The car is in the garage so no pictures from a distance.
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of the car as it sits.
 

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Thank you so much for posting those pictures! Your car is the color of my first Alfa, which brings back delightful memories (though I'm very happy with the sleek black + chrome look I have going on now). Personally I can't discern the 0.7" height increase so I can't imagine it would ruin the look in my view, which is OK by me as I'll be the one looking at her most (except for those occasions when my girl comes out to the garage to check if I'm alive). The tires seem to fit nicely in the wheel wells. I'll plan to go with that size. Your wheels are also beautiful - have you refinished or painted them? Mine are a bit trashed and I have been meaning to bring them to a rim shop for an estimate. Of course all this will need to wait a month or two, as today I came to terms with the fact I will be rebuilding the engine now - so if you happen upon an opportunity to take a picture outside the garage as it warms up, that would be much appreciated.
 

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There seems to be an eternal argument between grip and handling, in which I usually choose the latter. I bought an Alfetta GT that had gorgeous but super-wide phone-dial Ronals; with no power assist I could barely move the wheel at parking speed. Found a buyer for the Ronals, got a semi-scruffy but sound set of Turbinas for $125 and put original-equipment-size tires – Vredestein I think – and suddenly had a car that handled as it should and allowed me to park without hurting myself. I wish I could comment more fully on the results, but the car found a buyer, was given a thorough refitting at that expensive joint in Orange (I think) including a de-Californication, and was sent than relatively un-supervised pat of Colorado. I hear the angels sing whenever I tell the story …

Anyway, cars (especially Alfas) that were built to run skinny tires on modestly-proportioned wheels will always be happier, at least as road cars, with suitably modernized versions of their original equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Nashwill, would you then go a step further and put on the original 165R14 size? Or is this meant as advice regarding 195 vs. NHTSA recommended 185 width?
 

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That's exactly what I did do, on both my last Berlina and the Alfetta. The Alfetta's Ronals had 195s, and an 11" steering wheel; I could barely budge it when the car wasn't rolling! The Berlina's steering was heavy enough with the original-size tires; my wife refused to drive it! Parking one of those is already an upper-body workout.
 

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I'm glad that some of us are starting to recognize the value of going back to the way the cars were designed. I bought a 69 boat tail years ago that had really wide heavy wheels on them. The wheels were 3 piece HREs with Alfa logo on the cap. You can see them on my "avatar". I sold them to a guy that wanted them for an American car. I called to buy them back a few years later he still had them but he wanted a lot more for them then I sold them for. They would have been great for a S4 with power steering. Just one more thing that "I should have not sold". :cry:
 

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Pirelli CN36 in 185/70x14 would fit well in terms of looks, size, diameter and performance. Dougal sells them with free shipping.

 
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