Radial Whitewall Tires

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Trisha Martin Turner cruises around with her 1962 Mercury Comet on a great looking set up. Suretrac Power Touring 175/75R14 86S tires with a 0.8 Inch Whitewall and chrome reverse rims. The perfect size for smaller cars like this one.
Rich Roberts good looking 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe was built in the lats 1960s and looks sharp and sits right with this set up. The tires are Coker Classic 165/75R15 with a 2 1/4 Inch Whitewall, The rear are Coker Classic 235/75R15 with a 3 1/8 Inch Whitewall.

Kustomrama Tire Buyer's Guide | Whitewall Tires

There are a huge variety of tires, and the always constant debate whether to drive your classic hot rod, custom, lowrider, or stock car on bias-ply or radial tires. There is no right or wrong here; it is, of course, all up to the owner. Some people prefer the radial tires as they handle better, and some would not use anything but bias ply, as that was what their car was originally equipped with, and it gives a traditional 1930s to 1960s custom a period-correct look. The purpose of this page is to simply provide you with some ideas and options for radial tires that has a whitewall and a fairly similar look to the bias-ply tires and would make for a great option.

There are many brands and many different sizes available both when it comes to the width of the tire and the whitewall. Let’s roll.

What are Radial Tires?

Radial tires are manufactured very differently from bias-ply tires. The ply cords run at a 90-degree angle in relation to the bead. This makes for a more flexible design and conforms very well to the road surface. It makes for a pleasant and comfortable ride without the “wandering sensation” the bias-ply tires have. The radial tires also have a wider tread. As a matter of fact, if you use a radial tire with the equivalent size of a bias-ply tire, you will have more than one inch wider tread surface. Obviously, with modern technique and development, a radial tire is in many aspects a better tire than a bias ply. But it just doesn’t have that vintage appearance.

What are Bias-Ply Tires?

On the other hand, bias-ply tires are named so in reference to the tire's internal construction. The tire is easily identifiable with its sidewall bulge due to how the tire is built. The cords run at a 45-degree angle from bead to bead in a diagonal pattern, crossed with each layer of ply cord. This creates a very rigid structure. It has a narrow tread profile and a sharp shoulder, usually with a piecrust look. They are high and narrow and fill out the wheel wells good. Due to the way they are built with rigid construction, they have some unique handling characteristics. As they do not conform to the road as well as a radial tire, they sort of wander over the road. It is not hazardous but definitely requires the driver to pay more attention to driving.

Can You Have the Best of Both Worlds?

Up until recently, you either had a bias-ply tire or a radial tire. There was no gray zone. But now available on the market is actually a hybrid. The best of both worlds, if you will. Coker Tire is one of a few manufacturers selling what they call a bias-looking radial tire. A tire that in 2013 won them an award at the SEMA Show for Best New Product. It is exactly what it sounds like. They are manufacturing a new tire with the looks of a vintage bias-ply tire, but it has the internal construction of a radial tire. There are many sizes available, from 13 to 15 inches in diameter, and different sizes of whitewalls. Lucas and Diamond Back Classic are a few more popular brand choices for the delicate tire aficionado.

Many of the big manufacturers also carry a line of vintage tires in various dimensions and designs to supply all demands on the market. Bias-ply tires with or without a white wall, Redline tires, dual red stripes, Blue streak, Gold line tires, Polyglas tires. There is really nothing that can prevent anyone from building a period-perfect authentic car from any year or style these days, which is a necessity if you want a 100% era-perfect car. Tires are plentiful and available by many players on the scene.


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