Sticky #7: Tires for OEM 15 inch wheels

BFG Radial TA's are a popular alternative. Decent grip, they have the stock white letter look and they are pretty cheep. They come in a lot of sizes and are pretty popluar with the vintage car guys. Just don't track them...they don't have a very high speed rating.

Also, you can fit bigger then a 215 on the rear 8inch.
BFG does look pretty good. I like the white letters as they closely resemble the Arrivas which I find attractive on the Pantera. Just got my car and they have 295/50's on the rear. The side walls are sunken, and they look bad. What is the widest tire I can use on the 15" wheel and not have sunken sidewalls? They list 215, 225, 235, and so on. Don't know if they are REALLY available though.


Tires for the original 15" Campagnolo wheels can be sourced from "classic tire" suppliers or sourced from "contemporary tire" suppliers.

Re-issues of classic tires are "reproductions" in appearance and size, but they are constructed using modern rubber compounds and modern construction techniques. They "look" like the classic tire they are emulating in sidewall design and tread pattern, they are available in the right size for your car, but they are thoroughly modern in terms of performance.

Longstone Classic Tyres of Bawtry, South Yorkshire, England, is the only "supplier" of reproduction tires who has shown an interest in our classic Italian cars. Longstone's US distributor is Lucas Classic Tires of Long Beach, California. Classic tires of the proper size for some applications are available from Pirelli, Michelin, and Avon.

Longstone Classic Tyres

Lucas Classic Tires

Avon Tires are also available in the US via Frisby Performance Tire (Park City Illinois), Roger Krause Racing (Castro Valley California), SascoSports (Alton Virginia), or Sierra Tire (Henderson Nevada).

The availability of contemporary tires for 15” wheels has been dwindling over the last couple of decades; especially for tires having a speed rating of V (or higher). The options in selecting the same make and model tires in the front as you select for the rear are highly limited.

Here are two good internet sites for checking-out what's available amongst "contemporary" tires, they both allow you to search by size for "sets" of tires wherein the front tires and rear tires are a different size:


On Line


The purpose behind using 15 inch tires is of course to continue using the factory 15 inch wheels. So lets touch on care of magnesium wheels for a moment.

If your Pantera's magnesium wheels have never been serviced (most haven't) they should be serviced. The older the Pantera is, or the more miles it has on it, the more important this is:

  • The wheels should be visually inspected for curb-rash damage and damage from crimp-on balancing weights. If the wheels were holding air pressure and there is no visibly "severe" damage, its OK to proceed.
  • If one or more of the wheels aren't holding air pressure, or if you want to be more thorough, the wheels should be tested for cracks and porosity. But there are few places that can repair magnesium wheels, so unless you have such a place near you, you'll have to ship them somewhere for repair. Pantera Parts Connection of Reno Nevada can provide full service of the wheels, including repairing damage, cracking, and porosity.
  • At this point you must decide whether or not to remove the OEM paint finish prior to annealing the wheels. Magnesium wheels have a layer of zinc chromate below the primer and top coats of paint. This chromate conversion coating is not anti corrosion protection ... it provides a finish that primer paint can adhere to. If you remove this chromate coating it must be replaced. If you don't chromate the magnesium before painting you can guarantee that your beautiful paint finish will lift off some time in the future. If you choose to leave the OEM paint on the wheel then remove the decals, balance weights, adhesives, clean-off all dirt, brake dust, and grease. The paint shall turn brown in color during the annealing process. If you choose to remove the OEM paint then do so employing a gentle blasting process such as plastic beads, walnut shells, etc.
  • Anneal the wheels at 375°F for one full hour after being brought to that temperature, then cool the wheels as slowly as possible (i.e. turn the oven off, but leave the oven door closed, and let the oven slowly cool until it reaches room temperature).
  • if the wheels were annealed without removing the OEM paint then after annealing prepare the OEM painted surfaces to make the paint suitable as a "base coat" for the new paint, using caution to remove as little paint as possible and to avoid exposing bare metal. The best surface prep where bare metal has been exposed is Dow 1. You just wipe the Dow 1 on and leave it on for 3 minutes. The exposed Magnesium should at this point change to a rich brown or gold color. Then wash off the Dow 1 with clean tap water.
  • If the paint and primer were removed prior to annealing then clean the bare magnesium after annealing with Dow 19 and a Faber Castell fiber glass tipped pen (available from arts supply shops). These pens are for use in place of a scotch bright cleaning pad. The Dow 19 will also lightly chromate the surface as it cleans. You may see the surface turn slightly brown or gold. It is essential that you remove EVERY TRACE of corrosion before moving on to the final steps (prime and paint).
  • Instead of Dow 19 a fresh coat of  zinc-chromate primer can be applied, if you can find it. Some say zinc-phosphate can be employed as a substitute for  zinc-chromate, I have not verified this. When substituting zinc chromate it is important that the substitute shall provide a coating that primer paint can adhere to.
  • The final steps are to prime and paint the wheels. DO NOT SAND the chromate surface prior to painting. Wipe off finger print oil, etc. with a professional auto painters grade wax and grease remover. Then prime and seal with 2 part epoxy primer. Modern primers are most likely chromate free, but if you can find a primer with chromate in it so much the betterAltex AltraBond 3094 is a chromate free etching primer used and certified by the aerospace industry for priming magnesium parts.   


Tire Set 1 | 1971-1972 | 185/70VR15 + 215/70VR15 
Push Button, Pre-L, Early GTS, Early Group 3
Chassis number 1001 through 4268

This set is available in Michelin XWX re-issues. There is little demand for this size however.

Most owners of the earliest Panteras opt for tires in the sizes of tire set 2 or tire set 3; which are by far the two most popular and therefore most common tire sets for narrow body Panteras.

Tire Set 2 | 1972½ -1977 | 205/60VR15 + 255/60VR15 
Pantera L, GTS, Group 3
Chassis number 4269 through 7554, and 9001 through 9099

This set is available in BF Goodrich Radial T/A (speed rated S).

205/60VR15 tires (V speed rating) were original equipment on 1987 - 1995 Acura Legends, various 1986 - 1994 Audis, 1995 - 1997 Honda Accords, and 1986 - 1991 Mazda RX-7s. Kumho and Pantera Tire currently manufacture 205/60VR15 tires. There are probably others I haven't found.

The 255/60R15 is also available in Pirelli CN12 re-issues (speed rated W). Alternatives to the 255/60R15 rear tires are tires sized 275/55R15. The Avon CR6ZZ "classic" street legal radial racing tire is available in this size.

Combining one of the 205/60VR15 front tires with the Pirelli Cinturato CN12 or the Avon CR6ZZ rear tire would result in a "mixed" set of tires speed rated V (higher than a set of Radial T/As).

Tire Set 3 | 1978-1984 | 225/50VR15 + 285/50VR15 
Late Model GTS, Late Model Group 3
Chassis number 9100 through 9374

The Front is available in Pirelli P7 re-issues and in Pirelli P-Zero System.


Dougal Cawley of Longstone Classic Tyres says "I am in talks with Pirelli about the 285/50R15 size tire, but it is not as yet set in production. It will take time. Please be patient." By taking time, he means "years".

The most common substitute tires for the 285/50VR15 tire are in the size of 295/50R15 (speed rated S). There are about 5 manufacturers supplying tires in this size: BF Goodrich, Cooper, Hankook, Milestar and Mastercraft. The Avon CR6ZZ "classic" street legal radial racing tire is also available in this size, but not in 225/50R15 for the front.

A great number of owners of 1971-1977 Panteras retro-fitted their Panteras with factory 10x15 rear wheels, and moved the 8x15 rear wheels to the front position, in order to accommodate the tires of set 3. Every 10x15 wheel that De Tomaso had stocked, at least a cargo container full of them, sold-out long ago. The 10x15 wheel remains popular even though the proper tire hasn't been available for years. When a used set of 10x15 wheels comes-up for sale, they sell quickly at top dollar prices. There are not one but two aftermarket companies manufacturing this wheel still today (Roin and Marvic). I know Pantera owners who have purchased second Panteras simply because the second Pantera was equipped with this size rear wheels. They removed the 10x15 wheels, replaced them with 8x15 wheels, and placed the second Pantera up for sale again. The point is that this is a very popular tire set amongst Pantera owners. There are a far greater number of Panteras set-up to use tires in the sizes of tire set 3 than production numbers would indicate.

Tire Set 4 | 1978-1990 | 285/40VR15 + 345/35VR15 
Wide Bodies: GT4, GT5, GT5-S
Chassis number 9100 through 9374, and 9375 through 9562

This set is available in Pirelli P7 re-issues.
The rear tire is also available in Pirelli P-Zero System

Tire Set 5 | 1990-1993 | 235/45ZR17 + 335/35ZR17 
Wide Body: Pantera Si
Chassis number 9601 through 9641

This tire set is available from 2 manufacturers, but it is not available in the same model tire for front and rear.

Michelin: Pilot Sport 4S front + Pilot Sport PS2 rear
Pirelli.: P-Zero Nero GT front + P-Zero System rear

Two Non OEM Options:

Historic: Back in the 1990s owners of "Pre-1978" Panteras (approximately 6,654 Panteras) wishing to upgrade to low profile tires could "Plus 1" or "Plus 3" the tires for their Pantera by choosing Pirelli P7s in in the sizes of 225/55VR15 on the front and 275/55VR15 on the rear. The 225/55VR15 front tire was optional equipment on the 1992 through 1997 BMW three series, the 275/55VR15 rear tire was standard equipment on the Bentley Turbo R, 1985 through 1992. This was a bitchen tire set for the Pantera while it lasted. These tires aren't available today, so I'm mentioning this tire set more as a bit of historic information rather than an option available to us today. If "high quality - speed rated - passenger car tires" should ever become available in these sizes again such a tire set would become my personal preference. But I'm not hopeful that shall ever happen.

Contemporary: This option IS available today. Purchase a pair of reproduction wheels from Roin Technology directly or via Mr.Fiat, but rather than 10x15 order 10x17 instead (I'd recommend 13mm positive offset). Mount 225/50ZR15 Pirelli P-Zero System tires on the OEM 7x15 front wheels, and mount 285/40ZR17 Pirelli P-Zero System tires on the new rear wheels. The fender openings are 2 inches different in diameter front to rear, and the tires are a bit more than 2 inches different in diameter front to rear. The 2 inch difference in wheel diameter emphasizes this difference, it is quite dramatic looking. The sidewalls of the rear tires are 1 inch shorter for better handling too. The tire set is contemporary rather than a re-issue, and the sizes are readily available. AND it looks factory original.


BFG T/As are rated at 106 mph and available in 215 and 255/60x15. I have used these tires on my GT6 and TR8. Perfectly good tires in just about any weather conditions one might want to drive a Pantera in. I guess if one wants to storm around at higher speeds, they can a) enjoy spending some insurance, ticket, and legal fee money Big Grin , and b) upgrade to larger everything thing to handle those speeds well north of 100mph !!!!
Merging threads

Originally posted by 22 Racer:
Recently purchased a 72 Pantera with the old Pirelli tires on the original 15" Campy's. Can't find a manufacture that makes a tire for both the front and rear. Help! Can anyone provide information for my dilemma? Thanks
BTW: the rears are not the 10" width.
I think they will be OK.

The things to be concerned about are total width and rolling diameter. Under 26" dia. seems to work best with minimal rubbing. There may be some other posts around here with size options and opinions, but that's the size I'd pick if you're using 10" rear and 8" fronts. For 7" fronts maybe the 215 or even 205 might be a better fit. It depends what you're running now and if any rubbing is occurring at full steering lock.

Good luck!
You're right about the sizes Bud but if you know of any manufacturer making BOTH front and rear tires in the optimum sizes, please share because I couldn't find anything but the odd loose tire on eBay. The 60 series fronts are a bit tall, but if you go with the narrower ones the height shrinks as well. The 205's are only 24.7" tall.

You need to be careful with the age of these tires. BFG's and Pirelli's start to crack through the outer treads somewhere around three years of age.

The BFG's in particular will throw chunks of tread out like the retreads used to, leaving you to look at just the fiber from the carcass.

The Pirelli's crack like this too between the tread blocks.

One of the memebers here in Europe bought a Pirelli tire like this, NOS, and it failed within 30 or 40 miles.

This considered, what is the point in looking for NOS tires that are more then a year old from manufacture regardless of whether or not they are used or not?

Try the Mickey Thompson LT rear tires. There are more then a few 225-vr50-15 tires still made.

You just are not going to find a matching set, front-back, in 15".

Even Hoosier no longer makes them.
Originally posted by 22 Racer:
Recently purchased a 72 Pantera with the old Pirelli tires on the original 15" Campy's. Can't find a manufacture that makes a tire for both the front and rear. Help! Can anyone provide information for my dilemma? Thanks
BTW: the rears are not the 10" width.

I have a new, never mounted, set of 295/50-15" Toyo Proxes ST's available. The pic shows what the identical set looked like on #5606 which I sold last year. My rears were 10" wide, but the tires fit fine on 8" wide rear wheels. These are used in conjunction with Toyo Proxes 4's on the front as they have a similar tread pattern. I wrapped them up when new and they have been stored properly.

They cost me $400 including shipping from the East Coast, so that is my asking price.

FYI-the manufacturing date was the 12th week of 2007.

I am located in the northern San Diego area.

I have 305/50/15 on th rear of my car ....BF Goodrich EURO TA's and boy they fit mighty fine on the rear 15 x 10 ... if they remade them I would be a happy man. I think I'm going to lean towards what Mickey Thompson has for drag radial when the time come to replace them.

These are the best fit now for the rear. Mickey Thompson 26-12-15. Built for an 8-10 inch rim.

The BFG 295-50-15 is also a good fit and easy to get. It only has an S rating though. You can get the bigger tire in, the 305 Euro T/A but they were discontinued a while ago.


Photos (1)
Still are. I had my RWL Dunlops installed white-lettering in and then used tire paint over the letters so you wouldn't see it from the "inside" (it looks odd to see white letters from the insides).

In case anyone is tempted, don't try to remove the white lettering because it's a layer of white rubber and you can easily wreck a tire cutting/sanding it off.

Technically you are correct. Those tires exist. At $787 each for the rears, there are better solutions.

That tire also requires a wider rim then a 10" AND is really too short (outside diameter) for the car. my opinion.

Use the Mickey Thompson in the rear. At $250 each, how can you go wrong?
... i guess for all the original muscle cars were going to have to ride on the rims when the 15's wear out ? Or drive competition tires on the street ... seems like there are more of a selection on comp tires ...where you would think there is less of a demand ?
The only issue for me at the moment is that I am not ready to put tires on it for the fall. Probably yes in the spring though.

I don't want to buy a set of tires now and have the clock ticking on the ageing of the rubber over the winter.

The other issue is that there is not a matching set front to back, which personally doesn't bother me, and the concern is that since the 15" are going the ways of the Dodo birds, the Michey Thompson may get discontinued also.

I'm not sure I want to run comp tires on the street. The rubber compounds are too sensative to temperature and as a result could be letheal until the warm up. How do you warm up a race tire when it is 20 degrees F?

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