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Tire Recommendations for an 80 TR7

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geoffreyk Avatar
geoffreyk Geoff Kearley
Conception Bay South, Topsail, Newfoundland, Canada   CAN
I am looking for tires for my 1980 TR7 convertible. The existing rubber has lots of tread but is old with a few weather cracks. It's time to replace the tires before the first flat. They are 175/70 13s which are not very common any more. These rub the inside of my front fenders ever so little if i strike a bump on a hard turn because the front end has been lowered.

Does anyone have a recommendation as to what brand and size tire I should consider? My budget is about $500 for 4 tires. The Michelin Defender [hopefully it is not called that because of what may happen to my fender if it rubs too hard!] is available at CostCo for $475 installed. It is not a performance tire but is good quality , good in the rain [i try to stay out of it], and is right within my budget.

Incidentally, does a suspension engineer have a comment on if I should jack the front back up 1 inch or so, or lower the rear to level the car? Sitting alongside an unmodified TR7 I can see that my front fender lip is 3 inches closer to the tire. My car also has a very clear-cut "OK that's enough!" point where the back end breaks away on a hard turn and i am wondering if that has to do with the lowered front end?

Tired of old tires,
Geoff

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TR8todd Avatar
TR8todd Todd Kishbach
Mass, USA   USA
1977 Triumph TR7 "Rally Fraud"
1978 Triumph TR8
1979 Triumph TR7
1980 Triumph TR8    & more
Stock tire size on a 1980 was 185/70/13. The real early TR7s had 175/70/13. They should be somewhat common. Many people plus size and go to 205/60/13, but those are getting harder to find. Your options are going to be limited to basic all season tires or very performance almost race tires. I've heard some good things about the Federal tires in those sizes, but that is about all I can offer. Most of the good performance tire manufacturers have abandoned 13" rubber. That is the big reason why you see so many wedges running around on 15X7 wheels with 205/50/15 tires. It's about the only way to get a good performance tire that will work on these cars.

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geoffreyk Avatar
geoffreyk Geoff Kearley
Conception Bay South, Topsail, Newfoundland, Canada   CAN
Thanks Todd. I didn't check the mfr spec on the tires, i just went by what was currently installed, and i'll bet they are 10 years old. My car is mostly stock and mainly a road car. We have rough roads here in eastern Canada and I like a stronger tire wall than a 50. I will check out the Federals but i am still thinking about the Michelin Defender. I have a nice alloy wheel and don't want to change it just now.

Any comment on my lowered front end? Would you raise it up an inch? Would you lower the rear an inch? I have never bottomed out but I have raised my ass off the seat a few times when running over rough spots! The front tires just brush the fender during a hard upward motion on a turn. The car really feels stuck to the road until the back end comes around.
Geoff

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dhuddleson Avatar
dhuddleson David Huddleson
Manotick, ON, Canada   CAN
It is not easy to get the correct 185/70R13 tires to fit your car, but not impossible. You will keep your sidewall height to deal with those harsh bumps. As well as the large US suppliers like Tire Rack or Discount Tire, there is 1010tires.com which are in Canada (but on the other coast to you!). Or check other local quality Tire shops.

As for spring height, you may be better to get replacement front springs to get you back to the original height. When I was younger and too eager to have max performance, I had ultra-low TriumphTune springs on my TR8, and needed to drive on 2x8 boards to be able to get the floor jack under the car. Way too low! And speed bumps on roads? I had to diagonally straddle those or scrape oil pan, subframe and mufflers. But even the stock springs do settle over the years.

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TR8todd Avatar
TR8todd Todd Kishbach
Mass, USA   USA
1977 Triumph TR7 "Rally Fraud"
1978 Triumph TR8
1979 Triumph TR7
1980 Triumph TR8    & more
Without actually seeing your car and driving your car, any recommendation on how you should fix your ride height issue one end at a time would be irresponsible. I would suggest that you pick up a nice set of uprated springs and install them at all four corners. At least that way you would have a set that was designed to work together. If your car is sporting old springs, it's time to renew them. The way me and most of my local TR8 friends deal with suspension setups is a lot more complicated. I build coilovers for the front struts and use 2.5 inch coilover springs. 10" in length for anything 250# ratings and less, 8" in length for anything above that and 6" for crazy race car only 450# and above. On the rears, we cut away the spring perch on the frame rail, weld in a piece of pipe to act as a locater for another set of coilover sleeves. Then we again install 2.5" coilover springs with similar weights and lengths to the front springs. Last but not least we install axle rebound straps similar to what MGBs have to make sure the springs don't fall out of the car in the event the rear wheels come off the ground. Sounds like a ton of work, but actually it's only about a days worth. Once this setup is installed, we can adjust the ride quality in a matter of minutes, and we end up with a fully adjustable suspension. You would not believe how well these cars handle compared to a stock or even the usual uprated TR8 suspension.

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geoffreyk Avatar
geoffreyk Geoff Kearley
Conception Bay South, Topsail, Newfoundland, Canada   CAN
Todd,
That sounds like a lot of fun and ingenuity! You are right; it's way more than I want or need to do. I didn't do ANY of the suspension work on my TR7 so I don't know what's been done but it is about 1 fist height lower that a stock TR7. I figure that's about 3-1/2 inches. The back seems the same height as stock. If I do change out the springs I'll be back in touch for some tips.

It is really hard to find tires! I have found some cheapies but that's not for the best. I stated that earleir that my tires were 175s but they are the proper 185/70R13. My spare is a 175. I have trouble finding the 185s in Canada. So far I have found a Cooper, Kuhmo and another that are within my budget. I think I may need to spend a little more...but are Redlines really worth $225 per tire?

Anyway, I'll spend a few days looking and arrive at something. I'll post it here so other TR7 drivers will know.
Geoff

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18593210 Avatar
18593210 Wilbur Cook
Austin, TX, USA   USA
1977 MG MGB V6 Conversion
1980 Triumph TR8 "BLUE GOOSE"
1981 Triumph TR8 "CHESTER"
Michelin makes a very good tire. Red lines are too expensive IMOP. If money is no problen then no worry. I have Cooper tires on my 02 tahoe and I have over 40,000 miles with them with very little wear showing. Cooper make good resonably priced tires. By the way my 1981 TR8 looks just like your 1980 TR7.

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TR8todd Avatar
TR8todd Todd Kishbach
Mass, USA   USA
1977 Triumph TR7 "Rally Fraud"
1978 Triumph TR8
1979 Triumph TR7
1980 Triumph TR8    & more
If you can track down a dealer for legends race cars, then you can get Federal 595 tires. They are the spec tire for that racing series and only available thru a dealer. Spec size is 205/60/13. They are a true performance dry tire. They don't carry a DOT cert because they are a spec racing tire with tread and a wear rating of 460. Federal makes a DOT cert version of the 595 as well, but I think they only come in 185/70/13. The race tires are around $90 to $100 each plus shipping. The DOT tires are around $70 a piece. Either way, these are the best streetable tires available that I know of short of Toyo R1 at $130 plus each with a wear rating of only 100. The Toyos are basically a street legal race tire. Here is a dealers list.

http://www.uslegendcars.com/getting_started/find_a_dealer/

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dgregg65 Don Gregg
Rootstown, OH, USA   USA
Geoffrey,

I had the tire rubbing problem, as you described on my TR7. I bought uprated springs from the Wedge Shop. Uprated springs solved both the tire rubbing on bumps, hard corners and the nose-dive problem while braking heavily. I have not had problems with scraping speed bumps; my ride height is actually higher with the new uprated springs, even though the are advertised to lower the ride by one inch.

As for tires, the last set I bought were 205/60 R13 Cooper Cobras. The warehouse said they were they last set on the shelf and I would never find them again. Good luck.

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dhuddleson Avatar
dhuddleson David Huddleson
Manotick, ON, Canada   CAN
It is not unusual to find that old stock springs have settled so much that replacements (stock or uprated) actually RAISE the ride height. That is probably the major reason for the rubbing tires, the front springs having sagged so much.

A set of springs (front & back) and new rubber (or poly) packings will cost you perhaps $300 total. As Todd pointed out, do not deal with one end of the vehicle in isolation from the other. Make your suspension (spring/shocks/etc) decisions for the whole vehicle.

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Valleyboy Wayne T
Halifax, NS, Canada   CAN
Hi Geoff,

Thanks for the good reading on the tire issue from you and the other members. I am the new owner of a 1980 TR7 which needs some TLC and the first being new tires. Have you made a decision on what to go with yet? I am debating on going to the Michelin Defender or a Goodyear brand at Walmart. What do you think about upsizing?

Never go cheap on your shoes or your tires my dad used to say smiling smiley

Cheers!

Wayne

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acltpvd charles frink
Mass, USA   USA
The rubbing you refer to could also be caused by the wheels having the wrong offset. My first thought would be weak springs but that would I think not be an issue with rubbing on the inside of the tire (if I am reading this correctly). I take it the wheels were on the car when purchased. Having lowering springs on the front only can cause issues as the car now sits front low.

As far as 13" wheels are concerned I have them on my 7 FHC (TR 7 Spider wheels) with 206-60-13 Cooper Cobra tires with never an issue. The car does have stock height springs.

I would think a set of 1" lowering springs (all 4) would solve your problem provided your wheel offset is correct. I have these on one of the 8's along with 205-50-15 rubber and ROTA RB wheels and like the ride and the look of the way the car sits.. Keep in mind these springs have a stiffer ride.

100% your call.

Charles

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Carb-Dave Avatar
Carb-Dave Dave Mundt
Cedar Falls, IA, USA   USA
yeaa...looks like 14's are a no-go. Now looking at 205/50/15 options using a 'Minilite' or 'Panasport' style wheel. I'm picky - the VTOs everyone is going to look too open and spokey to me - not enough flange. Compomotives (ML) look just right in 15X7 with a ~20 mm offset.

I like the idea of a beefier tire with deeper (more neutral) offset wheels - they just look right on this car. Overly positive offset wheels (often referred to as front wheel drive style) and very low profile tires don't look right on vintage British cars ---- but that is just MHO.

Carb-Dave (now EFI-Dave)

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B Corn Avatar
B Corn Bill Corn
DULUTH, GA, USA   USA
1980 Triumph TR7 Drophead "TR7"
1992 Jaguar XJS "XJS"
Michelin tires are the absolute best in my opinion, but can be expensive. When I got my 7 it has a matching set of 185/70R13 Hercules tires made in 2014 with about 600 miles on them, so no need to replace. They have a good looking tread pattern and handle very well in both dry and wet. The car sits a lot on concrete and they don't seem to flat-spot either. I was curious to find out who makes them and looked them up. I was surprised to find out that Cooper makes them in Findlay, OH. Next summer, 2020, they will be celebrating 60 years. You can find them on Amazon and eBay for a little less than $260 per set with free shipping.



B Corn
Duluth, GA

'80 Triumph TR7
'92 Jaguar XJS V12 Convertible
'92 Jaguar XJ6 Sovereign
'93 Cadillac Allanté
Daily- 2005 Jaguar XJ8L

"It's more fun to drive a slow car fast than drive a fast car slow."

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Darth V8R Avatar
Darth V8R Vance Navarrette
Beaverton, OR, USA   USA
1980 Triumph TR7 Drophead "The Great Pumpkin"
1980 Triumph TR8 "Wedgie"
In reply to # 1603364 by B Corn Michelin tires are the absolute best in my opinion, but can be expensive. When I got my 7 it has a matching set of 185/70R13 Hercules tires made in 2014 with about 600 miles on them, so no need to replace. They have a good looking tread pattern and handle very well in both dry and wet. The car sits a lot on concrete and they don't seem to flat-spot either. I was curious to find out who makes them and looked them up. I was surprised to find out that Cooper makes them in Findlay, OH. Next summer, 2020, they will be celebrating 60 years. You can find them on Amazon and eBay for a little less than $260 per set with free shipping.

I feel much better about US made tires than the Chinese tires so many places sell in that size. The Chinese are not yet trustworthy in the automotive quality arena, IMHO.

Vance



1980 Platinum Metallic TR8, frame off restoration, complete.
1980 Vermilion TR7 Sprint replica, in progress.

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