185 (OEM) Series vs 205 Series Tire?

So Nick, the wider wheels show the intuitive advantage of more tire on the ground, ie. greater traction. Mr. Longstone’s narrative is that situation is not the advantage it may seem to be. I have a tough time rationalizing that. But my Bridgestone 205x65x15’s on 6" daytons grip is far beyond my balls for street driving.

So how does your car handle? Can you drift it through the corners like a Goodwood racer?
I remember putting Pirelli Cintauratos on a Fiat and killing the fun factor because it stuck so well. Less is more?

David, the advantage of the 185s mounted to the 6” wheels is the original footprint is maintained with a slightly stiffer sidewall. Tire on the ground isn’t changed from the original configuration. The lightness of steering is maintained (I will depend on @John_Walker to testify to that since he’s driven my E) with to my eyes an improved aesthetic.

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I have had 195 and 185 width tyres on my car. I couldn’t tell the difference between them. If I ever fit 205 width I’m sure I’d still not tell the difference on the road, even when parking. Maybe that’s because I cut my driving teeth on cars that had no power steering, and have always made sure the wheels are rolling when I turned the steering wheel.

I don’t ever drive at the limit of the tyre’s adhesion. Given today’s traffic that would be stupid, and given the traffic laws in Blighty I’m sure my licence would become heavy with endorsements. If I wanted to put it on a track (I never will, but…) I’d change the tyres for more suitable compounds widths and profiles, and the suspension to reduce roll.

So the only reason I’d change tyres for a wider tread would be to make the car look less inept, to fill the wheel arches, to make it look more planted on the road. Make it more boxer than ballerina. The E-Type never was a wimp, but it needs to look the part. Wider tyres will do that.

205/65R15 is too small in diameter (5% of 205mm = 10mm radius. nearly an inch in diameter.

When you change tyres. the ones you take off might easily not be up to pressure. so if you take off a 185 that is slightly low in pressure and fit a 195 at the correct pressure arguably the 195 could feel lighter. One of the other things that makes tyre comparisons difficult is you take off old rubber and fit new.

The science tells us that a period 185 is better on these cars. and a 185R15 Cinturato will not stop you as well in a straight line as a modern tyre like a 205/65, and you may have less wheel spin with a wider tyre. However in the corners a 185R15 Cinturato will be miles better because it is thinner with a more rounded cacrass, where your modern tyre will lift the inside edge and the loss of grip will be more sudden.

Back to the tyre comparison. if you take off an old perished, low pressure 185 and fit a correctly inflated 195 or 205 section tyre you might not so much feel it is a bad thing. However one thing i think i can very confidentially say is that everyone that takes off wrong size tyres and fitts either 185Vr15 Pirelli Cinturato or 185VR15 Michelin XVS is over the moon with it, they love the feel of the car being the way it should be.

Has anyone ever made this transfer back to the good stuff and not been really pleased with the results?

Most of the period photos that I have seen of E-types in race trim show wide, modern rubber…definitely not 185s at all four corners. The factory offered (recommended?) a 5.5 inch wheel at the rear and the very early race cars appear to have front tire diameter of the same size as a 205/65 and the rear diameter the same as a modern 205/70. I believe David Alhers post above is on the mark. The 185 tires give the vintage “feel”…along with the loss of grip and slip when cornering fast. Dollars to donuts the actual grip is far less than a modern tire. You get to feel like boy racer, but the car is relatively speaking…slow. Another anecdote…the fast autocross cars in recent years do not use 185 tires. My experience with 205/65 V rated Sumitomos on the front is that they provide massive grip and instant steering response …akin to my old Lotus Elan on shaved Pirelli P7s on 6" wheels back in my autocross days.

I’d judge your car as very well sorted, obviously well maintained and quite a joy to drive. Yes, I noted the steering was lighter than my FHC with its 205s.

Since getting a 185 or 195 with the correct diameter and a REASONABLE price isn’t easy, especially if you want easy replacement in case of damage and some assurance that they are made well (low production, some issues in the past), a “205” just makes sense. I don’t want to hear about “how valuable our cars are” and " a small price to pay" - some of us just don’t want to get screwed buying what may be a less modern and less well engineered item. We need the diameter. I actually think this is one of the biggest issues. Tires are a very ‘black art’ - we really don’t know how well made a darn near reproduction tire is. We do know a modern 205/70 is made in large numbers and with modern concepts. If Honda Accords start coming with 185R15’s then maybe we’d have some choices. I’d love some perfect Michelins - what I don’t know for sure is if those particular tires are really any good - they stink of “reproduction” and smell of ridiculous cost.

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a fast Autocross car has had it’s chassis geometry changed for racing as mentioned above. and what suits one of those cars has got nothing to do with what makes a good road tyre.

A wider foot print just does not give as fast steering response

Yes they are easy to get.

here is the crux of the matter “reasonable price” No they are not cheap, but they are made by Michelin and Pirelli. It has nothing to do with the value of the car. (I just put £ 800 worth of Brakes and £ 800 worth of tyres on my £ 3,500 2001 XJR). an e type is a very powerful car and tyres for fast sports cars don’t come cheap, specially when they are top quality. yes if you are modifying your car, or going racing, or just want to buy a tyre that is cheap, then maybe 205/65R15 is right for you, and i am glad that larebob has been frank enough to clarify it is just about price. However for a nice, non power-steering road car, 185VR15 Cinturato or XVS are the nicest tyres.

Longstone, Where do you stand opinion wise on the Vredestein185 that many here are using?

Thanks for all the interesting comments & information. I’ve decided to go with the 185 Perelli C when the time comes. Go with the best and worry less.

Do the Michelin 185VR15 XVS tires require tubes? Coker says yes they need tubes and Longstone Classic Tyres say they are Tubeless. I’'m looking to buy some soon so would like to know.

Thanks Andy
69 FHC

Without doubt, the 185VR15 Michelin XVS tyres currently in my stock are tubeless tyres,Also the current Michelin brochures state tubeless. I have also encouraged Michelinto make all the XAS range tubeless.

This means you can run the 185VR15 XVS without a tube or if you have wheels that are not suitable to run without tubes, you can still fit inner tubes as it is an 80% profile tyre. when i say suitable to be tubeless i mean not wire wheels. We suggest fitting inner tubes in all wire wheels. there is no need to take the risk. we have come across too many failures with tubeless wire wheels to have faith in them

This web page gives you most of the specification about these tyres. https://www.longstonetyres.co.uk/tyres/185-15/185vr15-michelin-xvs.html However if you do spot mistakes on our web site please let us know.

I am not a fan of the Vredestein, I think when they were cheaper then i understood people buying them. we do not tend to sell so many any more. however when we did sell more; we got quite a few complaints about the dents in the side wall.

Then of course there is the look. they don’t look very good. they have all sorts of modern detail on the side wall. the tread doesn’t look period, because it isn’t, and then the write the word “Classic” on the side wall.

The only reason to buy the Vredestein is price.

I haven’t driven a Jag on them, but i have driven an Alfa Spider on them which we put XAS on. Wow worlds apart. I owned a V8 Daimler which i also fitted with 180HR15 XAS, again fantastic https://www.longstonetyres.co.uk/classic-car-tyres/daimler/v8-saloon.html .I have also been in an XK120 fitted with Vredesteins. we then Fitted Cinturato on Borrani wheels. I wasn’t driving, but the driver (and owner of the car) just loved them.

John’s chart shows that Michelin Defender T+H in 205/70-15 96H will fit my original 5 inch rims. I am tempted to go back with Vredesteins, but the current stock available (at the places I checked) was made in 2017 and I’d rather have something made more recently. Is anyone running Michelin Defender T+H in 205/70-15 96H on 5 inch rims?

Thanks for any help[.


Years ago a put some Goodyear 205’s on 5” wheels and the car did not feel good to me, enough so that I put Dayton 6” wheels on it that returned “feel’ to what it had been.

I agree with you. when I originally got my Series II it came with 205’s and I drove it that way for a few hundred miles before doing the full restoration, then opted for Pirelli 185s post restoration. It’s a better and more satisfying overall driver on the 185’s for sure. One other item is that if you have to do a roadside tire change in the middle of nowhere on the 205’s it’s a bigger deal. Don’t ask.

Pre restoration 205’s:

Post restoration 185’s

I like the look on a 185. But people often think they look too thin. However i don’t think there isn’t any doubt about them being nicer to drive on a 185VR15 Cinturato or Michelin XVS.

Interestingly though we are just changing a set of Michelin XWX tyres on an e-type and the owner has done 30,000 miles on them which is pretty impressive on an old car. (i must admit they were pretty bald though. I would have changed them somewhat earlier. He definitely got his monies worth. we are now fitting 205/70VR15 Pirelli Cinturato CN12)

185 vs 205 vs 225

(I hope this is PC)… I like my tires to look like beautiful supermodels: tall, skinny & black.


Blimey we look through different eyes don’t we.

Do you remember what the lift points they used were? I’ve got a two post lift and would love to use it on the Jag but have never thought I could. I’m trying to see where it might be placed from the pic but can’t see clearly