L953 XK120 replacement tyres

Hi All:

My enjoyable drive this afternoon was spoiled by a flat tyre–the first on the road that I can recall in a long time. Anyway, the tyre appears to be toast. I have been running Coker Classic 600.16 radials for some years now, however, I have noted that several listers use Bridgestone Ecopias. The problem for me in Canada is that I have to order the Cokers from Tennessee, but I am sure I can locate Bridgestones locally. Can I ask what size folks are using on their XK120s? The Cokers are very similar to the original profile found on the car, i.e. tall and narrow. I believe the Bridgestone tyres are a little fatter in width, does this create problems fitting one in the spare tyre compartment or with wheel spat clearance? Any information would be appreciated.




Below I’ve provided a link to my photo album from the old Jag-Lovers site, which should answer most of your questions about the Bridgestone Ecopia. The Ecopia is about the same height as your Coker Classics but somewhat wider. I’ve had them on my car for four years, and I am very happy with them.


In the U.S. they are only available through Tire Rack. They are not carried at retail Bridgestone tire stores. The current cost is $137 per tire. My spare fits fine in the boot, but my wheels are the mounted on the earlier 5 inch wide rims, and I still have the original fuel tank. To be safe, I would order just four Ecopias initially. Make sure they fit in the boot before ordering a fifth Ecopia for a spare.


Hi Mike:

Thanks for the link, very helpful. I didn’t realize that the Ecopia was only available through Tire Rack, I will have to talk to the people here locally with respect to Canadian availability (I was hoping I could get them from a Canadian source given the current rate of our dollar against yours). My car, a '53, has the 5 1/2" rims so this may affect clearances.



Chris & Mike:
I am confused about these Bridgestone tires.I went to the tire rack web site and looked then up, they are very nice looking and fill the wheel wells beautifully. I can’t understand how they can be so reasonably priced. While the veredestene classic are 3 times the price, and the Coker brand is about twice as expensive. I am almost to the point in my restoration to buy wheels &tires. I have a 1958 XK 150S OTS, are my size tires different than yours.
Thanks in advance for any and all info
Denny Broughel

Hi All:

My enjoyable drive this afternoon was spoiled by a flat tyre–the first on the road that I can recall in a long time. Anyway, the tyre appears to be toast. I have been running Coker Classic 600.16 radials for some years now, however, I have noted that several listers use Bridgestone Ecopias. The problem for me in Canada is that I have to order the Cokers from Tennessee, but I am sure I can locate Bridgestones locally. Can I ask what size folks are using on their XK120s? The Cokers are very similar to the original profile found on the car, i.e. tall and narrow. I believe the Bridgestone tyres are a little fatter in width, does this create problems fitting one in the spare tyre compartment or with wheel spat clearance? Any information would be appreciated.



Hi Denny:

According to Philip Porter in “The Original Jaguar XK” (2003 edition, p.129) the same tyres were fitted virtually throughout the production life of the XKs, Dunlop Road Speed 6.00-16. I agree with you that the Ecopias are certainly a good price compared to Coker and Vredestein. I am continuing to research the subject given that the price I was quoted by the Canadian distributor for Coker for a Classic radial was $363. each (!). My problem with Mike’s specs on the Ecopia is that I am sure it will not fit my car without chafing the wheel spat on the off side where I have less clearance than the driver’s side for some reason. Bias ply tyres seem to be about half the price of radials, but again, my local supplier shakes his head when I mention 6.00-16 sizing. Meantime, I am grounded!!



I believe the XK120 and the XK150S take the same size tire, so the Bridgestone Ecopia should fit fine. I assume you have wire wheels, so you would need to purchase good quality tubes intended for radial ply tires.

A big concern about purchasing new tires is the recommendation to replace them after 6 or 8 years simply because the rubber has aged. Under this scenario, I don’t come close to driving my XK120 enough to wear out the tread. I dread the idea of replacing extremely expensive tires just because they have exceeded some theoretical shelf life.

The thing we never see for tires meant for vintage automobiles is side-by-side, non-biased testing such as done by Consumer Reports for tires meant for modern automobiles. That type of testing would provide answers for questions we can only guess at now such as comparative tread life, wet and dry traction, handling, road noise, and overall value.

The Tire Rack has a pretty extensive testing program, to the extent that I believe that they have their own test track. Might they be persuaded to do a modest test given the loan of an XK for the purpose?

Several of us in the New England XK120 group run Goodyear Eagle LS-2’s in size P205-70R16. These are great types, very close to the original size and are reasonably priced. Not sure how to send you a photo, but they really do look nice with blackwalls on chrome 60 spoke wire wheels. Granted, this is not the original idea, so I keep a set of bias ply whitewalls on the original painted 54 spoke wire wheels as well.

Hi Clifford:

That size would work on a wire wheeled car, but I don’t think they would fit on a steel wheeled car with spats.


Hi Mike:

Your comments on longevity of tyre life are, I am sure, concerning to most classic/vintage car owners who rarely clock up sufficient mileage to replace their rubber because of a lack of tread depth. I seem to recall Roger Payne commenting some time ago on this Forum that in Australia it is mandatory by law to replace a vehicles tyres after a specific period calculated from the date of tyre manufacture.

The Cokers on my car were originally purchased in June, 2004 and have logged approximately 30,000 miles since installation. They still have adequate tread depth and the only reason I had to replace the one that went flat last weekend was because I damaged the cords prior to being able to get the car off the road. For those of us who do not race, or consistently cruise at very high speeds for prolonged periods, I suspect that replacing a tyre after 6 or 8 years is probably premature, particularly if the car is garaged and not exposed to prolonged sunlight. I am sure there are ‘experts’ who will disagree with me, but all I have to go on, in the absence of the type of report you advocate, is my own experience. Like most classic car enthusiasts I maintain my car carefully and I am constantly visually checking the tyres for any adverse signs. As someone once observed to me: if a manufacturer’s speed recommendation is, for example, 94 mph it does not mean that the tyre will fly apart at 95 mph, but any sustained high speed driving at over that recommendation will increase the risk that it likely will. It is similar to the “best before” date on foodstuff, if you eat it a day after the date posted you are unlikely to be felled by ptomaine poisoning, it is simply a guide.

I ran a set of Cinturatos prior to the Cokers and they were on the car for longer than 6-8 years and, ultimately, I did wear out the tread life, but I never experienced any problems. Similarly, I drove my 1980 Mazda 626 on a set of Radial TAs for considerably longer than the 6-8 years prior to replacing them. For gently aging folk like myself who enjoy a cruise on the back roads at more sedate velocities and who only occasionally experiences the red mist when some clown wants to assume the automotive mating position 4 inches of our rear bumper (and thus forces us to play boy racer through the twisty bits!), I suspect we can extend those 6-8 years a little.

As they say, just my two cents worth.



PS I found a Bridgestone dealer about 20 minutes from me who has located 4 Ecopias, which, given the price, I will snap up! I’ll let you know how they work out on my 5 1/2" rims.


If I’m not mistaken, all of the extra width of the 5.5 inch rims is on the brake drum side of the rim. Thus, tires mounted on the wider rims will be the same distance from the spats as tires mounted on the earlier 5 inch wide rims.

My own belief is the first point of contact with the spats in a hard turn is the center of the hub cap against the rolled bottom edge of the spat. This seems to be much closer than the distance between the tire and the spat.

For this reason, I no longer drive with the rear hub caps installed. The spats almost completely hide any trace of the missing rear hub caps. One would have to be on their hands and knees to notice.

Here is the photo of the 120 with the Goodyear Eagles.

Not totally correct Chris.

When I was the Principal Engineer for the Australian Federal Transport Department we were certainly regularly lobbied by various parties of various genuine and/or vested interested parties to introduce National Legislation to limit tyre-life based on an arbitrary age, over and above the prevailing in-service Roadworthy Requirements such as tread-depth, visible damage etc.

I can’t remember all the detail of the argument and counter argument, but bottom line is there was no technical justification we could find for arbitrarily putting in place a specific maximum tyre-life age requirement on justifiable/demonstrable safety grounds, but rather than debate the technical merits or lack thereof, we chose the easy cop-out route than be subjected to law suits and class-action suits regardless of which way we went, and said it was not a Federal Legislation matter, as the ACT of Parliament, under which Federal Automotive Safety Laws applied, was only applicable to cars when they first entered Service for use on Australian Roads, so only for new tyres, thus any suggestion of a 10 year old (or other arbitrary number) restriction was not within the Feds area of interest/jurisdiction.

So, we flicked the issue to the eight State and Territory Governments who had legislative responsibility for in-service safety of only the vehicles they had registered in their particular state/ territory, and thus they wore the legal responsibility one way or the other. So, we now have a situation where the rules differ from one State/ Territory to another, depending on what State/ Territory number-plates are fitted to the car.

Now I am not at all up to date, but the attitude does vary from one State to the next – generally our ‘wild-west’ states – WA, SA and NT couldn’t care less, but the eastern states are a lot more conservative, even so, and I stand to be corrected, I think only Victoria has so far proceeded to legislate a State requirement of maximum 10 year life of tyres, albeit that was a compromise, as certain segments lobbied for a 5 year life maximum; but with one State capitulating, the pressure is now increased on other State’s to follow suit, albeit I can’t imagine the wild-west will ever care, and they have a bloody-minded attitude at the best of times re anything coming from Canberra (The Federal Government or the local Australian Capital Territory) or the major Eastern States of Victoria and NSW, or indeed our ‘deep south’, that just happens to be Queensland in the North.

IN a Federal Government sense, apart from regulating NEW Cars (with thus their new tyres), Federal Legislation also applies to used second-hand cars being imported to Australia for FIRST use on Australian Roads, and in that case the formal schemes that certify second-hand cars as being acceptable for use on Australian Roads simply requires NEW tyres to be fitted, regardless of condition/age of its imported second-hand-tyres. It’s easy in a legal sense, fit new tyres regardless!.

Other second-hand imports, such as eligible Historic (pre 1989) cars get a Federal Rules exemption, so again its left up to the State’s/ Territories what they require for first registration, and that’s usually a visual inspection of wear/damage, except in Victoria where 10 year limit is applied.

So I don’t really know what to advise Classic Car owners who have barely worn, but aged tyres – the science just does not support arbitrary decisions based on age alone re tyre safety. Certainly rubber hardens, and that will affect grip levels wet and dry, but that varies anyway from one brand to another, one size to another.

I think if I was a Concours buff I would only be concerned if visible tyre condition deteriorated (cracks in sidewalls) such that I lost points for condition – how many judges know how to age a tyre?

If I just did Sunday drives around town at low speed, I probably wouldn’t care either apart from a regular visual inspection, and making sure I had a serviceable spare and wheel-changing equipment.

But if I was into long-distance remote/outback driving, or high speed back road driving, I would be much more circumspect re the implications of a tyre-failure at speed or remote areas.

If racing – there are other considerations that matter more.

Or if I lived in a State that did introduce arbitrary tyre-age laws, I guess I would have to comply, or risk a fine – if indeed there was much risk of detection. Is a copper really going to book an XK120 driver with otherwise road-worthy looking tyres fitted, by working out the codes that might say the tyre is only 9 years old or a shock-horror an unsafe 11 years old! Depends if he is on a quota or a mission or a Head Office crack-down I suspect, or if he saw you doing burn-outs so wanted an easy excuse.

And YES, a tyre Speed-Rating, is its ‘Sustained Maximum Speed’, and not the maximum achievable speed, but then in a legal sense it all depends what the relevant State or Federal Legislation says. Most legislation nominates the arbitrary tyre-rating must exceed the maximum-achievable-speed, as how can you possibly regulate/enforce ‘Sustained Maximum Speed’ The legal instrument is usually the TYRE PLACARD (and what paperwork is behind it) required to be affixed to any car – but these did not exist when XKs were built, being introduced in USA and in Australia in the 1960s, ahead of UK and Europe who followed in the 1970s (?), and the Japanese/Koreans only when exporting cars to the previously mentioned regulated countries – in Japan, they legislate to get rid of the entire car at 5 years of life (or pay a heavy ongoing price for cars worth keeping any longer), and not just the tyres – keeps their factories building at capacity!.

And PS. My tyre of choice on both 15” E-type and 16” XK is Michelin, albeit the Michelin XVS my preference, is only made in 15” size, but next set of 16” tyres I buy, to replace my current ¼ worn only 20 year old Firestone radials (Car under restoration) will probably be a set of Michelin X for ‘go’ (on 60-spoke CWW), and a set of Dunlop RS5 (cross-ply as original) for ‘show’ (on original 54-spoke body-coloured WW).

And I most definitely will not fit wider and/or low profile tyres to either car, as their wheels and suspension were designed as a package with nominated standard tyres – even fitting radial tyres give side-ways grip levels in excess of original cross-ply tyres, such that 54 spoke 5”x16” wire wheels were strengthened in 1958 to have 60 spokes, and E-types went to 72 spokes in 1961 – for a reason!

Roger Payne

Hi Roger:

Thanks. Another part of the “gently aging” process is that it also affects the little grey cells!


Hi Mike:

You are correct, the closest thing to my LR spat is the centre of the hubcap, thus removal of same, should it be required, would deal with the extra width of the Ecopia.



Further to Roger’s comments re tyre life I would like to add this. In the eighties I had a MGB GT that was shod with Avon tyres, age unknown. Driving to work one morning at 100 kph the car all of a sudden started to shake & vibrate. After pulling over & inspecting the tyres, all inflated, I tracked the problem to a bulge in the tread of one of the rear tyres. Apparently the steel belt had parted, thus the bulge. I replaced the tyre & another one with new tyres putting the new tyres on the front & the two remaining Avons on the rear. Shortly after another Avon steel belt let go.

Next car I had tyre problems with was a Healey 100, bought in 1988 to restore with two brand new Pirelli tyres on the rear. Car was restored & on the road in 2000. Highway driving to a national Healey meet that year I had another experience of the bulge on a rear tyre, age of tyre unknown but must have been at least well over 12 years old.

Then this year driving just recently my TR6 at 110kmp I had a Falken rear tyre develop a bulge. The age of the tyre I think from the date stamp is 17 years. Old I know but only a third worn if that, car always garage & under a car cover. I am now in the process of buying four new tyres. Perhaps one should buy tyres not on their big mileage claims but on their wearing out quickly ability.

So in 30 years I have had four tyres develop the same problem of the steel belt letting go. What is concerning is that all the cars are light vehicles & I am not a hoon, I look after my cars.

The other issue is if there is legislation re the age of tyres permitted on vehicles then if your tyres are out of date, are you covered by insurance should you have an accident?

Cheers Peter

I experienced a Pirelli Cinturato of some 10 years of age but less than 5,000 miles. partially shed a tread…front left at about 40mph…key word being partially as the tread was still on the carcass for about 10 inches as the rest flapped about destroying front wing…luckily I did not go across to oncoming traffic…or off to the ditch. Upon inspection of other tires I found the tell tale bump on tread to indicate tread to carcass glue failing. I suppose that sign may not always appear before a failure. Tire tread squishes and moves about on any carcass, eventually, as glues dry out, the bond can fail. Hi ways are littered with proof.

Here’s a question about tire life related to the timespan we have been using tires. Does spraying on any of the silicon products such as Armour All have any effect on preventing problems? I have often found cracking in the side walls of Avon tires both for XKs and motorcycles.

Hi Art:

I have used ArmorAll for years (big improvement over tyre paint, remember that?) and have never experienced any problem with it. I still have one of the Cinturatos that was first used on the car back in the seventies in the garage. This, like my other tyres, had been treated with ArmorAll for it’s life and shows no sidewall cracks. The only thing I noticed on one occasion when the car was parked at a muffler shop for several days and left outside during the day exposed to the sun, was that the sidewalls took on a brown hue, however, this polished off. As the car is always garaged I have not noticed this problem since.