So I know this an old and indeed recurring topic, and I’ve read the archives, but just seeing if there are fresh views out there.
Currently I’m running on Maxxis MA-1 205/70 R15 on the front and Wingro GTs on the rear (I inherited this arrangement from the PO). I’ve noticed rather poor traction in the wet, a couple of alarming fishtail wriggles leaving roundabouts despite taking (I think) good care at low speeds. Plenty of tread but they are at least six years old so perhaps time to replace? While I avoid wet driving when I can, and don’t push my luck, I’ve never experienced dry grip issues and so wet traction is my biggest concern. I am more bothered about quality and safety than price. At the moment I have narrow band whitewalls but I am not bothered about retaining that look.
Aquajets must be great. XWX are excellent. The ‚classic‘ tyres for many, many hundred bucks I dislike.
I have Blockleys and in my opinion they are very good in all situations so far. I haven’t heard anything bad about the Avons, if you lose traction in a little bit of rain the tyres may indeed be a little hard from age and any new rubber should help.
Any new tyre is probably going to be a lot better than your old ones. Anything older than 10 years is not legal here and thats probably a good thing. Old tyres have a hardness which doesn’t seem to matter in the dry as much, but in the wet they have very low grip and demonstrate the issue you described.
From the list you gave there are probably no actively bad choices. So its down to availability, price, best deal and what you feel happy with.
FWIW my specialist recommended uniroyal rainmaster which is what I have fitted all round. Perfectly happy but then my only other experience on the car was with very old sun hardened tyres
Just to add my two peneth worth… I just replaced my boots this weekend. The tyres that were on the car were about 12 years old, and looked good, yeah they flat spotted whilst sitting for 8 years or so but I put some extra air in there and it seemed fine. When I had them replaced the guys changing the boots put one of the wheels on the balancing machine with the old tyre and you could really see the up and down movement “lucky it never ripped your suspension off” was the comment. All the old ones were around 150 (the indication on the digital display of the wheel balancer) with new boots they were 5 - 10! The difference on road is huge. OH and the tyres I fitted were Point S, a continental brand, I couldn’t find the Pirellis or Dunlops I wanted in the time I needed. These seem OK though.
Keep away from the P5 Nick, you just pay extra for the “retro” look but basicaly you are bying a tyre that was designed 30 years ago…
And you travel a lot with this car, so good modern tyres is a very good idea.
To complicate things even more for you, how about considering going to a 215/65 R50 dimension?
That’s what I did and I am very hapy with.
They look nicer (in my opinion at least) and the norrower sidewall improves handling.
Also consider ones with Rim protection, usefull and also looks nicer.
One thing that confuses me (and exposes my ignorance) is why there is such emphasis on tyres designed a long time ago. I get that certain tyres were recommended by the manufacturer at the time (Aquajet), and even designed for the car (P5). I also get that we like authenticity and originality. And I understand that today, these retro models use more modern materials. But surely tyre design has moved on in 40 years? So I am not sure if the premium price for the above brands is buying the look, or some special physical quality that makes it somehow ideal for this vehicle…
That said, there is not a terrific amount of choice given that most 205/70s seem to be van tyres these days - and presumably not suitable.
Aristides thanks for reminding me of that post, yes I had read that and sort of put it aside, again thinking there is a reason why Jaguar specified 205/70… but maybe I will take another look.
I’ll be in Provence in the second half of July - sadly not in the XJC though, would be crazy to drive to the south of France on those days!! Will look you up.
I bought the blockleys because I really like how they look. As long as such profiles are available at reasonable (…cough) prices I want to use them. Radar seems a lower budget option as well. If that’s not an issue for you get modern tyres and drive with it. Stay away from goodride or nankang (they are very good for what you pay, but it’s not much) and you can’t go wrong. I like Aristides‘ 215.
As with all tings, Nick - tyres have moved on. But also; manufacturers may change owners, franchise or even move to other countries - with unpredictable results…
The old adage is still valid: “It’s the quality that guarantees the brand - not the other way around” - and price is not a sure way to judge quality. Then there is the personal perception; you can only judge your tyre satisfaction by driving on them - and measuring longevity inevitably takes time. A soft compound gives, crudely, better grip, but wears quicker - harder compounds wear better but, again crudely, with lesser grip. This is a compromise with different priorities at different companies - as is tyre tread patterns; noise and grip on different surfaces…
As Aristides suggests; consider 215/65 to widen your choices. The OEM 205/70 were a choice based on adding tyre compliance to the car’s suspension for a smooth ride - the skinnier the tyres the harsher the ride. There are a lot of manufacturers out there making adequate to good tyres - and even better.
Not sure if they’re available in your market, but if Michelin Defenders come in the proper size for your car, I can’t say enough about them! They handle well in the dry, they do well in the wet and snow, and they wear like iron!
The new versions of old designs are NOT the same as originals! Visually they are designed to be similar (profile shape, tread pattern) but the compounds are completely up to date. They are also designed to work with the typical classic setup of higher profile, softer suspension.
It means there’s a lot better performance and safety than the originals. I run modern ‘classic’ Pirelli CN36 on a 70’s Alfa and they definitely feel a lot better than the modern performance tyres. But they do cost a lot.
As the absurd trend towards lower profile tyres continues its getting hard to find anything that will fit some classics. Hard to believe the Series 1 XJ shocked the world with its ‘radical low profile’ 70 section tyres at launch.
I don’t know where you are located, but if you are in the US or Canada, I highly recommend Bridgestone Ecopia 215-70-HR-15 which I purchased at Costco on sale several years ago. As long as you do not plan driving at speeds in excess 110 miles per hour, you would be happy.Smooth ride, good handling, and even better fuel economy will please you.
The tyres on my '82 SIII were old and pretty grotty and I considered them to be unsafe so needed to replace them. I considered buying some 205/70/15s from Longstone but really couldn’t bring myself to pay so much (over £1,300) for the old technology, even if the Pirellis were true to the original.
Encouraged by @Aristides post and the fact that the only 205/70s I could source in the UK were effectively truck tyres, I got 4 Bridgestone 215/65/15’s fitted at Costco for around £1,000 less than the 205/70 Pirellis.
First experience is very encouraging. The tyres fill the wheel wells nicely and look good. Ride is good, noise levels are low and rear-end grip is excellent.
I’m a little more concerned about the front end as it doesn’t feel so tied down as before. Responsiveness and turn-in are great but at speed (over 100 km/h) the front end seems a little light. I’m inclined to think this is down to tyre pressure. Based on information from elsewhere, I asked the fitters to do 36psi all round. I’m inclined to take that down to 32/33 front/rear and see how that goes.
I definitely don’t regret going with the 215/65’s and will spend the £1,000 saved elsewhere…
Any experience/advice with the pressures will be appreciated.
I’ve not noticed increased steering effort nor tramlining - that might be specific to the tyre brand - but it will be interesting to see what happens when I change the pressures. I’ll give 32/32 a go for comparison.