XK120 DHC tires

I need tires for my '53 xk120 but can’t find the right size. I’ve looked at the posts on the issue and tried to get the RAV 4 205/60R 16’s but the shops won’t install them on my wire wheels due to “liability” issues? And yes the wheels are fine. Where are you guys getting your tires?

tons…and tons…in the archives…use the magnify search…but…600-16 bias Dunlops were the original with a diameter of really close to 28.2 inches, on 5 inch wide, 16 inch diam wire wheels. Start with that. Check on web: longstonetyres.co.uk
look at the specs on the tires-from costly Pirelli Cinturato CA67, and the Stella Blanca.
check that the diameters are close to 28 inches. Check that the tires will fit on a 5 inch wide rim. Modern radials with low profiles like 60 may be quite wide,
Blockely is a good tire. Some like Vredestein…a SUMMER tire…do not have on the car in sub freezing temps. Check a few shops for wire wheel install…I had no problem with Discount Tire…once I contacted the manager…and we discussed the importance of mounting, no marks etc. You MAY need to have your own cones…available at XK parts vendors…for occasional use at not too much…really helps to have em. Shops that cater to hot rodders who may have wire wheels may do it…but those wheels are bolt on , not splined. Care must be taken of the splines…any spline damage is really really bad.
but rather than me repeat what is in the archives already…go there…and noodle a while in the XK section.

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Your getting good advice - 205/60R x16 tyres are an illegal/unsafe fitment on 5" x 16" XK wheels…
Original equipment were cross-ply 6.00" x 16 tyres, but radial tyres 175R or 185R x 16 are equivalent/safe fitment. Legislation in Australia, but as based on the Tyre & Rim Association recommendations (International commonality, in North America, UK, Europe, Australasia etc.) allows one increment deviation in tyre width, and/or one increment in aspect ratio. A normal 185R x 16 tyre has 'standard’ aspect ratio of 78% (or some brands 80%) thus is not shown in tyre size molded onto sidewall of tyre, but if a ‘low-profile’ tyre the aspect ratio must be shown - thus your 205/60R x 16 example where ‘60’ = 60% aspect ratio, that is three increments less than ‘standard’ (70% is one increment, 65% is second increment, 60% is third increment), and your width '205" is two increments to wide (195 is one increment more than 185, and 205 is two increments wider). So your 205/60R x 16 is three + two increments = 5 increments different to 185R x 16 legal/safe equivalent…

There are plenty of specialist tyre outlets in GB, Europe, Australia and North America that sell ‘classic’ 185R x 16 tyres, and indeed I recently saw Michelin are offering radials but marked in cross-ply size convention of 6.00R x 16 in USA - seems USA now allows 6.00 to be shown in lieu of the agreed convention of only allowing radial tyres to show width in mm (as in 185), but still does require the mandatory letter R (for Radial) to follow the width…

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The tires on it now are the 6.00 x 16. I have seen on this forum several guys who installed those RAV4 205/60Rx16 tires and love them, that’s why I was curious. I guess I’ll keep trying to find 185Rx16’s. Thanks.

I have Coker Classic bias look radials with Coker tubes on my disc wheeled 120 and I love them, coming off 20 years of driving it on bias plys.
As to installation, “liability” is another way of saying they don’t know how to do wires and are afraid of lawyers.
Do as I did, buy a tire mounting post from Harbor Freight and mount them your self.
Balance them yourself on a swivel cone.

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They’re afraid of admitting they have no idea of dealing with vintage cars. They are all young guys who only know the new cars. What size are your tires? Roger Payne said to go with 185R/16. Are they 185/80R16’s??


You first have to decide whether you want to stay “original” and keep cross-ply tires (600 x 16) or change over to Radial tires.
Radial tires are available from various manufacturers and the original size was 185 R 16 which (as Roger P. mentioned) had an aspect ration of 78. Nowadays these are called 185/80 R 16.
I have used (and still use) Radial tires on my XK 140 FHC and XK 120 OTS, the first with Michelin and the latter with Vredestein.

Bob K.

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My Cokers are 6.00 R 16.

Thanks. THAT is what I was looking for. Roger had said "185R 16 and I knew there was a 70 or 80 in there somewhere. I want radials. Now the problem will be finding a place that will install them. The couple I have been to say they won’t work on wire wheels and one had never seen wheels with tubes before. I can’t seem to find a shop in southern CA that will do it.

Call and ask shops that repair/restore vintage cars. They will know the tire shops that have the equipment and experience.

I recently replaced the 30+ year old tires on my new (to me) 1953 XK120FHC.

First off I ordered “185R16 93H TT Firestone Cavalinos” from Coker tire. Luckily for me I thought to check the date codes when they arrived - they shipped me 10 year old tires (effectively end-of-life)! I was pretty mad because I was in a rush, and although they took them as a return with no problems, they wouldn’t expedite shipping.

I did some more shopping and located some " 185SR16 Michelin X" tires at Lucas Classic Tire (Based down your way, so perhaps you could even pick them up and save a buck…). I also checked out the Vredestein, but preferred the look of the Michelin X (and not that I ever plan to drive the car in cold weather, “you never know…”)

For installation, I got a great tip to check out motorcycle shops. They are about the only ones left who have experience with inner tubes, and especially with spoke wheels. You could call one of your local Jaguar shops and see who does their wheels and tires…

So far I am happy with the Michelin X, and I think the look sets off the steel wheel/spat look well, with their relatively small contact patch, but radial performance.


Thanks, I’ll look up Lucas Tires…

tip for do it yer-selfers…as with stiff motorcycle tires…let the tires sit in the sun on a warm day for a while:…then of course the usual slippery lube for bead…and chalk for tube.


And don’t forget to ask for “rim tapes” to protect your inner tube for the spoke nipples of your rims. There was a recent discussion on these.

Bob K.

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Contact Wheel Warehouse in Anaheim:
Wheel Warehouse - Since 1979 - Orange County - Wheels Rims Tires Suspension
Ask for Paul Wojdat. They just installed 185s on my wire wheels (TR4A) incl rim tape and tubes.

Is simply using very soapy water still the preferred expedient for bead lubrication - been ages since I have fitted my own tube and tyres, which once upon-a-time was a home garage activity…
Situation in Australia is also getting difficult, but varies State to State based on local rules/regulations… Some of the big-chain tyre stores will no longer fit tubes, with all sorts of lame excuses such as liability if they pinch/damage a tube; whilst others still happy to do so… But another problem is all shops in the ACT will no longer fit tyres over 10 years old, again based on a lame excuse of age being an arbitrary determinant of the safety or not of a tyre, regardless of real condition of tyre… (A 10 year old tyre can be perfectly sound and safe, whereas a one year old tyre may have had internal structural damage, such as staking or sharp pot-hole/kerb damage). Anyway, I will be checking this out locally over the next week…
I have six exc/original painted 54 spoke wire wheels for my XK140 that I am looking into relative merits of having POWDER COATED versus PAINTED (happy to hear comments). So my sixth wheel I am playing with, and getting powder coated now in a colour that is an excellent, but not exact match of the colour I intend painting the XK140. So I want to see how successful or otherwise powder coating is for a 54 spoke wire wheel, but also want to see the colour match effect of a spoked-wheel not quite right colour match surrounded by a black tyre will look against the body colour of flat vertical front and rear wheel arch panels, given relative very different surfaces. If need be I can get a special order exact colour match powder-coat made up, but there is a minimum volume order of AUD$2000 just for the ‘special colour’, relative to choosing any of the ‘standard’ range of colours (2-3000 standard colours available).
But then I propose fitting a visually near perfect, unused, 1950s MICHELIN X 6.00 - 16 tyre (note in the 1950s radial tyres were only made by Michelin, so no yet agreed convention on how to mark tyre sixes, that was introduced in the early 1960s where it was agreed width of cross-ply (bias ply) tyres would remain to be shown in inches - thus 6.00 - and radial tyres were to be shown in metric mm with the letter R following - thus 185R). But as above, subject to what I can sort out over the next week regarding fitting my freshly powder coated 54 spoke wheel (due to pick up mid-next week), fit with a new RIM BAND (already purchased in six - on line in Australia), decide whether to refit 1950s Michelin Tube or a new tube just purchased in - on line in Australia, but both have correct large diameter valve stem, and then fit my 1950s MICHELIN X, I am expecting to have to do it myself in the garage, given local rules about 10+ year old tyres, compounded by attitude to Tubes…
I dont intend actually ever ‘using’ this restored 54 spoke wheel with its 70+ year old Michelin X tyre fitted, but merely keep it as a garage-wall museum exhibit - and yes, I will fit a NOS Schrader Valve Cap (made in UK of course, and not the virtually identical made in Australia or made in USA variant.

Anyway what I learn from this exercise will determine what I intend doing for the other five 54 spoke wheels, that will be after painting or powder coating, be fitted with new Rim Bands (already have), new Tubes (can easily get five more) and of course new Tyres (no decisions yet, but I am leaning towards the current classic-reproduction MICHELIN X that is only made with the far more familiar ‘stop’ tread pattern, rather than the 1950s MICHELIN X that in the 6.00 - 16 size was only made with the alternate SDS tread pattern - see a page out of a 1958 Michelin brochure that I have in my collection…note the two different tread patterns and sizes available in each pattern, and note back in 1958 Michelin used inch widths for inch-diameter rims, and metric widths for metric-diameter rims (as used by most French and many European car brands)

Anyway - several issues raised/rambled on about - but keeps you amused when Covid keeps restricting travel and other activities…

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Great, I’ll call them tomorrow. Thanks.

Out of stock and no idea when will get more.


Regarding your question about powder coating.
I obtained very good results with powder coated original 54 spoke rims (that had first been checked for any loose spokes) These wheels had been (lightly) sand blasted to remove any remaining corrosion and getting a good “key” for the next layers, then coated with a thin “primer” coating after which the (thicker) final colour is applied. I haven’t had any problems with the powder coated wheels over at least a decade under “normal use”. I also have the impression that cleaning these wheels is easier than painted wheels, although in this respect nothing beats chromed wire wheels.

In the past I had them coated in “Dunlop grey” but now I went for a colour as close as possible to my red interior. See pics.

Bob K.

another idea for shops which we can use.

the tire shop I use does a lot of truck and off-road machinery tires. They do a lot of passenger vehicle tires as well. Yes the proprietor is a gruff old guy with all Grey hair.

Anyway, these guys work with tubes pretty regularly, and seemed to have no problems with my wire wheels. They have a wide variety of balancing equipment and adapters. I often see other old BRitish cars there for tire service.