XK120 Tire recommendation

I am ready to buy tires for my XK120 on steel wheels. I want to ask you for real life feedback and recommendations on tires, below is what I can find, the car is a driver.

Bias ply

  • Coker classic $152
  • Firestone $185
  • BF Goodrich $185
  • Excelsior $167
  • Pirelli Stella Bianca $235
  • General Jet Air $144
  • Lester $165


  • Michelin Pilote Sport $356
  • Coker classic $275
  • Excelsior stahl sport $301


You may wish to add Bridgestone Ecopias to your list of radial alternatives. Many on this Forum are using these on both steel and wire wheeled XK120s. I ran Coker Classic radials for several years, but living as I do in Canada they are a lot more expensive for me to purchase than locally sourced Bridgestones. One thing I was concerned about with the Ecopias is their size (195/80R16) compared to the Cokers (600.16) as far as clearance with the rear spats was concerned. However, I have had them on the car for two years now and have experienced no problems. Also, Coker recommend a minimum psi of 42 for their radials while I CAN RUN THE bRIDGES

sorry! hit the wrong key while trying to edit.

…I can run the Bridgestone’s at 32 psi which makes for a little less harsh ride.



You might add the “standard” Michelin X 185/80 R16 tyre. Unless you want to go racing, this tyre is absolutely perfect for the XK. I’ve been driving them for over 5 years now.
Remember, this tyre type was even available when your XK 120 was new.

Bob K.

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I’ve been very pleased with the Michelin X, too. They make the car somehow feel more poised on the road, and the steering is quite light. Plus, they look just right for the period. My car only indulges in gentle road use, so you might want to think again if more spirited use is a possibility. I’ve heard the Michelin Pilote Sports are better for this - but quite expensive.

I don’t understand that. The Coker website says the maximum load capacity is 1520 lbs @41 psi for the 600R16.

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Radial tires were never fitted to the XK cars. Big concours deduction if you show the car. If not they are great for driving.
Pat H

Thank you all for the info. But what’s the difference between a bias ply and radial in real world driving?

True enough, but who wants to drive on crossplies these days? There will now be a cascade of posts to say how great crossplies are!! The Michelin X came out in the '50s, so I feel they are what an early owner might well have put on their XK back in period.

Principally, less rolling resistance and more flexibility making for a better ride. Also, theoretically better gas mileage, but we all know that is not a consideration. If you want the boy racer feel of being able to kick the rear end out and drift through corners then go for bias ply, however, for the type of driving that I suspect most of us do, frankly, I prefer radials. Another factor to consider is the speed rating of each tyre. As I recall the rating for the Coker Classics would not cover sustained speeds above 90 mph, if that’s an issue.


Ok a completely neutral response here.
The arguments for bias plys are:

  1. You show the car at concours events and don’t want the deduction for non-original tire type.
  2. You want the original driving feel and experience as the car was when it was new.

The arguments for radials are:

  1. You want better handling and maximum speed on the corners.
  2. You want better stopping distance.
  3. You want a quieter ride on the highways and less squeal on the corners.

The arguments for racing tires are:

  1. You spend a lot of time on the race track.
  2. You want people to think you spend a lot of time on the race track.
  3. You are selling the car and want potential buyers to think its a race car.


Made my Sunday!

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Great guidance from you all, thanks. Radials it is!

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Don’t know where you live eho, but you should be aware that the term ‘bias’ ply is unique to USA. The rest of the world use the term ‘cross’ ply.
Don’t know whether Canada uses English or American terminology.

After working for years as a supplier of raw materials to all of the major tire manufacturers I personally believe Michelin makes a superior tire. I will be adding the Michelin X to my 120 but as mentioned previously be aware of the speed rating.

The Coker or Universal re pop of the Pirelli Cinturato !! or.wish this was still made !!

do note that the oft used Vredestein SUMMER Classic…is a SUMMER tire…that does not mean only…that it is not a winter tire for use…read the info…it means it should not even be on the car…inflated…weight on it…moved…in cold temps below about 26F…yup really…

I have a set of radial Blockley’s which replaced my radial Avon’s.
Both are 185/16 and 80 percent so full size and not low profile.

All the radials are smaller diameter than the crossply’s, so the gearing will be lower. There is quite a difference between the smallest radial at 690cm and the original crossply’s at about 710cm. If you work out the maths you can see the difference in gearing.

Also if you fit low profiles like 205/70/16 they make steering heavier and don’t quite look right in the wheel arches.

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Nice to see a current thread on this topic, I’ve been reading thru a lot of very old comments from historic threads. Certainly the emotions don’t change, but the experience has presumably!
My car is not for show, or really that much go! Folks who point out tires that have “only " speed ratings of 80 mph, good on you! I’m not likely to drive too much over 80 kph… in Canada eh.
And my budget is tight…
I’ve been spending too much time on the tiresize.com website where you can type in any tire size and see all the size specifications…
It looked like some 195 tires would be the closest size match to the original tires, but the selection is very limited, and all the tires I found were intended for delivery vans, so they would be very firm and noisy.
I’m now aiming for the Continental Contiprocontact in 215/70 R16. This is a sport car tire unlike many other in this size that are designed for SUVs.
An important thing I discovered along the way is the size data presented is related to the width of the rim that the tire is being mounted on… so for example this tire shows as having an 8.3” width, but that is based on a 6.5" rim. For each .5" change in rim width you get 2/10" change in tire width… so mounting these on a 5.5" rim brings the width down to 7.9", much closer to the 7.5" i believe the original tire would be… or so I believe from my readings…?!
The 205s that others have been using seem to be a reasonable amount larger diameter at 28.3" vs 27.7 of the originals or 27.9 of these 215s…I’d be worried about the larger diameter on the 205s, but other folks seem to be running them without problems…
Maybe over thinking the whole thing…
Any reasons not to buy these 215/70 R16 Continentals?

And to correct myself, my 54 spoke rims are presumably 5" not 5.5". Minimum rim size for the 215/70 R16 Continental Contiprocontacts is 5.5", where as the 205s minimum rim size is 5"… so I guess my choice is 205s not 215s… And the 205s are smaller than the original 27.7 at 27.3 where as I had previously incorrectly stated they are larger at 28.3…