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Replacement tyres for the RV8
Peter Wallis (Nightfire Red 2178) from Hampshire bought a reimported RV8 and shortly after he contacted the V8 Register for information on replacement tyres. As most RV8s seem to be low mileage vehicles, the topic of replacement tyres had not been covered in the RV8 Workshop Notes series, so a request for members' views on tyres was sent out by email and a message posted on the V8 website Bulletin Board. This note is a summary of the feedback received from our RV8 members. Subsequent comments and updates from members are added at the foot of this note. (Nov 02)

For most RV8 enthusiasts their experience of tyres is limited to the initial set fitted to their RV8 as the original equipment. Until recently only a few members with an RV8 that has knocked up a substantial mileage will have had to face the decision of which tyre they should fit as a replacement. From the feedback from RV8 members, it is clear that most RV8s have done very modest mileages and a significant proportion, particularly some of the cars returning from Japan, have done exceptionally low mileages indeed. The recent query from Peter Wallis highlighted the lack of information and stimulated some research. So we contacted our members by email and posted a message on the Bulletin Board on the V8 website for their views.

The results from the survey (in November 2002) are interesting. Just over 60% of members are still running their RV8 on the original set of Michelin Pilote HX (205/65 ZR 15), 30% have fitted a Michelin replacement and only 10% have used another make of tyre as a replacement. Over 80% of the members are satisfied with their Michelins (whether the originals or replacements) but the 10% who have chosen another make as a replacement seem content with their choice. Significantly 10% were not happy with Michelins and almost to a man (and woman in one case) they are the members who have chosen another brand. So those not happy with Michelins have not just let it fester, they have done something about it!

So what can we glean from RV8 members' reports on tyres and their experience of other brands and specifications of tyres as suitable replacements for the RV8.

Bill Ratcliffe (Caribbean Blue 0437) in Sussex found "the original Pilotes were untrustworthy in wet conditions. Advice from a tyre specialist was that the original Michelin Pilotes have been discontinued, if old stock can be found they will cost over £130 each, and the 150mph continuous speed rating is not necessary for an RV8 in the UK so choose a lower speed rating - but get your insurer's approval to the specification of the proposed replacement tyre before fitting. My insurance company approved Michelin Pilote Primacy 205/65 VR 15 replacement tyres costing £80.72 each including VAT. The result is superb traction and road holding, especially in the wet, and much lighter steering." His supplier was ATS Euromaster at Horsham in Sussex (tel: 01403 251736).

Roger Parker (the well V8 Conversions enthusiast) feels "the main issue on tyres is that many of the original Pilotes may not be showing age related cracks in the sidewalls, but the tread compound will have by now have changed subtly from its original make up and the result is often a less grippy and harder compound. This often manifests itself in a notably poorer wet weather performance and especially a tendency for the rear end to break away with little provocation. This condition is something that affects very many classic cars which do not do many miles and whose tyres will never wear out. The power of the V8 engined MGs though highlight the shortcomings so much earlier though!

It is perhaps something to consider that tyres are changed on a time expired basis - say every 8 to 10 years and maybe sooner for best road grip. If the tyres are not changed, the tyres still work but I believe that there is this significant reduction in tyre performance. For me, that justifies a change.

Another aspect to consider is the continuing advancements in tyre technology and the obvious example is to look at the overall ride and handling compromise that is achieved with the 17 inch wheels and ultra low profile tyres offered as an option by Clive Wheatley. This combination is actually much better than I expected and something of a surprise in respect of the common conflicts with ultra low profile tyres and cart sprung axles.

With regard to the 15 inch replacement tyres the market is beginning to become a little thinner as the high performance market is moving to ever lower profiles and larger diameters Only V or higher speed rated tyres should be used and when changing tyres, due consideration should be given to replacing in only complete sets. As to choice of brands I suggest that most of the first line tyre names will provide tyres that will have slightly different characteristics but all will be completely safe - Goodyear, Pirelli, Bridgestone, Michelin, and the other leading brand Certainly Bridgestone tyres have gained a reputation of being the most effective in handling and grip with many cars, including the MGF, and there is every reason to expect that the appropriate fit for the RV8 will supply similar leading edge performance. I have experience of only two tyres on RV8s - the standard Michelin Pilotes fitted as original equipment and an alternative Pirelli P6000. Of the two, the Pirellis work very well."

Dominic Johnson says his original Michelin Pilotes have done 23,000 miles and they have started to show wear. He is not satisfied with their performance and is thinking of fitting a set of Pirelli P6000 tyres based on Malcolm Gammon's recommendation.

David Palmer (Oxford Blue 1123) in Australia says "other RV8 owners here on the Gold Coast MG Car Club have stayed with the original Michelins."

Jim Dolbel (Woodcote Green 1139) in Australia says "the original Michelins are no longer available in Australia and most RV8 enthusiasts here are using the Dunlop Sport D87 205/65 ZR 15 as a good replacement. The Australian Design Rules (ADR) state that all imported vehicles must have new tyres fitted prior to registration. The Dunlops have been chosen as they are a cheaper alternative to the more expensive Michelins."


John Hornabrook (Woodcote Green 1781) in Australia has "fitted a Michelin 205/65 HR 15 MXV/E with a tread pattern similar to the original tyre as the original Michelins are NLA in Australia. The "E" designates it has an energy rating that satisfies the green lobby out here!"

Jim Rudgley (Woodcote 0696) in Bedfordshire reported shortly after buying his reimported RV8, that an eagle-eyed tyre specialist spotted his original Michelins had splits in their side walls. It seems the splits had been caused by lengthy storage of a batch of eight RV8s held by a speculator hoping to make a killing. Jim had a set of Dunlop 205/65 Z15s fitted on the recommendation of his local tyre expert.

Al Barnett (BRG 1839) from Luxembourg says he is on his second set of Michelin Pilotes 205 65 ZR 15s. He finds the wear rate very low and replaced them at 30,000 miles more because of age than tread depth. Roger Parker mentioned that the tread compound changes subtly over time and is often less grippy and harder as they age. He suggests that changing tyres on a time expired basis, say every 8 to 10 years, should be considered for best road grip.

Ray Lewis (Woodcote Green 1802) is still with his original Michelin Pilotes but has heard the Pirelli P6000 is good for wet conditions and the Goodyear NCT is good for wear. He indicates they should be available at £93 each.

Peter James (Woodcote Green 1022) has fitted Continentals, replacing the Yokohama 215/60s upon which the RV8 came back from Japan - presumably they were fitted by the Japanese owner. The Continentals were £127 for a pair including balancing.

Paul Wiley (Tartan Red 4223) from Surrey posted a message on the Bulletin Board saying he uses Goodyear Eagles 195/60 15 V on his MGBV8 Roadster Conversion and is satisfied with wear so far and finds them excellent in the wet. He recommends Micheldever Tyres in Hampshire who have all the top brands and very good prices. He also says he has found a useful website with tyre information:
www.tyres-online.co.uk/tyretest/tests.asp

Peter Ellis (Oxford Blue 1343) from Lincolnshire has fitted Goodyear Eagle NCT5 205/65R 15 W rated (up to 168mph!) tyres as replacements for the original Pilotes and is satisfied with them. He is not aware of any other tyre with easy availability.

John Wilson (Le Mans Green 0376) from Kent replied to the RV8 tyres survey saying "my 1993 car had the original Michelin tyres until recently. While they were only half worn at 32,000 miles, the tread was so hard you couldn't mark the rubber with a thumbnail. I tried to get F1s on recommendation but they were not immediately available so I fitted a set of Pirelli P6000 W rating. They transformed the RV8 in terms of the ride. Before it jarred over minor bumps in the road which I had put down to hardened bushes or stiff shock absorbers or to the suspension design. But now the car glides over bumps - relatively speaking! - so I wonder how many RV8 owners have replaced suspension parts when all that was required were new tyres. I have not yet tried the new tyres on a track but suspect they will not break away as the Michelins on a wet surface."

Tony Merrygold (Woodcote Green 0551) from Warwickshire, who runs The Open Road (a classic car hire business), noted he still has the original tyres and as there is plenty of life in them is waiting a little longer until they need replacing. He had read various articles on the RV8 and had seen that most of them had said the ride was harsh, so he was not worried. However one thing Tony did do shortly after purchasing his RV8, was to check the tyre pressures and found they were all around 28 to 30 psi. So he dropped them to the recommended values and this made a great improvement.

Update in July 2003
Peter Kilmister (Woodcote Green 0320)
from Hampshire noted in a posting on the V8 Website Bulletin Board that "for several months I have been considering new tyres for my RV8 as she still has the original Michelin boots after 27,000 miles. An MOT last week confirmed that the time had come so this morning I contacted Micheldever Tyres (at Micheldever, between Basingstoke and Winchester) and they booked me in for their premium service. Never mind the queue of more than thirty cars, with the premium service I just drove in! They handled my pride and joy with kid gloves and I drove away with a bill that amounts to two years' vehicle excise duty and a car that now handles like a dream. The tracking is sorted, the wheels have been cleaned and balanced and I have four new Goodyear tyres. I recommend Micheldever Tyres to everyone - they can be contacted by telephone on 01962 774437 or by email at sales@micheldever.co.uk for details or a booking". The tyre fitted to Peter's RV8 is a Goodyear 205/65R15 NCT5 94W.


Insurance disclosure:
Finally Bill Ratcliffe's good advice of making sure your insurer has approved the replacement tyre must be repeated. Contracts of insurance are based on the insured making a full disclosure of all material facts to the insurer at the inception, during the term of the insurance and upon renewal. If the make and specification of your replacement tyre are different to that originally fitted (and because the original Michelin Pilotes are NLA they will be), you must disclose the make and specification of tyres your propose fitting as a replacement to the insurer before they are fitted. Once they are fitted, the insurer has you over a barrel and your scope for negotiation is far less. Equally if they will not confirm approval of those replacements, your car is off the road until you can find an insurer that will! This is tedious but it is a sad fact that some insurers are becoming very picky over matters like this.


Caution:

This note is simply a report of the views expressed by members who have responded to the enquiry the V8 Register sent out concerning RV8 tyres. It does not represent advice and you should not rely upon the views expressed above. At all times seek the advice of specialist tyre suppliers before selecting, purchasing and fitting any replacement tyres for your RV8. Neither the individual RV8 members mentioned above, the members of the V8 Register Committee and/or the directors and officers of the MG Car Club can accept any responsibility or claims arising from or in connection with this report.


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