Replacement tyres for MGV8s
Replacement tyres for a classic sportscar like the MGBGTV8 and MG RV8 has been a topic often discussed by V8 enthusiasts. This note provides links to comments from several V8 Bulletin Board threads on the topic. (26.6.09)

V8BB thread started by Andrew Jeyarajah on 26.3.09
I need to replace all four tyres on my RV8 and after having read the tyre survey and previous threads on the subject i decided to try and source the Michelin Pilot Primacy. Unfortunately this no longer seems to be available (at least not from the sources I've tried! Would anyone be able to recommend a Michelin alternative or other please? I did try for the Goodyear excellence also, but decided against due to the reports I read regarding poor wear of the tyre. I'm changing my tyres just due to the age, poor handling etc. my annual mileage is approx 4,000.

Al Barnett responded: A month ago I fitted a set of Continental Premium Contact 2 tyres to my RV8. I am very pleased with the result as the ride is much improved and the handling seems fine. Incidentally 'Which? Magazine' has just published a tyre review and the Continentals came top in the two categories tested. I purchased the tyres via internet dealer Black Circles and the whole process worked very smoothly including the fitting by their local agent. Don't forget you can have a look at the V8 Register tyre survey.
V8 replacement tyre survey

Bryan Moyse added: Glad to hear your report on the Continentals, I have just bought a set of the same tyres and it is good to now they are a success as I have yet to get them back on the car. Doing some other work while I have it on stands. I will look forward to the better ride!

Terry Starkey added: I just had a look at the Michelin website and the Primacy still exists. Whatsmore, they tell you how you can contact them for advice. I would have thought any decent tyre outlet would 'steer you in the right direction'. I have Primacy on my RV8 and they are superb. They suit it perfectly.

Mike Lane added: I have previously and regularly used Continentals on my Rover 75, then MG ZT and later on my present ZT-T and they have performed very well, although as a high mileage business user, I now use the much cheaper and overall more cost effective Maxxis tyres (purchased and fitted locally) that have a firm grip together with a very much lower wear characteristic, whilst still maintaining the excellent acceleration and road holding performance of which the car is capable, on a daily basis!

I have not had to look at this brand yet for the RV8, as I have excellent Yokohama A300s, which are now getting on for 4 years old and showing very little signs of wear (in fact, I've just checked them and they still look like new) and I travel in excess of 6,000 quite quick and pleasurable miles every year. They are superb and have a very positive and stable feel about them. They hold the road really well, especially in the wet and since changing to this new set of them, I have not lost the back end once!

Incidentally, I have previously used Micheldever Tyres on a regular basis (as noted in the V8 wesite tyre survey and just down the A303 from my Andover home) as their prices have always been attractive but interestingly, I’ve now found that some other local suppliers are keen to match or better their prices! Worth shopping around?

Bill Cole added: My tyres are 11 years old and in bad need of replacing but not from wear. My local tyre fitter recomends I use budget Maxxis tyres which he says are avaliable in the size and he has fitted them on another RV8. The word budget is my problem - does this mean inferior or cheap and being that they might be on the car for many years do you think they will be cost effective over the years? My tyre fitter swears by them.

Rob Collier responded: With all due respect, your tyre fitter doesn't drive your car as you do and it is what you are happy with yourself. Personally I would not be happy with budget tyres on an RV8 which is a 3.9 litre high performance car without the benefit of ABS, traction control etc. My advice would be to buy the best tyres you could afford. As far as I'm concerned there are no shortcuts where safety related items such as tyres, brakes and shock absorbers are concerned.

Andrew Jeyarajah replied: Thank you all for your help and advice, very much appreciated!

Terry - do you have the exact link for the Michelin website where they mention the tyres please? I had a look but can't seem to find the relevant link. If I don't have any luck then I'll go for the Continental Premium Contact 2 I think (thanks Al & Brian).

Bill - I'd agree with Rob, stay clear of the budget tyres. From experience of them on other cars, they seem to wear quicker so hence you'll be replacing them sooner than you think (depending on your mileage of course).

Stuart Mumby added: I'd just like to endorse Al's recommendation of Black Circle. I bought two tyres for my Jaguar in December and the service from them and their fitting agent was excellent.

Geoff King noted: I have no knowledge of Maxxis tyres but here are a couple of quotes - “A Maxxis high performance tyre has scooped second overall in a comprehensive group test ...” “A Maxxis tyre can withstand, endure and surpass everything…” Do your homework and don’t just look at manufacturers; you need to look at the type of tyre. For instance a Goodyear Eagle F1 is not the same as a Goodyear Eagle NCT and will perform completely differently and it is quite possible that a budget performance tyre will provide superior grip to a tyre from a premium manufacturer that has been designed for long life.

Incidentally, Micheldever Tyres has changed hands since I recommended them and it would appear their prices have lost their competitive edge - shop around and consider mail order from say black circle or mytyres with fitting by your local tyre fitter.

Victor Smith added: When I changed the tyres on my MGBGTV8 last May I recalled Toyo tyres had been recommended by a member on the V8BB but found they did not have a sufficient speed rating for the 175/80 R14 88H size I needed so had to abandon the idea of fitting that brand. I then browsed the latest tyre reviews in the Which? magazine and found Continental Premium Contact 2 tyres came out very well. The review tested two popular tyre sizes for modern cars - 185/60 R14 H and 205/55 R16 W - and the chart of detailed results indicated good wet and dry grip and braking ratings for the Continentals.

I found the Continental Contact 2 tyre was available in a 175/80 R14 88H size with the correct speed rating for my MGBGTV8 and decided to go for a set. In doing so I had to trust the qualities and key performance features of the Continental tyres shown by the Which? magazine report would apply to a different tyre size. My thinking was that the Continentals had come out top in both sizes tested and by a reasonable margin, so it was reasonable to assume that a similar performance would be provided by the tyres I intended fitting to my V8. Now I know fellow members with a knowledge of tyre and vehicle engineering may respond and say that assumption is not one you can necessarily rely on, but that was my thinking faced with a replacement choice.

The good wet and dry grip and braking performance indicated by the test results were welcome features and even if the softer rubber of the Continentals resulted in greater wear than the several sets of Michelins I had run on for the previous 20 years, then that was not going to be an issue with a low mileage classic car because the age effect would arrive at 7 to 8 years well before wear became an issue.

As I drove off on the new tyres I recall a different feel to both the ride and handling which was welcome in many ways – a softer ride in terms of less thump as the wheels rode bumps and manhole covers in the road and a different feel in the corners. Of course the problem for a classic car enthusiast buying a new set of tyres every 7 to 8 years, or possibly slightly longer, is the opportunity of back to back tests does not arise. Even comparing the new tyres with the partially worn but aged tyres that they have just replaced is not a fair comparison because the ageing effect on the rubber of the old tyres would mean the ride and handling were reaching a stage where they were a long way from that of a new set of the same brand. So referring to the back to back test results of a consumer association like Which? is, I feel, helpful.

Well in the recent April 2009 issue of Which? there is an update test of tyres and again Continental Premium Contact 2 tyres come out overall top in both tyre sizes. The test summaries are:

205/55 R16 W
Continental Premium Contact 2 tyres offer first-rate handling on dry roads, good wet and dry braking and good resistance to aquaplaning in bends and on straight roads. It’s around average for noise, so motorway cruising at speed shouldn’t be too much of a strain. The rating was 69% and the next tyres were Michelin Primacy HP (68%), Uniroyal RainSport2 (68%) and Bridgestone Tutanza ER300 (67%). Prices mentioned were £82, £90, £67 and £81 respectively.

185/60 R14 H

Continental Premium Contact 2 tyres provide excellent handling on dry roads, good wet and dry braking, and decent wet grip in bends and on straight roads. Rolling resistance is around average. It’s slightly noisier than some of the tyres tested but not intrusive. The rating was 73% and the next tyres were Bridgestone Turanza ER300 (72%), Kumho Solus KH17 (67%) and Uniroyal Rain Expert (67%). Prices mentioned were £58, £59, £43 and £46 respectively.

After nearly 12 months with the Continentals I have to say I am very pleased with them.
Look back at fellow members' views

V8BB thread started by Andrew Jeyarajah on 26.3.09

V8BB thread started by Matt Jones on 9.11.08

V8BB thread started by Dennis Wharf on 16.5.08

Tyre sidewall markings explained
Understanding the markings on the sidewalls
of tyres will help you to choose the right tyres
for your car. Here’s a guide to those sidewall
markings using a 175/80 R14 88H tyre as an
example. It was published in Safety Fast! in August 2008. More

Caution with replacement tyres
Howard Gosling (Quicksilver 3001 and Flamenco Red 4001) from Dorset released a caution in a letter to Safety Fast! in January 2009. More

Mike Taylor added: I have the Continental Premium Tyres, having done 2500 miles on a set, I would not consider any other tyre, they are excellent in all respects, it is false economy to buy cheap . . buy the best, your life may depend on it.

Terry Starkey's contribution was clear: NEVER, EVER buy budget tyres, espcially for an RV8. Always buy a good make.

Kev Lillywhite noted: I must say that I have to disagree with people who say never trust budget tyres it’s a safety item, but all tyres are constructed to the same standards and anything claimed above that standard is just down to the manufacturer's say so. Many so-called budget brands are in fact made by the major tyre manufacturers but sold as budget brands to keep market share. The major manufacturers also realise that to the fashion conscious young car buyer to have the latest tread pattern is as important as the latest phone and the “budget” tyre is just last years tread pattern.

I have in a previous incarnation been a Mercedes owner and due to an unfortunate incident required two tyres in an emergency. All I could get in the correct size were then unknown “nang kang” tyres I was dubious to say the least but had no choice, but was surprised to say the least they proved to be longer lasting, had more grip both wet and dry and were quieter than the Pirellis fitted as standard. When I got home I bought two more and never looked back, and at only £40 a corner fitted what a bargain. As an aside I have also been bitterly disappointed by some expensive “quality” brands and could not afford to changes them due to the price!

Rob Collier responded: I don't disagree with anything you say and I'm sure that there are some good budget tyres out there. I do have my own reservations about using budget tyres on a high performance car like the RV8. There may be exceptions however when it comes to price, like most things you buy you generally get what you pay for.

Kev Lillywhite noted: The Merc had more power than the RV8 and weighed over 2 tons. I think the only thing you get with expensive tyres is an empty bank account and and a well known name.

Rob Collier provided some useful information: Hers a copy of Autocar Tyre Test on Budget Tyre, needlest to say I have Continentals fitted to my RV8!

"Performance Autocar's latest tyre test reports on budget tyres - and how they perform compared to a premium Continental. Unsurprisingly, they don't compare well. The test focuses on wet weather handling and tests five of the leading budget brands: GT Radial, Linglong, Nankang, Triangle and Wanli.

The magazine tested wet handling and braking, dry handling and braking and aquaplaning, plus a high-speed test at the Contidrom test centre in Hannover. Senior tester Jamie Corstorphine summed up with: “We expected the bargain tyres in this test to fall short of the Continental, but we were not prepared for just how poorly some performed."

The results are shocking. To get the full test results you'll need to buy Autocar this month (March 2009) , but the results from the wet braking speak for themselves:
Continental: 31.7 metres
Nankang: 33.8 metres
GT Radial: 35.8 metres
Wanli, Triangle and Linglongs: 40.2 metres

The Linglong equipped VW Golf that Autocar used for its tests was still doing 27.8mph at the point where it had stopped on the Continentals. Overall the Continentals easily won, scoring top marks in all but one test. A consistent performance earned the GT Radials second place, but a wet lap time 3.4sec adrift of the Continentals indicated just how far even it falls short.

Given the average rain fall in the UK, it's well worth thinking twice before fitting super-budget tyres on your vehicle. If you save £75 fitting four budget tyres, you only save 0.05 pence a mile over a 12,000 mile life of the tyre. With the risk of an expensive insurance excess and loaded premium for the next 5 years, not to mention what could happen in a worse case scenario, is it really worth it?'

Victor Smith added some information: Test data carried out by a reputable consumer association or by or for a specialist magazine does provide factual information as a basis for an enthusiast selecting tyres for a high performance classic sportscar. The information provided by the latest Which? magazine report I have mentioned, and that in the magazine Rob Collier has highlighted, surely shows essential characteristics like dry and wet grip and braking do vary by a substantial margin which is material in terms of safety.

If cost is an overriding factor, then in the case of the MGBGTV8 choosing either the 3rd or 4th best tyre with a 67% score compared with 73% for the Continentals would have saved £15 (£58 compared with £43) a tyre or £60 for a set of four. The Khumo Solus KH17 at £43 got the Which? Money Saver award but it had less wet grip on a bend than the Continental, the same wet braking and slightly less dry braking performance. The Maxxis MA-V1 Surpasa at only £40 scored 51% and the Wanli S1032 M+S at £37 scored a very low 10% with very low wet and dry braking scores. The Wanli took 67.3 metres to brake on wet concrete from 50mph compared with the best performing tyre which took 43.8 metres. That's "nearly the length of three buses" which is a serious variance which clearly is a safety factor, particularly with a classic without ABS.

Has Kev got any test data for wet and dry braking and wet corner grip for the Nang Kang tyres he mentioned or other budget tyres he has used?

Kev Lillywhite responded: No, I don’t have any test data for the tyres I mentioned but if we only sent in independently verifiable reports the bulletin board would be very short on content! I was merely passing on my personal experiences and as I have said the nang kangs felt much safer than the Pirellis especially at the breakaway point they were much more predictable. Tyre grip also varies a lot with tyre profile and width so what may be a brilliant tyre on one car does not mean it will do so well on another. The Golf mentioned in Rob Collier's report has totally different handling characteristics being front wheel drive than the RV8 does. As for the Wanli tyres you mention the M+S (mud & snow) on the name would suggest that they are winter only tyres much favoured on the continent as spares used only during periods of bad weather.

As I have mentioned before not all V8 owners are that well off and tyres are a major outlay. Therefore, cost does come into it as someone who has been made redundant 3 times in 3 years and has just spent the last 5 months on a four day week, I do struggle to keep my V8 on the road. I was just trying to put an alternative view based on personal experience.

Victor Smith replied: Your points are fair as clearly the tyre is only one part of the suspension system which contributes to the road holding and ride. I also accept that taking test results for a different tyre size and tested on a more modern car like a Golf would not necessarilly provde data which you could say with total confidence would apply to an MGBGTV8 or RV8. But I feel there is a reasonable case for looking at the test data and using that to guide your replacement tyre choice for an MGV8. I also accept that cost is a factor too, particularly in recessionary times, so feel your comment on affordability is fair. The Which? tests did highlight the Continental was a tyre which was available at a reasonable price and had the best test score too, so that represented good value for money. Equally the 2nd, 3rd and 4th tyres in the rankings were good too and the lower priced tyres were particularly good value. But it is fair to say those tests did highlight that some "budget" tyres did not show up well in the tests and I really do feel you cannot ignore the wide variance in wet braking distances and wet corner grip shown by those tests.

Bryan Shacklady added: The importance of negotiation should never be forgotten when dealing with items like tyres and exhausts, too. Many tyre and exhaust places have price matching guarantees, and if you happen across somewhere that needs to get rid of a batch of Continental or Michelin for some reason (space, older stock etc), bargains can occasionally be had.
I assume no-one is advocating remoulds?

Rob Collier ended the thread with: Kev makes a good point in that the descision which tyres to choose is a made a lot easier where money is no object.
Whatever your budget I think you should buy the best you can afford and as Bryan says, shop around for the best price and haggle!
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