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JPS Esprit Conundrums - Tyres


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There are some existing posts on this topic, but it is perhaps worth a revisit following evolution in the various tyre brand offers.

The different tyre profiles between axles (205/60/VR14 on the front and  205/70/VR14 on the rear – as per the handbook) give early Esprits their unique poise and handling. Yet, the conundrum faced by any S1/S2 owner is how to find a set of tyres that (a) have the correct sizes and profiles, (b) are from a classic brand and (c) have matching tread patterns.

In 1979, there were various choices that met the three criteria and the S1/S2 original equipment (as per the workshop manual) comprised Dunlop SP Super Sports, both front and rear. Roll forward to 2020 and there no longer seems to be a neat solution for early Esprits. The later Esprits have 15 inch rims and do not face the same problem.

While there are today a number of classic alternatives for the S1/S2 rear axle, such as Michelin XWX, Pirelli Cinturato CN36 and Dunlop Sport Classic, none of these brands makes a 205/60/ R14 for the front axle. So what to do?

One school of thought says, stay with classic brands and buy a non-recommended tyre. For example, Longstone Tyres propose a Michelin 195/60 VR14 for the front axle. However, this tyre has a diameter (calculated as: 2 x tread width x profile/100 + 25.4 x rim) of only 590 mm, compared to the recommended tyre which has a diameter of 602 mm, so you would end up with 12 mm less ground clearance (unless you changed the suspension set up).

Another school of thought says, abandon the classic brands and go with budget tyres for the front axle. A previous owner of JPS #40 had settled on Nankang Ultra Sport NS II 205/60 R14 for the front axle. He had then ended up putting the same size Nankangs on the rear axle as well, presumably to satisfy the tread matching criterion.

However, putting the 205/60 R14 with 602 mm diameter on the rear axle, rather than a 205/70 R14 with 643 mm diameter, leads to a 6.4% reduction in gearing. So the revs were 6.4% too high for a given road speed/gear and the speedo was reading 6.4% high.

Based on an AutoBild test from 2018 that put the Dunlop Sport Classic (launched in 2017) ahead of its peers in terms of wet handling, braking and tyre noise, it was not a difficult decision to upgrade the rear axle on JPS #40 to Dunlops. The sizes and profiles are now correct on both axles, and the handling and performance feel improved. The Nankangs are limited to the less critical axle and matching up the tread patterns will have to wait for another day.

Vintage Tyres report that they are in the process of commissioning 205/60 R14 from Avon and hope to have them available later this year. However, it is curious that the marketing wizards at Dunlop/Michelin/Pirelli, have not woken up to the opportunity presented by 205/60 R14 tyres (which of course extends beyond the Esprit). An email to Michelin went unanswered, while the Dunlop Tyre Doctor tantalisingly replied,

“Sadly I am not aware of any plans to make a 205 60 r 14 in the Classic range. Decisions on which tyres may or may not sell are often based on dealer feedback as to what they can commit to sell over the years.”

This all begs the question – how can we Esprit owners give the classic tyre brands and their dealers a wake up call about 205/60 R14?

 

 

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Been running a matched set of Federal SS657 tires in 205/60 14 front and 215/65 14 sizes rear for a few years now. They are H rated for up to 130 mph. The 215/65 14 rear is 0.30 less in diameter of th

There are some existing posts on this topic, but it is perhaps worth a revisit following evolution in the various tyre brand offers. The different tyre profiles between axles (205/60/VR14 on the

My car is still on Goodyear’s all in great shape but so old they will be horrible on the road, mind they hold great pressure and haven’t dropped a pound in the last 5 months. I would definitely b

My car is still on Goodyear’s all in great shape but so old they will be horrible on the road, mind they hold great pressure and haven’t dropped a pound in the last 5 months.

I would definitely be interested in a matching set of alternative tyres, I would really like Goodyear to make them as well 👍🏻
Dave :) 

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Do or do not, there is no try! 

 

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Been running a matched set of Federal SS657 tires in 205/60 14 front and 215/65 14 sizes rear for a few years now. They are H rated for up to 130 mph. The 215/65 14 rear is 0.30 less in diameter of the 205/70 14 original size. 

 

 

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Tyre technology has undoubtedly evolved forward over the many years since Dunlop SP were current. Seems the Chinese brands, like the Koreans before them, have managed to produce altogether satisfactory tyres. Lotus clearly matched diameters to those of brakes in the design and development process which, incidentally, had specified 235/60-14 for the rears until that was determined to be too costly. To suggest that the early Esprit for all its glorious attributes was a conclusively optimised car does not square with the cumulative wisdom found here and elsewhere. All succeeding series sensibly utilised larger rear tyres than front whilst remaining fundamentally the same platform. Were the early cars not a potentially fair match in chassis terms I most certainly would have picked up an SE or higher spec.

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