Wheel and Tire fit issues

This is an old car. The original wheels were 15 inch diameter and four inches wide; it came from the factory with 6.00x15 or "heavy duty" 6.50x15's. The closest metric tire size is 185/70-R15, which are simply no longer available.

Though I originally wanted to stick with the skinny tire look, I fell into the modern habit of putting on the fattest rubber I could fit. I'm glad I did, actually; performance, safety, cost, looks, are all easier. The engine and gearing on this car have margins thin enough that I wanted to keep the original diameter of 26", and I relented on styling, going with a 1960's performance look, a bit humurous given the gutless motor, but leavened with a 60's euro-rallye look.

I asked for, and got, "the smallest 26 inch tire with white letters" -- BF Goodrich Radial T/As, 215/65-R15's.

The old wheels clearly were not going to work, and old wheels tend to be out of round, dents and dings from decades of bumping curbs and potholes. Old steel wheels tend to get rusty around the bead and therefore leak. Pretty much every car now gets brand new wheels (steel or otherwise) right from the start. (I had my Hornet's OEM 14x5 steelies trued, media blasted and powder coated white; while it worked out great that cost more than brand new, custom, steel wheels.

The original steel wheels backspacing is about 3.25". 15" diameter is required to clear the ends of the steering arms. The shape of the center section is very odd, an old Nash design, and it did not fit the 9x2.5" Gremlin brakes I'd added.

I very carefully measured everything -- clearances are very tight in this car! -- and worked out that Wheel Vintique 15x6 smoothies would work. As you can see from the photos, it's about as tight as it can get!

Here's what fit:

Wheel Wheel Vintiques Bare Steel Smoothies 15x6", 5x4.5 pattern, 3.625" backspacing part #12-5612358
Tire BF Goodrich White letter Radial T/A size 215/65-R15