Fitting Your Classic with New Tires is A Science

A decade ago, tricking out your restored classic with oversized tires is a somewhat underground, niche decision truly appreciated only by a select breed of auto-enthusiast. Now, these are modern times for modern restorers and the upsized tire aesthetic is on fire among even mainstream car buyers.

The Science of Fitting New Tires

This is a double-edged sword, because fitting your classic with new tires is a science – adjusting the size of your tire will change a lot more than just the look of your vehicle. To say the wheels are the most important piece of an automobile is almost laughably obvious. A swath of important functions flow through them including brake functionality, turning radius, rate of acceleration, traction and a whole lot more. If you’re not careful, your tire “upgrade” can become a downgrade.

Project C10 Tech Tip – Fitting the Wheels & Tires

Project C10’s Rick Drewry and the team deliberate over a variety of color and size options before settling on grey 22×9 tires for the front of our C10 and 22x11s in the rear. “It took us a while to find the wheels that we actually really liked,” Rick says. “Obviously, there’s a lot to choose from, but we found these that we thought really matched the theme of the truck we’re doing.”

Why The Wider Rear Tires?

You’ll notice the rear tires are wider. It helps utilize the torque and acceleration from the rear wheel drive by providing more contact with the road for better traction. Often sportscar collectors will use the same logic when choosing wider front tires in their front wheel drive cars – the wider wheels on drag racers are a great example.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

While large tires are the ideal choice for our C10, bigger isn’t always better. As Rick points out, “It was about as large as a wheel and tire combination that we can get and still be drivable.” In most cases, there’s a sweet spot for design, traction and aesthetic. Just like increasing the width of your tires boosts traction with additional surface contact with the road, so does a height increase because it also makes the tire longer. This can be easier to achieve in larger trucks with extra room in the wheel well although it could become problematic with smaller cars. Another great tip: The industry standard is to add an inch when oversizing tires, and in a lot of cases, two or three inches can be added safely.

Exactly What We Envisioned, With A Little Extra

The Project C10 team wants to hide the extended width of the tires in the rear, so they split the wheel hubs and add a five-inch section to each side. The bonus for doing this? We can install even wider tires in the future if we want. “But right now it’s got a great stance,” Rick says. “Enough of it is hidden. It sits low enough that it’s really got a good look and it really matches the rendering when we first started on the truck. It turned out exactly how we envisioned it once the wheels and tires got on.”

Do Your Research

There can be plenty of unintended negative consequences that could make your tire upgrade perform like a downgrade, such as easier hydroplaning with some vehicles, vulnerable rims and more. Fortunately, there are plenty of proven combinations for every sort of vehicle and you can ask advice from your mechanic, visit online forums or ask the Project C10 Truck Community. Get more information below.

Join the Project C10 Truck Community

Project C10, powered by American Modern, is an original video series from Classic Auto Insurance that chronicles the restoration of a 1965 Chevy C10 truck to a beautiful restomod worthy of car show display. Stay up-to-date with Project C10 by subscribing to Classic Auto’s YouTube Channel, following us on Instagram and visiting our C10 Restoration page on ClassicIns.com, where you’ll enjoy step-by-step episodes, project-specific Tech Tips and behind-the-scenes articles that give you an inside look into what it takes to restore a classic collectible like a Chevy C10 truck.