There were many things that Mopar got right during the age of muscle cars, and one was capturing an aggressive, intimidating look and applying that look to their performance models. With eye-popping colors, in-your-face decals, and purposeful scoops and spoiler packages, Mopars of the day were often mistaken as being modified even in stock form. Chrysler did such a good job styling their cars that we often wonder why some owners attempt to better their car's styling with aftermarket components, even though we do appreciate nicely modified Mopar iron. So when we build our own project cars, we tend to favor cars that look stock to the casual observer, but perform better than the factory ever intended. So after considering the wheel and tire options for the '71 Road Runner we've been working on, we decided to order a set of 15-inch Mopar Rallye wheels with Firestone Wide-O-Oval tires from Coker tire.
With so many options available, choosing the wheels and tires for your Mopar can be a daunting task. In our central Florida, location we counted no less than six tire stores in a two-mile stretch of road, and the latest fad seems to be wheel and tire rental stores. And while we generally considered a nice set of lightweight aluminum racing wheels with sticky performance tires to be the right choice for this project, the idea of a factory looking '71 Road Runner that would outrun flashier looking cars (like a certain staff Valiant) in the quarter-mile held a certain appeal. Since the FAST drag cars are running some stout quarter-mile times on their reproduction bias-ply tires, we challenged ourselves to do the same.
Coker Tire and Specialty Wheel offer nearly every combination of brand-new, reproduction factory wheels and tires, including rims that are wider than the Chrysler Corporation's offerings of the time. A check of Coker Tire's website showed their wide variety of wheels and tires, and we quickly located the combination we wanted for our Plymouth. As an original 383/three-speed car, our Road Runner would have been equipped with 14-inch steel or Rallye wheels from the factory, and performance bias-ply tires. Since our goal was to duplicate the factory look, we chose a set of 15-inch Rallye Wheels for our car, along with Firestone Wide-O-Oval bias-ply tires. Although the Mopar Rallye wheels were introduced on B-Bodies a year prior to 1971, they arguably are one of the best looking wheels for a '71 and up B-body. Because we were only interested in the appearance of a factory look and not actual factory equipment, we chose to stagger the wheel and tires sizes from front to rear.
Up front, we chose 15-inch diameter Rallye wheels with a 7-inch rim width, combined with F70-15 inch bias-ply tires. The F70s have an overall diameter of 26.9 inches, a section width (bulge to bulge) of 8.3 inches and 6.5 inches of tread. In the rear we chose the same 15-inch diameter wheels, but with a wider 8-inch rim width, and chose slightly larger G70-15 tires. As some of the largest available factory tires of their time, our rear selections offer a 27.9-inch diameter, 8.5-inch section width, and 6.7 inches of tread. Comparatively, these tires are nowhere close to modern performance car tires, but consider that we're talking about 40-year-old technology, and also remember that though bias-ply tires aren't known for their superior handling, there was a big reason that most muscle cars were equipped with bias-ply tires from the factory.
1 The right wheels and tires...
1 The right wheels and tires can make your car look great, and conversely, the wrong combination can ruin the look of your Mopar. The old-school slotted aluminum rims on our ’71 Road Runner were ok to get the car rolling, but in our opinion, don’t really match the “fuselage” body style of this model.
2 Coker tire and Specialty...
2 Coker tire and Specialty Wheel had just what we had needed for our Road Runner, and likely have the wheels and tires you need for any nostalgia application. As a staple of the industry, Coker Tire prides themselves on providing the highest quality products, reproducing nearly all popular Mopar wheels in their Specialty Wheel line as well as manufacturing nostalgic tires including race tires. After a quick visit to the Coker Tire website, we ordered our tires, wheels, and accessories as a set. With their wheel and tire combo package, our tires were mounted, balanced, and nitrogen filled by a Coker Tire professional, not the guy at the tire store right out of tech school.
3 All of the parts from Coker...
3 All of the parts from Coker were packaged in a way to prevent damage, ensuring our wheels and tires would look their best when installed. We chose the charcoal colored center caps on Coker’s website, as we felt that these would be a nice accent to the black stripes and spoilers on our Winchester Gray Road Runner.