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Bias ply vs. Radial tires

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  • Bias ply vs. Radial tires

    I have a 1950 Champion Starlight coupe that needs tires. I was told that the 1950 Champion had a suspension that wouldn't allow for radial tires and that I would have to run Bias Ply tires. Does anyone know why or if this is true?

  • #2
    You have been listening to the wrong sources! It would interesting to know who and on what basis your informant based his conclusion. We have been running radials on Mary's 1950 Champion Starlight coupe for going on fifteen years. I'm here to give two thumbs up on radials on a 1950.

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    • #3
      Whoever told you that was full of baloney.

      "I was told" and "Somebody said that" are sources for a lot of misleading and downright wrong information. Many people speak authoritatively on subjects they would be better off being silent about.

      Your car will run down the road much better, straighter, and with less wandering if you put radial tires on it. The only down side is that steering effort might be higher while parallel parking.

      Make sure you get the tallest aspect ratio tires = 75. The bias ply tires were around 83, so the modern 75 is the closest around. You can also buy wide whitewall radial tires that look like bias ply. Several of the antique tire dealers/manufacturers carry them.
      Last edited by RadioRoy; 03-12-2021, 07:31 AM.
      RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

      17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
      10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
      10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
      4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
      5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
      56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
      60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

      Comment


      • #4
        I have used radial tires on my 1947 Champion for roughly 25 years. They ride and handle so much better than bias ply!

        There are a couple of concerns when using radials. First, use tires with a profile reasonably similar to the original 5:50-15s. Do not go with wide tires. I am using 185R65/15 tires at present. Secondly, make sure the wheels are in excellent condition with no cracks or rust.
        Bill Jarvis

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        • #5
          Radials, namely the popular Hankook 724, lack the sidewall structure of bias ply tires. To get them to “work right”, keep the pressure on the high side, 30-32 lbs. Low pressures, 24 lbs or so, will give you sloppy handling. That may be the reason they weren’t advised for your car.

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          • #6
            My GTs have both styles. Each has a different feel, but I wouldn't characterize one as better or worse. Radials are more comfortable and grippy. Bias plys are (in my experience) more stylish and longer lasting.

            The forces exerted with higher grip of radials will accentuate the condition of your suspension. My Wagonaire (driven with MUCH spirit) wore out the unrestored lower control arm bushings within a year of switching from bias-plys to radials. Granted, in my 20s with a well-planted wagon and a fresh 289, I regularly used all the grip available.
            Andy
            62 GT

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            • #7
              The very first radial tires I ever saw were when my (rich) uncle bought Michelin’s to go on his brand new 1967 Ford Galaxie. First thing I thought was ........those tires look almost flat!

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              • #8
                Agree with all above, particularly Roy’s post #3.

                When I brought home my 62 Champ 1/2 ton last year, I couldn’t wait to get rid of the radials and install the BF Goodrich 6.70-15 w/walls from Coker. It was honestly like getting power steering immediately. So much nicer to drive and the ride is perfect.

                Radials may handle better and run cooler but they inherently have large contact patches with the ground. And this truck was a bear to steer when backing up or parking with those radials onboard.

                On the other hand, my 59 Lark project came with new 205/75R15’s and they turn easily with the lower curb weight of a car vs truck. These, I’ll be keeping for now, even if they correspond to a 6.70-15 instead of the 5.90 or 6.40-15 the Lark should have. A bit fat.

                N.b.: your era of Champion would take a 165/75 to 195/75R15 nicely, as it’s close to the 5.90 to 6.40-15 range it was born with.

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                • #9
                  If you decide to go with radials, and that would be my preference, then it's highly recommended to switch your old wheels to more modern wheels designed for radials. I just recently did that on my Champ truck. I think many have used Crown Vic wheels or even Mopars, but others can speak to that as I am not well versed on the car side.
                  Mike Davis
                  Regional Manager, North Carolina
                  1964 Champ 8E7-122 "Stuey"

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by StudeNewby View Post
                    If you decide to go with radials, and that would be my preference, then it's highly recommended to switch your old wheels to more modern wheels designed for radials. I just recently did that on my Champ truck. I think many have used Crown Vic wheels or even Mopars, but others can speak to that as I am not well versed on the car side.
                    Can't argue with that, but... The problem is that 4 lug, 15" wheels are not easily found.
                    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                    17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
                    10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                    10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
                    4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                    5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
                    56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
                    60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Awesome, thanks everyone for the advice!

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                      • #12
                        Will it be a problem running 6.70-15 or 7.10-15 on my 1950 Champion? A 5.60-15 is available but that seems to small to me.

                        What was the original size on the car?

                        Currently my car has a 7.35-15 Bias on the front and 6.5-15 snow tires on the rear- they don't seem too big just looking at them and it has run on them for years.
                        Last edited by BradEtters; 03-12-2021, 09:08 AM.

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                        • #13
                          6.70-15 are on the slightly larger size but should be fine, noting that what you've given here is a "bias sizing".

                          It's just novel marketing on Diamond Back's part to give a size approximation for a radial, but there must be a tread width in mm (175, 185, 205, etc) and an aspect ratio in there somewhere (75%, 80%, etc).

                          The 7.35-15 is too big.

                          Originally you would have had either 5.90-15 or 6.40-15.

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                          • #14
                            It's helpful to get a Coker catalog or a Kelsey or Diamondback catalog, if they still publish them. Those catalogs list the overall diameter and width of the various sizes of tires. You can compare the original size, as listed in your owners manual, to the sizes of the modern tires listed and choose the best one for your car.
                            RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

                            17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
                            10G-C1 - 51 Champion starlight coupe
                            10G-Q4 - 51 Champion business coupe
                            4H-K5 - 53 Commander starliner hardtop
                            5H-D5 - 54 Commander Conestoga wagon
                            56B-D4 - 56 Commander station wagon
                            60V-L6 - 60 Lark convertible

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by 64V19816 View Post
                              The very first radial tires I ever saw were when my (rich) uncle bought Michelin’s to go on his brand new 1967 Ford Galaxie. First thing I thought was ........those tires look almost flat!
                              I put Michelins on my 1966 Charger (in about 1967) and was stopped by people telling me that my tires desperately needed air.
                              Gary L.
                              Wappinger, NY

                              SDC member since 1968
                              Studebaker enthusiast much longer

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