Q:Greg, I enjoyed your article explaining where the word MOPAR came from in the March 23 issue of Auto Roundup.
I have a '66 Plymouth Fury III convertible with 17,000 miles on it. When I bought it in 1994, the previous owner had put P255/75R-14 steel belted tires on it. I have put 5,000 miles on it with no problems, but heard you should not put radials on older wheels as they put too much tire pressure on the wheels and sometimes the wheel breaks or cracks.
What year did MOPARS start using radial tires, and since my tires were not designed for a radial, can you recommend a good replacement that will allow use of my original hubcaps?
Also, what was the original tire size for my Fury? Loom forward to your answer soon as convertible weather is here (72-78-degrees) in the Missouri Ozarks.
Jim Earls, West Plains, MO.
A: John, rest easy on those wheels for the moment, as if they would have broken, the professional tire people I spoke to (three of them) say they already would have.
Two tire specialists in Pennsylvania said they have yet to have one problem with a wheel cracking on a car like yours because radials were installed.
One gentleman, who works for Jack Williams Tire & Auto in Pennsylvania, told me they have a client who has 25 Hudson automobiles, and all have radial tires on them with not one problem. However, the second, who runs Kaminski Automotive, in Elysburg, did note that he had seen a few problems during his career on cars older than yours.
I then spoke with Laura at Coker Tire, with locations in Tennessee and California. Coker Tire is known nationwide as the number one source of tires and wheels for collector cars. Laura did agree that some tires can break a wheel that may have already been weakened a bit when an owner switches from bias ply to radial. She said radial tires put more stress on a wheel as they run in a "side to side" motion instead of a Bias Ply, that wears differently (I guess you could say up and down instead of side to side).
Laura also feels if your wheels would have failed, they would have by now. However, Laura is sending you a catalog as I gave her your address, and she would love to speak with you, too if you'd like to call.
She said she can either recommend a bias ply for your wheel, or a wheel for your radials if it would make you sleep better at night. She also said your Fury II came from the factory with 735x14 bias ply on the 6-cylinder model, and 775x14 on the V8.
As for radials, by 1975, over 80-percent of cars built in America were using radial tires as either standard equipment or an option.
Contact Coker Tire at 1-866-513-2744 EST or check them on the web at www.cokertire.com.
Good luck with that beautiful '66 Fury convertible!