Jaguar XK Tyres
Classic Jaguar XK
Longstone Tyres recommendation for the best road tyre for the XK120, XK140 or XK150 is the 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67.Many XK drivers like to stick with crossply tyres, and Pirelli’s 6.00-16 Stella Bianca is absolutely fantastic. For some time there has not been a crossply tyre we have been happy to recommend for the XK Jaguar. However now Pirelli make the Stella Bianca we have no doubt but to say this is a great tyre.
- The original equipment tyre for an XK120, XK140 or XK150 was the 600H16 Dunlop RS5 which sadly is no longer manufactured.
- We now also have the perfect Crossply tyres for a Jaguar XK, 600-16 Pirelli Stella Bianca.
- We recommend the 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67 for the XK120, XK140 & XK150. This tyre is a period radial tyre that makes these cars better suited to modern roads, while maintaining the correct diameter and not making the steering too heavy.
- The best inner tube for an XK is the reinforced Michelin 16 F RET.
- For the classic XK Jaguar, our recommend tyre pressure for radial 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67 tyres is 30psi front and 36psi rear.
- The Michelin 185SR16 X is also excellent for a steady driver in an XK.
- Michelin also make the 600WR16 Pilote X which is an excellent high performance radial tyre that looks like a period racing tyre.
The earlier Jaguar XK120 had spats on the rear wheel arches. Because of the spats some radial tyres don't fit on the XK120. However because the PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ is a period tire, it will fit within the spats of an XK120.
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Jaguar XK Tyres Recommended Tyres
Other Options for Jaguar XK Tyres
XK Jaguar History
During World War 2 the Jaguar design team led by Sir William Lyons set to work on a brand new double overhead cam engine. As it neared completion it became obvious that a worthy successor to the SS100, powered by the new 160bhp engine, would be possible. The decision to build a sports car to house the engine was given the go ahead. Less than 2 months later, in October 1948, the Jaguar XK120 was unveiled at the Earls Court Motor Show. The car was an instant success with the public and press alike hardly able to comprehend the availability of 120mph sports car that was civilised at all speeds and cost only £998! The Jaguar XK 120 evolved throughout its life with the advent, in 1954, of the XK 140 with 190bhp and (small) backseat and the final incarnation in 1957, the XK 150, with disc brakes and a 210bhp engine option. Production of all Jaguar XK120, XK140 and XK150 variants, dropheads, roadsters and fixed heads ceased in the 1960's.
Jaguar XK Fitted with Michelin 600WR16 Pilote X Tyres
Article by Philip Porter from the XK Gazette
Tyres are something that many of us probably rather take for granted yet can make a massive difference to a car in terms of handling, road holding, wet weather behaviour, and comfort. I am no expert, but I acquired a set of PIRELLI CINTURATO™ about two or three years ago and fitted them to my XK120 Fixed Head.
Frankly, I think they are superb.
For a start, they have a good period look but more to the point they give me a great confidence when I am pressing on, and I do like to drive XK's as they were designed to be driven, and that is not slowly!
I think they are at their most impressive in the wet. As we all know, the XK is a pretty heavy car, certainly by modern standards, and when the car breaks away that weight has a certain momentum. However, I find the CINTURATO™s have a very high level of grip and when they do break away, it is all very undramatic and controllable. Having said all that, they are not cheap - but then, quality rarely is. They need to be good for the price, but I enjoy the car so much on these tyres that I feel it is worth the investment.
They are, after all, the only contact the car has with the road.
The ride is also good and thankfully, I do not seem to be wearing them out, which the old wallet is relieved about.
On the matter of price, the CINTURATO™s were considered incredibly expensive when they first became available in the 1950's but they are actually cheaper now than they were 20 years ago, whereas some other makes have nearly doubled in price and caught them up.
Today, we are in the very fortunate position of having a wide range of choice when it comes to the tyres for XKs. I can remember when there were hardly any 16in tyres produced and CINTURATO™s were seemingly rationed. I can recall conversations with specialist suppliers back in the '70s, and maybe into the '80s, along the lines of, "I have just managed to acquire a few PIRELLIs; I could let you have four". You moved fast or they were gone. From memory, they only made a batch every so often.
In those days, I used to rely on Avon Turbospeeds of the period, which were more affordable but, being crossplies, didn't last long if you indulged in motoring sideways.
It is a debatable subject to what degree you want to improve a classic car's roadholding by fitting wider and wider modern rubber. The greater the adhesion, the greater the loads you are putting through all the associated mechanical parts including steering, suspension, mountings and all sorts. We need to bear in mind, the basic XK design goes back 65 years.
Furthermore, do we want our XKs to drive like modern cars? Surely not; surely the character, personality and fun is that we are enjoying the best sports car of the 1950s. I am certainly not arguing against upgrading, and each to his own, but an XK, in my opinion, would look wrong on massive boots and would lose much of its charm if it drove as though on rails. I always remember a splendid comment from a reader in a letter to 'The Motor' magazine when I was a child. Referring to a Lotus Elan, he wrote, "Anyone can drive a tram!".
As I said earlier, I am no expert but I know a man who is. Rather like the Michelin Man, though not in girth, Dougal Cawley is surrounded by, and immersed, in tyres. He runs Longstone Tyres and is a total enthusiast. I asked him to talk us through some of the tyres available today.
"Presently the Michelin X is the cheapest radial tyre I sell for an XK. The X and the CINTURATO ™ are the only genuine period radial tyres for an XK. The X will last longer than Willy Wonker's Everlasting Gobstopper. If you punish yourself by looking at cars for sale in a 1970 edition of 'Motor Sport', you will notice the Michelin X tyre was often used as a big selling feature. However, today the Michelin X is not the best tyre for sporting use. On a road, that honour goes to the CINTURATO ™ as it is more progressive.
Avon TurboSteel: this tyres was new in the '80s as a high-speed tyre in the right size for an XK, because there pretty much wasn't anything else. They are quite a bit smaller in diameter and the footprint is very wide, which gives them lots of grip and they are very good on the track.
Jaguar, I know, did have a close relationship with Dunlop and I like to think that two of the leading companies in the automotive world at that time were British: Jaguar and Dunlop. I would suggest that it was a little bit the other way round as well. Between them, they did so much testing. But I also believe that that excellence was with crossply tyres. Today I would suggest that if you want to stick to crossply tyres, then it would be the original 600H16 Dunlop RS5.
Michelin Pilote X 600WR16: ultimate grip, highest speed rating, looks like an Englebert racing tyre of the '50s and '60s. Excellent road/race tyre. Not as progressive as the CINTURATO ™, but for very high speed road use they are excellent and they are the best for the track.
I think the PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ 185VR16 CA67 is the best XK road tyre. It is still a genuine PIRELLI CINTURATO ™. It is made by PIRELLI. It has the same tread pattern and sidewall design, and the carcass has the same dimensions and shape to maintain the original handling as well as appearance - a more modern design would have a wider contact point, which is not good for classics on the road. It also makes heavy steering even heavier.
Today, tyre manufacturers are not allowed to use some of the chemicals and materials that were used back in the '50s, '60s and '70s when these tyres were current. The CINTURATO ™ lives up to modern standards of tyre manufacturing, and is made using modern compounds but in a way that keeps the XK handling the way it should. The 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ was original equipment on the 250GT Ferrari, Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, Maserati 3500GT and Mistral."
So there we have it from Dougal, not forgetting Vredesteins and Blockleys. I look forward to trying some of the other tyres on the market but, meanwhile, am very happy with my Michelin Xs on my 120 OTS and the terrific CINTURATO™s on the FHC. Given the current rate of progress with my 140 DHC restoration, it is going to be a year or three before I have to make a decision on tyres, but the great thing today is that we have such a wide choice compared with 20/30 years ago.
It is worth noting that Philip wrote this article before Pirelli had reintroduced the 600V16 Stella Bianca. Which we would suggest is by far the best cross ply road tyre ever made
Jaguar XK120 Tyres
Hi, I am looking for four tyres for my 1952 XK120 with rear spats. What options do I have? Regards Tim Bach
Probably the best way to find the best tyres for an XK120 would be to watch my XK film.
We have also done a web page about XK tyres too. The XK120, XK140 & XK150 all fit the same tyres.
I would say the 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ would be by far the best tyre for your car. It is a genuine period sports car tyre and will fit inside your spats and handle beautifully.
The other option worth considering is the 185 SR 16 Michelin X. Again a nice period tyre that will definitely fit inside your spats and will be lovely at lower speeds, but it only has a S speed rating so isn't really a sports car tire.
The PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ is the best tyre option. It is a period sports car tyre. Designed to compliment the chassis of a car like your Jaguar, and at the same time the Cinturato will fit inside the spats of an early XK120, where many of the other radial tyres in this size will be too wide.
When these cars came out they fitted a 600H16 Crossply Dunlop. Dunlop are not currently making any historic road tires. Although for some time now people have preferred to drive XK Jags on radial tyres there is now a period crossply tyre that is ideal for these cars and up to the challenges of our modern roads. So if you want to run your XK120 on crossply tyres the 600-16 Pirelli Stella Bianca is excellent.
For me; Jaguar XK120 with spats; 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67.
Can the XK120 steel wheels be fitted with tubeless tires?
Answer 2: Hi Mr Clark
Although the standard original equipment tyre, the 600H16 Dunlop RS5 was described as a tubeless tire, we would recommend fitting inner tubes to an XK120. In fact we would encourage people to fit inner tubes to all XK Jaguars be it an XK120, XK140 or XK150. Whether it is fitted with pressed steel wheels, wire wheels and even the modern wire wheels that sometimes claim to be tubeless wire wheels, we would still encourage you to fit tubes with any XK120.
Soon after tubeless tyres were developed the wheel manufacturers changed the profile of the rim by adding the "humps" as seen in the picture below. These might also be called the safety rib, and their intention is to make sure that if a tyre becomes slightly deflated it doesn't slip off the rim. I don't believe your wheels have these safety ribs on an XK120, so I would encourage you to fit an inner tube. We sell what we think are by far the best tubes; reinforced Michelin tubes which you can get by following the link.
For originality; Jaguar fitted the 600H16 Dunlop RS5 crossply tyre to the XK120, XK140 & XK150. Currently Dunlop are not making any historic road tires. And there seems to be no plan to do so in the near future. I believe that if on the later cars you wanted to fit a radial tire with a period look, Jaguar would fit 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™. This tyre is still available and is also a tubeless tire, but again we would suggest fitting tubes, due to the original wheels not being a tubeless wheels.
We say "if in any doubt fit an inner tube".
Jaguar XK140 Tyres
I have an XK 140 roadster currently fitted with Michelin tyres. How does the Michelin 185 SR 16 compare with the 195 VR 16 PIRELLI and the Michelin 600 WR 16 Pilote X tyres and what are their speed ratings?
Out of the road tires available for an XK140; I would suggest that the 185SR16 Michelin X and the 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ CA67 would be the nicest tires to drive on. This is because they will give lovely light handling due to a thin tread pattern. Personally I would fit the PIRELLI CINTURATO ™, because it has a more progressive sports car carcass. The other good thing about these two genuine period tires is they have the correct dimensions which fits the car perfectly and a period tread pattern right for the era.
The 600WR16 Michelin Pilot X is the next top option. If I were going racing or really pressing on with an XK140 then I would fit the Pilote X; because of it's extraordinary levels of grip, However the only drawback with this tyre is it will make the steering of your XK140 a little heavier. But it is another brilliant option for a Jaguar XK140.
To Sum up
The 185SR16 Michelin X, is smack bang period, nice and light, only an S speed rating, not really a sports car tyre but lovely and currently a real bargain.
PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ gives the best balance of everything. Perfect size, genuine period tyre, great grip, nice and progressive and looks good. If I had an XK140 I would fit the CINTURATO ™.
The Pilote X has fantastic grip, but might make your steering a little heavier, but again an excellent tyre.
I also believe that if you asked Jaguar to fit radial tyres to your XK140, then Jaguar would fit PIRELLI CINTURATO ™.
There are other tires in this size, none of which I would even consider. They are all either the wrong shape and size or too modern. Even if you are buying just on price then you won't find a tire that is much cheaper than the 185SR16 Michelin X, which is currently an incredible deal for a tire in this size from arguably one of the world's best tire manufacturers.
Many thanks for your help. The tyres arrived and thank you for such helpful and prompt service. George Lamberty
Jaguar XK150 Tyres
What is the best tyre for my classic Jaguar XK150 and what pressure should I run them at?
The Michelin X and PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ were the only radials around at the time. PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ were the factory option that Jaguar would have fitted if you specified radial tyres for your XK150.
PIRELLI meanwhile say 28psi front and 32psi rear for their PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ on an Jaguar XK150.
You could run your Michelin tyres at the lower PIRELLI recommendations for steady road use, as the Pilote X is a relatively large tyre for that size and so it would be safe, however, because we use so many dual carriage ways today we drive at relatively high speed Longstone would run them at a slightly higher pressure if you wanted to improve your car's directional stability. We would suggest 30psi front and 36psi rear for fast road use.
Michelin do also experiment as high as 44psi front and 50psi rear for racing. However that is again for their Michelin X, not the Pilote X.
It isn't an easy question, but 30psi front & 36psi rear is Longstone's best estimate. However if the ride is a little harsh drop the pressure a bit, though we would not suggest going below 28 & 32psi.
If it under steers increase the front tyre pressure in relation to the back, and vice versa for oversteer.