Classic Jensen Tyres

On the following pages, Longstone Classic Tyres give classic tyre fitment recommendations for Jensen cars.

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Classic Jensen Tyres

By Dougal Cawley

For early Jensen cars pre-1958 on 16" wheels, there is a 550HR16 Michelin X for the early 541, and a wide choice of 185R16 which would be a radial alternative to 575x16 cross ply. Personally, I would suggest fitting the 185VR16 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ which is £239, but we also presently have a 185SR16 Michelin X at only £169. I don't know of anything cheaper. Historically people fitted 'Taxi tyres' that were cheap, but they are not appropriate for these cars as they don't have the right carcase structure. The 6-Play carcase structure is closer to a van tyre and they are designed to not wear out while continuously doing 3-point turns and mounting curbs which is the life of a taxi tyre.

15" Jensen Tyre

Jensen later, like the rest of the top car manufacturers (Aston, Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, etc), changed from 16" to 15" wheels. My books say that it was initially 6.40x15 until 1963 when they changed to 6.70x15. The radial equivalent of both these tyres is 185R15 (cars with 6.70x15 might get away with fitting 205VR15 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ if you want a taller tyre).

There is an extensive range of 185R15 radial tyres. Again, I would recommend the PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ as this is a genuine period tyre and is still the radial tyre of choice for cars of this period. It maintains a carcase design that is appropriate to the steering and suspension of the day whilst being manufactured today using modern materials. In 1965 Michelin developed the asymmetric tyre to make the Citroen DS have greater directional stability on the new motorways that were springing up everywhere. Today they still make a Michelin 185VR15 XVS, which is again an excellent tyre, and will diminish the wandering that can happen on rutted modern roads. There is also Dunlop and Avon which are good tyres, and the Dunlop is also a mid-60's tyre. Vredestein is presently the cheapest tyre in this size if you are buying just based on price.

Jensen Tyres

In 1968 the 'low profile tyre' was released and fitted to the XJ6; this was the Dunlop Aquajet SP Sport ER/70VR15, which is still available today. The Dunlop is excellent value, and at present is cheaper than the Vredestein. There is also Michelin's excellent XWX which is arguably the tyre that powerful Jensen Interceptors should fit, as it is the highest performance tyre available. This is the tyre fitted by all the European exotic cars; it was fitted by the Police to their XJ6 Jam Sandwiches. Today if you want a 205/70R15 tyre with an appropriate speed rating, and you are buying on price, then the Avon is extremely good value and still manufactured by a quality brand.

We also have a small selection of 215/70VR15 and 225/70VR15 tyres available, although the selection of tyres in this size very limited. The only cars that fit these sizes are the likes of Ferrari 356, Jaguar XJ12, Maserati Ghibli, Aston Martin V8 & Jensen Interceptor SP.

Cheap Jensen Tyres

All the tyres that Jensen fitted over the years were tyres for extremely high performance cars that are now unusual sizes where there is little demand for them. This combination makes them costly to produce. It is a misconception that if a car diminishes in value the tyres should also be cheaper. Though we appreciate it is sometimes difficult to justify buying a high-value set of tyres for your £2,500 Jaguar XJ12, it doesn't alter the fact that when you put any old rubbish on something that will do over 140mph and needs to stay on the road. It is also not just about speed - you need to be able to stop these heavy cars!

It is true that up until relatively recently, a PIRELLI 205/70R15 P4000 was readily available off the shelf from local tyre dealers. This tyre was standard fittment on some of the later series 3 XJ6 and XJS cars which were popular cars at the time, with plenty on the road. However, over time, the amount of these cars on the road diminished to the point where consequently it was no longer economic to produce these tyres, which resulted in the last batch produced being dramatically more expensive, and therefore more in line with other classic ranges such as the Michelin XWX and Dunlop Aquajet, because it was forced into the same economies of small-batch tyre production.

Though we do have a range of budget tyres, our company policy is to try to encourage our customers to buy the best tyres for their car. In doing so it is important to us that we stock a wide range of freshly-made tyres, and have the knowledge of the classic cars and all the tyres available, in order to provide a valuable and thorough service at a good price. The fact is, more often than not, if you go to your local tyre shed and ask for tyres for your Jensen, they do end up calling us for advice.

Dougal Cawley

Jensen Tyre Fittings

The following list are our recommendations for Jensens:

  • 185VR15 PIRELLI CINTURATO ™ for a Jensen 541S, Jensen 541R, Jensen C-V8 & early Interceptor
  • 550HR16 Michelin X for a Pre-1958 Jensen 541
  • 205/70VR15 Michelin XWX for a Jensen Interceptor III
  • 185/70HR13 Michelin XDX for a Jensen GT & Jensen Healey