The Hunt for New Tires and Wheels

My Cougar XR7 was originally equipped with 14 inch wheels and XR7 hubcaps.  The tire size was E78 x 14 and if I'm not mistaken, the original tires were thin stripe double whitewalls. The comparison would be 195 x 75, if even available today.  It's a higher profile and narrower tire than found on most cars of recent vintage.  The 1970 XR7 is pictured in the showroom brochure with the double whitewall and I still have one as a spare.  

Long ago, we switched from bias belt to radial and went to 70 series tires with a wider footprint.  The hotter tire option in 1970 was the F70 x 14.  The comparison would be 215 x 70 and that's the size of whitewall I put on the Cougar about 14 years ago.  The combination of a whitewall tire and the XR7 hubcap says luxury, not muscle.

The dilemma

14 years is a long life for a tire, even though there are not a lot of miles on them.  The hunt has begun for a new set.  My thinking has been whitewalls to keep it looking stock.  That way the original hubcaps would still be featured.  What a bad case of sticker shock!  The only whitewalls I can find are special order, at more than twice the cost of anything else on the market.  

So a decision has to be made.  Stock or modified?  

I'm not that much of a purist.  The Cougar is not a pristine show car, I drive it and I've always loved the look of mag wheels.  If I go that route, I can  garage the original rims and hubcaps, even keep the old whitewalls.  And, a raised white letter tire such as the B. F. Goodrich Radial T/A is readily available. 


As for wheels, several questions must first be answered.  
  • Like the whitewall, 14 inch rims are virtually non-existent.  Most suppliers start at 15 inch and go up from there.  I don’t want them too big.  The look I’m going for is still classic muscle car, not Hot Wheels style mega rims with ultra-skinny tires.  
  • American Racing makes a number of classic mag wheels in 15 inch or larger.  They are expensive and take six or more weeks for delivery.  Nothing is on the shelf.  All orders are custom.
  • West Coast Classic Cougar stocks a number of Cougar/Mustang reproduction wheels, including the Magnum 500.  They do offer the 14 inch.  But, if I go with the 15 inch, it’ll be easier to find tires in the long run, at least that’s what I am told.  Depending on delivery charges, a set of Magnum 500's plus the new rubber would likely cost around the same as the special order whitewalls.  

Cruisin' season soon

I put the Cougar on the road for six months a year, beginning May 1st or 15th depending on the weather.  The start date is fast approaching.  I need to get rolling.


  1. Like to see pictures of the new wheel/tire combo.

  2. Peter..New blog post has a couple of pics. You'll see more with future posts. I've got some great shots of the Cougar XR7 this year and expect more to come. First car show coming up.