Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Of small tires and economy cars

Hyundai, Accent, 14" wheels, small, wheels

Recently, I posed the question to the Subcompact Culture Facebook page about who had the car with the smallest tires. I think the smallest was a 4.8-8" tires on a Messerschmitt mini car. Next smallest was 165/70/10 on the Micro Image Subaru 360.

The smallest tires I personally had were 145/80/12 on our 1979 Honda Civic 1200. That thing cut through the snow like a hot knife through butter, as evidenced by the video we shot of it in college. Other "small rollers" I remember having were the 175/70/13 tires on our Dodge Colts (yes, we were repeat offenders) growing up.

This got me to thinking: What's the smallest sized tire currently available on the U.S. market? Diameter wise, I believe that goes to the 14" wheels/tires available on the Hyundai Accent. In fact, I think it's the only 2012 to come with 14s wrapped in 175/70/14 tires.

Width wise, the Mitsubishi i has the narrowest rollers at 145/65/15 on the fronts.

It's amazing to me how 15s and 16s are now standard fare on the vast majority of small cars, when not that long ago (as late 1995)  you could still buy a Geo Metro with 145/80/12 tires, and in the '80s, there were plenty of cars on 13s.


Anonymous said...

Everyone wants bigger wheels. 16s are the new 14s. It's funny how some fads get passed along to the manufacturers & then they get stuck there. A lot of these newer setups are ridiculous. It's like the cars are running wagon wheels with rubber bands as tires. Before you know it, 18s will be the minimum mandatory size on the smallest vehicles.

Steve "SailDesign" Baker said...

I had 155/80-13s on my VW Fox, until I conned my older boy out of a set of 14" Audi 4000 rims with 185 rubber on them. SO styling! ;-)

Loren said...

I'm rebelling against the trend, I put 175/70-14's on my Miata. And you know what? Aside from the fact that they're cheap all-season tires and squeal when pushed hard... they're quite adequate! (caveat: I've got the weight of my Miata down to almost 2000 pounds)

Jason Reece said...

The first four cars that I owned (all early to mid-80s Hondas) had the same size tires (175/70R13). I could even afford to buy Michelins in that size without breaking the bank!

My 2006 Mazda3 s 5-door has 205/50VR17 rubber. One reason I wanted to the 5-door instead of the sedan was because the sedan only had 205/55HR16 standard (the 17s were optional on the sedan, but tough to find). From the first time I saw the 17-inchers, they were an ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT for my new Mazda3!!! They just looked so cool! =)

The OEM Goodyears were an ultra-high-performance tire and they were shot at 27k miles! The Goodyear shop quoted a new identical set at $1200+!!! Luckily, I had done my research beforehand and I had them install a set of Dunlop SP Sport Signatures for $625. They improved ride quality, reduced road noise and came with a 60k treadlife warranty for half the price. The go-cart-like handling wasn't affected and they improved wet-weather handling significantly. I now have 94k miles on the car and just had another new set of Dunlops installed a few months ago.

I hate to imagine how many 'economy car' owners have been stunned by the replacement cost for 17" or 18" tires? Not to mention how much it can cost to replace one of the massive alloy rims if it gets damaged! I found out the hard way when a pot-hole bent two of my rims- $460 each!!! Amazingly, the tires weren't harmed, but the 50-series sidewall transferred all of the impact directly on to the soft alloy rims....ugh!

indianist said...

your detail about the Small cars of India is very nice and these cars are having attractive features and functions..

Christina said...

I think I am going to try the 175/70/14 on my Mark-II. I have not yet any idea what tires I have, but I will install this size to see what they do :)

Nice post



auto carriers

Anonymous said...

10 years you still got that Miata dawg?