A good looking set of tires and wheels CAN make a big difference from any angle on any B!
On tire and wheel choice:
There are really only two ways to own any automobile vehicle. One is "stock" and the other is "modified". Stock means exactly that, stock, no changes from original. Modified means exactly that, changed from its OEM state. My Black Beauty B roadster, while "in keeping with the era", IS however, in this respect, modified in several ways.
One of the things I have done to my B to improve it while still trying to stay in keeping with the "era" is to modify the tires and wheels, this done to improve the looks, performance and handling. Among MG people, there has been a great deal of debate over the tire types and sizes and the wheel types and sizes. In my (not so) humble opinion, there really is NO tire size debate and the wheels are as much a matter of personal opinion and taste as fact. Only the unknowing can "debate" something like this. Here are the facts, from my personal first-hand experience:
I chose to modify my B. I replaced the original Roystyle stock steel wheels and stock tires that came on the car with 5.5" x 14" KN Minilite replica wheels mounted with 195/60 x 14 BF Goodrich Radial TA tires.
The Tires: Yes, with the wider tires, the steering is of course somewhat heavier, but that's the price you pay to have more rubber in contact with the road. The handling is improved many times over (when you really push it as you would in competition) and I have absolutely NO more steering degradation any point in the steering than I had before I made the tire/wheel change. Though the steering IS a little heavier, it is not THAT much heavier though, and I find my B still very easy to steer - and to me, it has an even MORE enjoyable and more sporty feel now. It tracks very true and stable in a straight line, BETTER than before.
There is not an especially harsh ride either (for a 28 year old B). That's probably because of two things; 1). These tires are actually oversized (NOT in diameter) for this car AND for these 5.5" wide wheels, so I inflate them slightly less than normal to keep as flat a road contact pattern as is possible under the (narrower wheel than spec'ed by the manufacturer for the tire) conditions. I keep the pressure at 26-28 lbs. max. hot (My other cars get 35 lbs. hot). This seems to make for a good road contact pattern and a nice ride quality too. I think that the key to the good ride though is the rubber compound that BF Goodrich uses for these tires. It is a "soft" tire, as compared to many others. BF Goodrich offered these "stock", street legal tires for racing when they were first introduced and they did quite well with them in competition. They are very sticky/soft.
Another thing; The "Radial TA" name brand tire was available from BF Goodrich at the time when my B was manufactured new. While I'm not a stickler for keeping my B pure stock, and I could care less about having a perfectly "concours" car, I DO like to keep the car's appearance "improved of the era". These tires/wheels do that.
The BF Goodrich Radial TA tire has a high performance name and reputation here in the US. Also, the larger tire/wheel combo fills up the wheel-wells real good, giving the car a really aggressive look, that fits with my "muscle car/hot rod" background. That is the main thing that I was looking for in a set of tires when I bought the Radial TA's. The looks. The good ride and handling and everything else positive that I have mentioned just came as an extra bonus.
At one time these used to be very expensive tires. However, I bought mine at Sam's Wholesale Club last year, right off their shelf, for a price very competitive to normal tires. Couldn't believe it when I found them there, when I needed them - and at such a good price!
Though I am not an expert at determining the final drive ratio, I would bet it is a very close match to the same as OEM. The tire height was just about the same as the original tires that came on the car when I purchased it 14 years ago and I've checked my speed against other "stock" cars with favorable results.
The one and only negative: They WERE a very tight fit - BUT they DID fit, with a little extra effort and minor mod. When I first put them on, when driving in a straight line or on normal curves, they did NOT scrape. However, when pushed very hard, (only) the right side DID rub some, enough to be concerned. I had already rebushed and tightened up everything previously and knew that the suspension was in good shape - so I got out the old baseball bat! Rolled the bat/tire combo back and forth a few times between the wheel-well and the tire, (took some muscle) and no more rubbing since! Ruined the bat but didn't hurt the car at all! It did bow the wheel well a very little, and I can tell, but nobody else can. BE CAREFUL OF THE BAT DIAMETER SIZE THOUGH! Don't overdo it!
I suppose that you could also grind off enough of the wheel-well lip to make the tires clear too. With a reasonably tight suspension, shouldn't take too much.
I only drive my B a very few thousand miles a year so tire wear is not an important consideration for me.
The Wheels: As far as the Minilite replica's go, I chose the 5.5" x 14" size because; A). They were less expensive than my other choices and I could still get the "of the era" look I wanted. B). I could afford them, C). They fit without major modification better than the other choices (bigger-wider-offset differences-wheel-well fit problems, D). I don't compete in my B (at least not on the track, currently), and E). They look absolutely great, as good as any others, for a street driven car (I know that "looks" is a matter of personal taste/choice though and everybody has their own opinion). However, I DO believe that this tire/wheel combo is just about the best that can be done for the total picture of looks, handling and performance and affordablilty, in keeping with the era, on an MGB, and WITHOUT having to perform modifications to make it fit.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be cautioned that the wheel-well modification is NOT intended to make super wide tires and wheels with a major positive (to the outside) offset, fit your car. This method is ONLY to get that little bit of extra clearance that you might need to stop minor rubbing. This worked on my B. However, I offer no warranties and accept no liability!! Do this modification entirely at your own risk!
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