RUSSELL STUCKEY of Melbournebased Stuckey Tyres, remembers when radial tyres were a new thing, but adds that these days few manufacturers have the technical capability or production processes to make their predecessors – crossply tyres. Radials have become the tyre of choice, as they are made in many factories on the latest equipment and readily available. Stuckey said: “I remember when radial tyres came out in the 60s and if you had a tricked-up Holden and put on wide wheels, you put Pirellis on it, which had a very rugged and bold pattern”. Stuckey also dispelled a myth that the tread pattern was a way of telling if it is a radial or a cross-ply and looks back at a couple of Aussie muscle cars to make his point. “The first GT Falcon came out with 18514 radials, but the original Holden Monaro came out on the cross-ply tyres and red sidewalls. Both of those tyres had a very plain looking pattern.
“To be honest I cannot see the value in a cross-ply tyre except in a rare instance where a particular car has come out with a distinctive cross-ply tyre and concourse judges would look for that.” However Ben McKinnon from Antique Tyres cautions: “There are cars for which radials are not an option due to rim width, tyre size etc. For example, a car that runs a 16x3.5 rim that would have had a 500/525-16 as standard has no safe radial option.” If in doubt get expert advice. Antique runs an online service at antiquetyresonline.com.au, which covers the entire country. Ben explains that while he obviously has a vested interested in owners changing over their rubber, there is nevertheless a use-by date. “I have people come to me at shows and ask me to say their 25-year-old tyres are okay – they kinda get grumpy when I say I can’t,” he says, adding that tyres simply have a use-by date that’s much shorter than that. Then he adds a surprising note: “The best thing you can do for your tyres is drive the hell out of them.” He reckons regular use is the best formula – which, let’s face it applies to pretty much the whole car!