The Pantera Place
"Your de Tomaso Connection"
Selecting Tires For Your Pantera
By Mike Dailey
Selecting tires for the Pantera can be a difficult task. The original stock 7" and 8" wide Campagnolo wheel combination has a very limited tire selection. If 8" and 10" wide Campagnolo wheels are used the most widely used tires are the BF Goodrich Euro T/A 225/50HR15 or 245/50HR15 and the 305/50HR15. These tires are only H rated to 130 MPH. The Euro T/A 225/50HR15 and the 305/50HR15 are usually not in stock at most tire stores and sometimes take weeks to locate. Much has been published about the Euro T/A 225/50HR15 and the 305/50HR15 so there is no need to go into more detail. I think most everyone likes the look of the stock 8" and 10" wide Campagnolo wheels and it is too bad that good Z rated tires are not available for them.
I wanted Z rated tires but I also wanted the Campagnolo wheel look. I had two wheel vendors to look at that make Campy wheels, Pantera East and Panteras by Wilkinson. But, I found that Panteras by Wilkinson had only 17" front wheels. I learned from Panteras by Wilkinson that they originally made their front wheels in a 8"X16" because at the time of the early production the selection of 17" tires that worked on the Pantera was limited. After the 17" tires were more readily available they stopped making the 16" front wheel and now only make the 17" wheel. Because I wanted 16" front wheels this eliminated the Panteras by Wilkinson wheels.
I decided that I would use the Pantera East Campagnolo Campy like wheels. The wheels look great and are available in 8X16 front wheel (that I wanted) or 8X17 for the front and 11/17 for the back. I wanted the shortest front tire and the tallest back tire so I could keep the slight nose down stance that the Pantera has. I'm using stock type Koni shocks that do not have ride height adjustments. I also did not like the look of 17" wheels on the front of the Pantera because to me it over powers the wheel well. With the goal of keeping the stock wheel appearance I set out to find some tires that would work with the wheels and I was hoping I could find some 16" front tires that would work. I found that most all of the leading tire manufacturers make a 245/45/ZR16 for the 16" rim.
There is some debate among Pantera owners about the appearance of 16" or 17" front wheel. The 16" group thinks the 16" wheel looks better and the 17" group thinks the tire selection is better. I found that in some cases the available 17" tires were too tall and the selection was not as great as 17" crowd might think. The 17" wheel crowd might also argue that the 17" tires will be available longer than the 16" tires. But, there are a lot of performance cars with 16" wheels. If you haven't guessed, I'm on the 16" wheel team. In the end, the wheel size is a personal preference.
The tire manufacturers publish tire information but it is not always completely accurate so the information I'm publishing may very with the actual tire. I reviewed every major tire manufacturer that I could find and the following are some examples of the best tires that I considered, e.g. some of the back tires were less that 26", fronts too tall, backs too tall and incorrect matching tires for the front and back.
Dunlop SP Sport 8000
Tire Size Measured Rim Width Section Width Tread Width Overall Diameter 245/45/ZR16 8" 9.6" 8.8" 24.8" 245/40ZR17 N/A 245/45/ZR17 8" 9.6" 8.8" 25.6" 335/35/ZR17 11" 13.2" 12.4" 26.1"
The tread design of the Dunlop tire appealed to me and is rated as an excellent high performance tire. The tread would look great from the back view of the Pantera. The Dunlop tire is not a good selection for 17" front wheels because of the 25.6" diameter.
Michelin Pilot Sport
Tire Size Measured Rim Width Section Width Tread Width Overall Diameter 245/45/YR16 8" 9.9" N/A 24.7" 245/40/YR17 8.5" 9.6 N/A 24.7 245/45/YR17 8" 9.7 N/A 25.7 335/35/ZR17 12" 13.4" N/A 26"
The tread design of the Michelin tire did not appeal to me but it is rated as an excellent high performance tire. The Michelin has a good selection for front tires in the 16" and 17" size. The Pilot SX MXX3 has a great tread design but is being phased out of production.
Tire Size Measured Rim Width Section Width Tread Width Overall Diameter 245/45/YR16 8" 10.1" N/A 24.9" 245/40/YR17 8.5" 9.7 N/A 24.8 245/45/ZR17 8" 10.2" N/A 25.7 335/35/ZR17 No spec Info listed 13.2 N/A 26.2
The tread design of the Pirelli appealed to me and is rated as an excellent high performance tire. Pirelli has a good front tire selection. But, I was concerned about the back wheels clearing my mufflers and the body of my car after looking at the 335/35/ZR17 tires installed on a friends Pantera, because the tread is so wide at the outer edges.
In the end, I selected the Dunlop tires in the 245/45ZR16 and 335/35/ZR17. The combination of the two tires provides a front tire that has a sidewall that is slightly shorter than the back tire for a good looking tire combination. For more information on the tire installation see this page.