New Wheel & Tire Combo!

Posted on Apr 21, 2023
We’ve always loved the Michelin TB5 and TB15 classic tarmac rally tires and we have a good track record of rationalizing otherwise half-brained ideas. These two things recently came together around our 911 rally car.

As you may know, we are the US distributor for BRAID wheels and, as such, sell many 15x9/11 Fuchs replica wheels for so called 911 RSR clones. These builds almost exclusively utilize the TB15 tires and we have always wanted to have a set ourselves but never seemed to have a project they would work on. Then we discovered that Audi used them back in the day on their A1 Quattro rally cars so we quickly ordered a set and the appropriate BRAID wheels in the period correct sizes for our Quattro build. That was 2018 and they have been quietly aging out in the warehouse ever since, as that build is taking forever. It’s also the second set of wheels and tires we’ve bought for the car so it seems we like to buy tires like we vote; early and often.

Rather than let them expire we thought we might use them on our 911 rally car. The tires are size 23/59-16 which translates to about 265/40-15 in new money. That’s more tire than we have ever seen on the back of a 911 Carrera such as ours and way more than you can stuff in the front of even a 911 Turbo. Still, we thought it would be a worthwhile public service, no, our duty, to see if we could make them work, On our Quattro they sit on 15x10 wheels but Michelin say they work well on rim widths of 8.5” to 10.5” so we thought we’d try them on a 9”. Trouble is, we didn’t have a suitable 15x9 wheel lying around in a reasonable offset so we did what we do best; we rationalized something. We looked around the showroom and realized we didn’t have any wheels on display in bronze color. So we looked through BRAID’s catalog for their least expensive 15x9 wheel and ordered a Fulrace Maxlight in bronze for display. Simple no? But what offset to order? We’d previously had a 255/40-17 on the car mounted on a 17x9 at ET17 so that was our benchmark. We didn’t know where this tire might rub but knew it would be tight. We did have a bunch of 5x130 spacers and, as this setup would never be driven on, a lot of big fender washers. Also we had long studs on the car so we could stack a lot of washers and still be able to bolt it on, sorta. We ordered our new display wheel in ET35 and waited patiently for it to arrive.

Once it showed up we wasted not time in whipping a TB15 of our Qauttro wheels and slipping it onto our new Maxlight.

With a few minutes of juggling various spacers and washer we quickly concluded that ET18 was the sweet spot. For this tire on a Carrera. Yes, it would work! It sits about 10mm from the oil lines and control arm adjusting nuts and just inside the fender and certainly dominates the space.

OK, now that we know it works how do we justify buying four new wheels and narrower TB5s for the front when we have perfectly good wheels already and some not very old Toyos RA1 tires on the car now? With expert rationalization of course. We remembered that a friend of ours always coveted our 15” setup for his SC but could never justify the cost of new wheels and tires when he had a perfectly good set of 16s already. If we could let ours go for a reasonable price we might have a way forward. There was one big issue though. Our wheels were white! However, we had a cunning plan, when we originally bought them. We realized that nobody but us would ever want a set of white Fuchs replica wheels, even if they were the best available. So we ordered them in the standard finish of black centers with silver anodized outer rims and then Plastidipped them white. Yes, you read that correctly, we Plastidipped them.They had held up remarkably well over the years but now it was time to attempt to remove the Plastidip and see what the original finish underneath looked like. It was easy to remove most of the coating but some parts fought us. However, the wheels underneath looked practically brand new! We would certainly be doing this with our new ones.

Deal done. Now we needed new wheels and two new front tires. But what size. There was really only one available that might work, a 18/50-15 which translates to a 225/50-15. We’d had 225s on the car at et30 so suspected this would be the magic number again but we wanted to make sure. We looked around for a suitable surrogate and soon spotted our gravel rally wheels in the storeroom with, you guessed it, an offset of et30. Now 7” is not an ideal size for a 225 width tire but it will go we ordered a pair of TB5s in that size and waited patiently again. We busied ourselves remove the incalcitrant Plastidip from the remaining three wheels we’d now agreed to sell along with their tires. When the tires arrived we slapped one on a rally wheel almost immediately and eagerly installed it on the car. It fit perfectly. Now we just needed wheels. We quickly ordered a set of BZ in standard finish and six cans of white Plastidip. And again we waited.

Five weeks later everything came together and this is the result. We couldn’t be happier. Yes, we Plastidipped them. Now we just need to drive the thing. Is it Spring yet?