Adding Wheels & Tires Makes Our Long Roof Look Good

Selecting the right wheel and tire combo can go well beyond just finding something that bolts on and can fit some more rubber. Ultimately, the wheel and tire combo must fit with the personality of the project to be a true perfect fit. For our ongoing ’81 Caprice wagon, we needed a set of wheels that could bring out the good side of our long roof Caprice.

We sought out to find a set of rollers that could blend in with the unsuspecting looks of the car, while adding some much needed improvement that would make people raise an eyebrow. The tires have equal weight to pull. We wanted a set of meats that would be a balance of street, strip, and autocross. Enter Wheel Pros/American Racing Wheels and Mickey Thompson.

Wheel Pros produces a number of iconic wheel designs from the muscle movement. While they have a complete line of Boyd Coddington designs, as well as the American Racing wheels to choose from, we feel in love with the looks of their Hot Rod Custom Salt Flat Special Wheel.

This fully polished, forged wheel had the strength and looks to mesh with the Caprice perfectly. Hands down one of the greatest perks we found in selecting Wheel Pros/ American Racing Wheels was their impressive sizing support. Just in the wheel style we selected, there were over 200 size, offest, and bolt-pattern options to make sure we were getting the exact wheel we wanted.

The Salt Flat Special wheel from Wheel Pros/American Racing is a classic designed wheel that fits well with many different types of projects. Plus with their endless sizing options, they truly can 'fit' on to any project.

In the rear, we selected 15x10s, and completed the set with 15x7s in the front. This was the largest size that we could squeeze under the factory sheet medal.

Selecting the rubber for the car was an easy choice. Mickey Thompson’s Sportman S/T tire is a true nod to the old school looks of tires back when big blocks and HEMIs ruled the roads. With raised white letters, and a radial construction, this tire has the great looks of classic rubber, with the modern ride and feel of a radial tire.

We squeezed in a 255/60R15 for the front tires. We had considered at one point to use the M/T Sportsman SR, but when Ken Warner, VP of Sales & Marketing for the Mickey Thompson brand stepped in and said, “The fronts would be better served with an S/T in my opinion, as the Max Load is higher for that Overweight Wagon. God knows when that front end comes back down to earth from the Ed Jones Style Wheelie, we want that tire to stay together!” We agreed.

Out back, the ET Street Radial was the weapon of choice. With Mickey’s special sidewall construction that was designed for quick launches on the drag strip, this tire has proven to be very competitive in the world of competitive Drag Radial racing. And being that it comes from a radial construction, it still offers all the excellent ride control on the street.

Our measurements where spot on in the sizing process. The tire is able to tuck perfectly into the wheel well with the Ridetech suspension laid all the way down.

We took the car out for some test drives to get a feel for the new way of griping the road. With the Ridetech suspension (stay tuned for the full-length technical article coming out soon) still being evaluated, the difference the tires made was very noticeable.

The wheels too gave some improvement to our wagon. We even managed to draw out a smile from Editor Kevin the first time he saw the new shoes.

Up next, we’ll wrap up the driving impressions of the suspension upgrades with swapping to Ridetech’s air suspension.

Article Sources

About the author

Tom Bobolts

Tom started working for Power Automedia in early 2008 at the young age of 20. Starting off as an intern spinning wrenches in the PowerTV garage, Tom cut his teeth helping us build the very project cars we feature. Since moving inside the office, most of his time is spent writing and shooting installs - but he still finds time to get out in the shop. Outside of work, Tom enjoys a variety of different motorsports from Street Bikes, Muscle Cars and just about anything that demands high amounts of horsepower.
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