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Selecting Tires for Your Air-Cooled Porsche

Tech Tuesday: It was time for new tires for my 1986 Porsche Carrera 3.2. I am embarrassed to say that the Yokohama tires on my Carrera were ten years old. The problem is they had lots of tread left on them so it was hard to spend the money to replace what appears to be perfectly good tires.

Selecting tires for air-cooled Porsche
New Michelin Tires for Porsche 911 Carrera

It is impossible to determine how long a tire is good for. Many automotive manufacturers recommend tire replacement at six years of age. Tire manufacturers recommend ten years though their warranties run out at six years. The reason that tires age is that the rubber breaks down over time and can weaken the integrity of the tire’s structure. As the tire ages, safety and performance comes into question.

According to the COA, my Porsche Carrera had optional Pirelli tires with optional 16” Fuchs. The tire size for the front is 205/55R X 16 on 6’’ wide rims. The tire size for the rear is 225/50R X 16 on 7” rims.

Yokohama Tires for Porsche
Yokohama AVS Sport Tire Tread

When I replaced the tires in 1999 my goal was to track the car so I looked at the latest tire tests from Car & Driver and Yokohama AVS Sports were their highest rated tires for track use. They featured a very aggressive tread pattern as seen here. I bought the Yokohamas, and never tracked the car. In recent years as I looked at those tires I kept looking at them as very inappropriate for the car with that unusual aggressive tread pattern.

When I finally realized I really should change out the tires, there was a mild sigh of relief as I could finally get a tire that had a more appropriate looking tread pattern for a 1986 Porsche.

I started studying tire availability. My first choice was to go to Pirelli to match the tires from the original car as stated on the COA. The Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires were almost twice the price of the other options offered by Tire Rack so I set aside the desire for Pirellis.

It was time to check the new tire market with a look at Tire Rack. They have a great system to insert your model of Porsche and the type of driving you do to provide recommendations.

The top fours choices came out: #1 Continental Extreme Contact Sport for $501.96, and #2 Bridgestone Potenza S-02 for $993.48, #3 Pirelli P Zero Rosso for $935.64 and #4 Michelin Sport A/S3 for $589.96 for four tires. I did not want to pay $99+ for tires so the options were Continentals or Michelins.

I have Continentals on my 997 Turbo and I am very happy with them, but my decision to purchase Michelins was based solely on the brand. Michelins were the first radial tires, race teams used them and Michelin tires were what I wanted to be able to afford on my first Triumph sports car and couldn’t. It was time to indulge myself with Michelins.

I couldn’t be happier with the performance, driving comfort and look appropriate to the car. My car seems much more sure-footed and really holds through the tight mountain turns. Of course it is not real fair to compare a new Michelin against a ten year old Yokohama, but the ride is noticeably improved.

And, the Michelins look a whole lot more appropriate for a 1986 Porsche 911. I am happy and would recommend the Michelins.

Michelin Tires for Classic Porsches
1986 Porsche Carrera 3.2 Using Michelin Pilot Sport Tires

Tags: Michelin Tires for Air Cooled Porsches, Air Cooled Porsche Tires, Classic Porsche tires

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