Classic Mustang Wheel and Tire Combinations Part 1

By: Alan L. Colvin 

 

The job of determining what wheels and tires are correct for your vintage Mustang can be sometimes overwhelming to the restorer. Finding an original NOS (New Old Stock) tire, or even a full set of four plus a spare for the early Mustangs can be next to impossible, even when considering of the existence of the many Mustang suppliers across the United States. While there still may be some original tires that can be found in old tire warehouses, swap meets or in large car parts collections, the chances of finding NOS tires is getting more slim as time marches on. Wheels are much easier to find in the more common or standard sizes since some were also used on other Ford model lines. Whether you are looking for tires or wheels or both for your classic Mustang, you shouldn’t have to look far... if you know what to look for and why. Let’s discuss the tires first.

 

The types and sizes of tires that were used on early 1965-66 Mustangs are quite varied in construction and size. In addition, the usage was somewhat varied from year to year dependent on the options that could be ordered on the car. It should be stated here that most Mustangs that are street driven today do not carry the original type tires they were delivered with to the dealership. Tire technology has changed dramatically over the many years since these cars were built and most Mustang owners who drive their car on a consistent basis usually opt for a radial tire, giving the car better handling and better adhesion in the rain.

 

The original tire sizes we will discuss here are for the restored concours Mustangs that are judged on their originality at major Mustang club events throughout the United States. While most NOS Mustang tires may be quite rare, several manufacturers have begun to manufacture reproduction tires for restored Mustangs that are almost identical to the originals. To learn what tire manufacturers are considered correct for your Mustang, you should contact the Mustang club you intend to join or the event where you intend to show the car. The senior or head judges of that organization will be able to tell you what tires are required, based on the class in which you intend to show the car.

 

It should be mentioned here that the DOT (Department of Transportation) markings that are required to be on all reproduction tires were not in use when the original tires were manufactured for many early Mustangs. This is one quick way to discern if the tire you are about to buy from an individual or dealer is an original or a new reproduction. While not all the tires used on Mustangs are available as reproductions, many now are and can be bought quite inexpensively. Keep in mind that most Mustang clubs do allow reproduction tires to be used in certain classes (usually concours and above) without point deductions. Let’s discuss the sizes of tires that were available on the early Mustangs so you can begin the search for your particular tires.

 

1965 Mustang

 

The 1965 Mustang used one of six different tire sizes, with the sizes based upon the original or optional equipment that was ordered on each particular car. The base 6-cylinder and V8 cars used a 6.50x13” tire as standard equipment. If either a 6-cylinder or V8 car was ordered with air conditioning, a 7.00x 13” tire was installed. This tire was also optional on non-air conditioned cars. An optional 6.50x14” was the next step up in tire size for both the 6-cylinder and V8 cars and this tire came as standard equipment on V8 models with the optional Handling Package. The optional tire for the V8 Handling Package was a 5.90x15” offering. This was the only 15-inch tire offered for the 1965 Mustang but was later dropped after August 1964. After September 1964, a 6.95x14” tire became optional on 6-cylinder cars and standard equipment on V8 cars with and without the Handling Package. The last tire to be offered for the 1965 Mustang was a 6.95x14” Dual Red Band tire manufactured in Premium nylon. This tire was not available in 6-cylinder cars, but was optional in V8 cars and was standard equipment in the 289 High Performance cars after September 1964.

 

The last tire to be offered for the 1965 Mustang was a 6.95x14” Dual Red Band tire manufactured in Premium nylon. This tire was not available in 6-cylinder cars, but was optional in V8 cars and was standard equipment in the 289 High Performance cars after September 1964. The Eckler’s part number for this tire is # 44-11612-1 and the Ford Styled Steel wheel is # 44-38000-1.

 

The 1965 Mustang used only two different types of wheels but offered a wide variety of sizes based again on original equipment and final tire size of each Mustang for these two wheel designs. The standard wheel for all Mustangs including both 6-cylinder and V8 models was a stamped steel wheel that was ventilated and used an integral safety-type design. The 6-cylinder Mustang used a 13x4.5” steel wheel as standard equipment. You could also order an optional 14x4.5” steel wheel on the 6-cylinder cars. These were the only two wheels offered for the 6-cylinder cars for 1965. The V8 cars used the same 13x4.5” steel wheel as standard equipment, but this wheel was discontinued for V8 cars after September 1964. A 14x5.0” steel wheel was originally offered as an optional wheel on the V8 cars but, then after the 13x4.5” wheel was discontinued in September of 1964, this 14x5.0” wheel then became the standard equipment for all V8 Mustangs. A 15x5.0” steel wheel was also offered as an optional wheel in 1965 to mount the 5.90x15” tire, but the wheel was dropped in August of 1964, the same time the 5.90x15” tire was discontinued. The 1965 V8 Mustang could also be purchased with an optional chrome14x5.0” Styled Steel wheel that was introduced in May of 1964. Many of the V8 Mustangs built after this wheel’s introduction were equipped with this wheel from the factory.

 

1966 Mustang

 

Thank goodness the confusing tire options from the 1965 Mustang were not carried over into the 1966 model year. In fact, almost all 1965 sizes were now eliminated including the 13x4.5” and 15x5.0” tires, down to only one size being offered, and the 1966 Mustang was now “shod” with only a 6.95x14” tire. While the tire size was now the same for all options, the difference for this model year were upgrades in tire material. The 1966 Mustang used one of only three different tire types, with the types based upon the original engine equipment that was ordered on each particular car. The base 6-cylinder and V8 cars (289/2V and 4V only) used a 6.95x14” Rayon tire as standard equipment. If a 6-cylinder or base V8 car was ordered with an optional tire, a 6.95x14” Nylon tire was installed. The last tire to be offered for the 1966 Mustang was also a 6.95x14” tire, but was manufactured in Premium nylon. This tire was not available in 6-cylinder cars, but was optional in the V8 289/2V and 4V cars and was a No-Cost Option as standard equipment in the 289 High Performance cars. When the 289 High Performance Engine was ordered, the option included the dual red band premium nylon tires.

 

Almost all 1965 sizes were now eliminated including the 13x4.5” and 15x5.0” tires, down to only one size being offered, and the 1966 Mustang was now “shod” with only a 6.95x14” tire. While the tire size was now the same for all options, the difference for this model year were upgrades in tire material. The Eckler’s part number for this tire is # 44-11634-1. The Ford Styled Steel wheel is # 44-38000-1.

 

The 1966 Mustang again only used two different types of wheels but now offered only two sizes of wheels, primarily based on the fact of the drastic reduction in tire options for this new model year. The sizes were now based on the 6.95x14” tire size now offered. The standard wheel for all 6-cylinder and V8 Mustangs was again a stamped steel wheel that was ventilated and used an integral safety-type design. The 6-cylinder Mustang used a 14x4.5” steel wheel as standard equipment. This 6-cylinder 14x4.5” wheel used 4 wheel studs to attach it to the car. There was no other optional wheel offered for 6-cylinder cars for the 1966 model year. The 1966 V8 cars used the same 14x5.0” steel wheel as used as standard equipment for the 1965 Mustang after September of 1964. The 1966 V8 Mustang could again be purchased with a newly redesigned optional 14x5.0” Styled Steel wheel. This new design incorporated a chromed honeycomb center, while the rest of the wheel was rendered black. A chrome beauty ring was also used over the black part of the rim so there is little visual difference between this wheel and the earlier 1965 optional styled wheel. Both the stamped steel wheel and the newly designed Styled Steel V8 wheels used 5 wheel studs to attach the wheel to the car.

 

1967 Mustang

 

The 1967 Mustang used one of only three different tire types, with the types based upon the original engine equipment that was ordered on each particular car. The base 6-cylinder, V8 cars (289/2V and 4V only) and also the 289 High Performance cars used a 6.95x14” tire as standard equipment. A 7.35x14” tire could be ordered optionally on any of the 6-cylinder, base V8 or 289 High Performance cars. The base V8 and 289 High Performance cars could also be ordered with an optional F70x14” Wide Oval. This tire came as standard on 390 V8 and all GT Equipment Group cars. When the Competition Handling Package was ordered with the GT 390 engine, the option included 15x6 wheels which mounted F70x15” tires.

 

The base V8 and 289 High Performance cars could also be ordered with an optional F70x14” Wide Oval. This tire came as standard on 390 V8 and all GT Equipment Group cars. The Eckler’s part number for this tire is # 44-11620-1.

 

The 1967 Mustang again only used two different types of wheels, but now offered four sizes of wheels. The standard wheel for all Mustangs was again the same stamped steel wheel that was ventilated and used an integral safety-type design. The 6-cylinder Mustang used a 14x4.5” steel wheel as standard equipment. This 6-cylinder 14x4.5” wheel used 4 wheel studs to attach it to the car. There was no other optional wheel offered for 6-cylinder cars for the 1967 model year. The 1967 V8 cars used the same 14x5.0” steel wheel as used as standard equipment for the 1966 Mustang. This same steel wheel, manufactured in a 14x6” width, was used as standard equipment on the 390 cars. The 1967 V8 Mustang could again be purchased with an optional redesigned 14x6.0” Styled Steel wheel. Since this wheel was now wider, a new wider chrome trim ring was now required. The new design also incorporated a new blue center cap, which used five fingers that spread out to meet the spokes of the wheel. The wheel center also utilizes a slot cutout, which matches the center cap, allowing the cap to be aligned with the wheel spokes. As mentioned before, a new 15x6” wheel was also offered for 1967 to mount the F70x15” tires when the Competition Handling Package was ordered on a GT390 car. Both the stamped steel wheel and the Styled Steel wheels used 5 wheel studs to attach the wheel to the car.

 

1968 Mustang

 

The 1968 Mustang used seven different tire types, with the types based upon the original engine equipment that was ordered on each particular car. The base 6-cylinder and base V8 (289/2V and 302/4V only) cars used a 6.95x14” tire as standard equipment. A 7.35x14” tire could be ordered optionally on any of the 6-cylinder or base V8 cars, while also being standard equipment on the 390 equipped cars. The base V8 and 390 equipped cars could also be ordered with an optional E70x14” Wide Oval. These E70x14” Wide Oval tires were only available on the argent silver Styled Steel wheels. An optional F70x14” Wide Oval was again offered for 1968, this time as optional equipment on the base V8 and 390/4V equipped cars and as standard equipment on GT Equipment Group cars. The FR70x14” Wide Oval Radial ply tires made their first appearance as optional equipment on the base V8, 390, and GT Equipment Group cars, while being standard equipment on the new 427/4V optioned cars. Another new 185-R14” Radial ply was also available as optional equipment on the base V8, 390/4V, and GT Equipment Group cars. The FR70x14” and the 185xR14” tires were available with the 14x6 wheels. A new F70x14” Goodyear Polyglas was also used on the very rare 1968 ½ Cobra Jet Mustangs. 1968 was also the first year for an optional space-saver spare tire.

 

The FR70x14” Wide Oval Radial ply tires made their first appearance as optional equipment on the base V8, 390, and GT Equipment Group cars, while being standard equipment on the new 427/4V optioned cars. These tires can be sourced at Coker Tire.

 

The 1968 Mustang still only used two different types of wheels but now offered three sizes of wheels. The standard wheel for all Mustangs was again the same stamped steel wheel that was ventilated and used an integral safety-type design. The 6-cylinder Mustang used a 14x5.0” steel wheel as standard equipment. This 6-cylinder 14x5.0” wheel used 4 wheel studs to attach it to the car. The 1968 V8 (289/2V and 302/4V) cars used the same 14x5.0” steel wheel as used as standard equipment for the 1967 Mustang. This same steel wheel, manufactured in a 14x6 width, was used as standard equipment on the 390 cars. The 1968 V8 Mustang could again be purchased with an optional redesigned 14x6.0” Styled Steel wheel. The new Styled Steel wheel for 1968 incorporated a new slotted type design and was supplied in both argent silver and chrome. The new wheel also used a chrome trim ring and small chrome hubcap. If GT equipment was ordered, the letters “GT” was included on the hubcap. Both the stamped steel wheel and the Styled Steel wheels again used 5 wheel studs to attach the wheel to the car.

 

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