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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/13/22 12:38 p.m.
feature_image

Our E46-chassis BMW M3 came from the factory wearing 18-inch wheels. The European-only CSL package added 19s.

A little while back, we went to 17-inch Apex ARC-8 wheels at all four corners of our M3. Why’s that? Less expensive consumables (i.e., tires) plus, let’s be honest, the 17-inch…

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
4/14/22 9:11 a.m.

I'll admit I didn't do a whole bunch of research, but it was my understanding that if I wanted a decent wheel and tire package for my Fit I'd have to downsize from the 16-inch wheels to 15-inch ones.

I think it's a good look, IMO:

albino09
albino09 New Reader
4/14/22 10:48 a.m.

Question from another E46 owner looking at the same spec. Is there enough space there to fit 275/40/17? You can get RT660s in that size and I'm looking for the most tire I can fit comfortably in an STU prep car.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/14/22 10:58 a.m.
Colin Wood said:

I'll admit I didn't do a whole bunch of research, but it was my understanding that if I wanted a decent wheel and tire package for my Fit I'd have to downsize from the 16-inch wheels to 15-inch ones.

I think it's a good look, IMO:

Going from 12" to 10" on my classic Mini just transformed the car. It worked so much better.

NB Miata owners have been downsizing from 16" or 17" to 15" for years.

02Pilot
02Pilot UberDork
4/14/22 11:09 a.m.

Seriously considering taking my 2002 down from 15" to the factory 13", if I can find some half-decent tires in 175 or 185/70-13.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/14/22 11:11 a.m.

13" is difficult these days. I ended up going from 13" to 15" on my CRX and it ended up being an improvement simply because of the available tires. Everything in 13" was some sort of terrible 800TW budget no-name tire with no real abilities other than "cheap".

Tom1200
Tom1200 UltraDork
4/14/22 11:11 a.m.

If you are talking a street car I'm all about whatever gives you more choices and saves money.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/14/22 11:17 a.m.

The M3 does feel a little lighter on its feet with the 17s and, since it’s a slow news day, we figured it was a good opportunity to share a recent photo.

If that were my car, I'd be coming up with thin excuses to share that photo as well. The wheels look fantastic.

obsolete
obsolete HalfDork
4/14/22 11:22 a.m.

That looks like the perfect amount of tire to me.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/14/22 11:44 a.m.
albino09 said:

Question from another E46 owner looking at the same spec. Is there enough space there to fit 275/40/17? You can get RT660s in that size and I'm looking for the most tire I can fit comfortably in an STU prep car.

As came up recently in the "twin spoke wheel" thread, I have 275/35R18s on my E46 M3, so I would imagine those 17s should be OK.  Fenders were rolled by the pro race shop that built the car so I'm not sure exactly what was needed, but it didn't require paint.

I think the biggest question on 17 vs 18 for this car comes down to how much brake you want to be able to fit.

 

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/14/22 11:46 a.m.
Keith Tanner said:

NB Miata owners have been downsizing from 16" or 17" to 15" for years.

The big problem with 16" is that there aren't many decent tires available in that diameter.

02Pilot
02Pilot UberDork
4/14/22 11:46 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

That's my concern. I know there are some repros of vintage tires in useable sizes, like the Pirelli CN36, but they aren't cheap. I don't think there's anything much modern in the sizes I'm looking for; I can get BFG Radial T/As in 205/60-13 if I want to go up in width, but I really don't at this point.

albino09
albino09 New Reader
4/14/22 12:41 p.m.
codrus (Forum Supporter) said:
albino09 said:

Question from another E46 owner looking at the same spec. Is there enough space there to fit 275/40/17? You can get RT660s in that size and I'm looking for the most tire I can fit comfortably in an STU prep car.

As came up recently in the "twin spoke wheel" thread, I have 275/35R18s on my E46 M3, so I would imagine those 17s should be OK.  Fenders were rolled by the pro race shop that built the car so I'm not sure exactly what was needed, but it didn't require paint.

I think the biggest question on 17 vs 18 for this car comes down to how much brake you want to be able to fit.

 

Yeah I know that 275s will fit on an E46, but specifically I was curious about fitment related to the ET35 wheel up front. My car is lowered with the Dinan progressive springs and I'm worried the barrel of the spring might fall too close to the tire at this size and offset. 255 is not enough front tire for this car to compete against the other crazy machinery in STU with a ceiling over 300.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/14/22 12:48 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

The M3 does feel a little lighter on its feet with the 17s and, since it’s a slow news day, we figured it was a good opportunity to share a recent photo.

If that were my car, I'd be coming up with thin excuses to share that photo as well. The wheels look fantastic.

Thank you. Let's just say that we often write with an ear for what that one guy on the internet will say....

By the way, that's just a camera photo taken at a nearby park. Real photo shoot to come soon. 

Thanks again. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/14/22 12:49 p.m.

In reply to albino09 :

The car was just on the alignment rack–like 30 minutes ago–but let me see if I can get an idea for clearance for you.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/14/22 2:59 p.m.

Kinda related, anyone here still running 14s on a Miata?

ian sane
ian sane Dork
4/14/22 3:09 p.m.

I love a good meaty tire setup. I have the same size and type of tire on my e30.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/14/22 3:13 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Kinda related, anyone here still running 14s on a Miata?

I am, actually. Miata #338 is still on a set of 1990 Miata daises. I also have a 1990 on 16s, because SSR Integrals are cool.

eastsideTim
eastsideTim PowerDork
4/14/22 3:19 p.m.
David S. Wallens said:

Kinda related, anyone here still running 14s on a Miata?

I am.  Switched from 15s with 200TW tires to stock 14" wheels with some touring tires, mostly because I was going to end up in a ditch or with a reckless driving ticket, or both, with the autox tires.

I have a set of 80's wheels from some sort of Chrysler product I want to try on it to see how they look, just haven't gotten around to it yet (and need to make or buy center caps for them).

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
4/14/22 3:55 p.m.
 

The M3 does feel a little lighter on its feet with the 17s and, since it’s a slow news day, we figured it was a good opportunity to share a recent photo.

It would be interesting to know the weight difference between the 17" and 18" wheel/tire combinations, chances are the 17" ones are lighter.

From a purely aesthetic viewpoint I like to see some tire sidewall on a car, and in general daily use they tend to be more practical when dealing with potholes or other bumps on public roads.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/14/22 4:09 p.m.
stuart in mn said:

It would be interesting to know the weight difference between the 17" and 18" wheel/tire combinations, chances are the 17" ones are lighter.

I went and looked it up, but it's hard to say.  Using Apex ARC-8s and Azenis RT660s since they were mentioned earlier in the thread, and going for the same overall dimensions (width and diameter):

Wheel weights here:  https://www.bimmerworld.com/Wheels-Tires/Wheels/APEX-ARC-8-Wheel.html

Tire weights here:  https://www.tirerack.com/tires/Spec.jsp?tireMake=Falken&tireModel=Azenis+RT660

17x10 wheel is 18.45 pounds (let's call it 18.5), 275/40R17 is 30 pounds.

18x10 wheel is 19.95 pounds (call it 20), 275/35R18 is 29 pounds.

So half a pound heavier per corner, but the tire weights are only specified to the nearest pound so that may not be a real difference.  I'd call them the same.

Also, wow the RT660s are heavy tires.

NickD
NickD MegaDork
4/14/22 4:11 p.m.

Every time I see an E46 or an E39, I'm blown away with how well those two designs have aged. 

Berck
Berck Reader
4/14/22 7:49 p.m.

I too am running a Miata with 14" factory wheels, but only in the winter.  Given that I don't commute any more and I have too many cars to justify driving the nice miata in the snow, that's probably ending soon.  I think the Falkens are the last decent 14" performance tires.

The SSR Integrals are cool (so glad you're still running those all these years later), but I still think the SSR Competition is the best looking wheel ever made on a Miata.  Now that I can afford a set, finding them is probably hard.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
4/14/22 8:48 p.m.

In reply to codrus (Forum Supporter) :

That's interesting - I thought the 18" combo would be heavier.  I suppose it all depends on the particular tires and wheels, although as the diameter increases the weight of the wheels will be more and more of an issue.

PT_SHO
PT_SHO New Reader
4/15/22 10:28 p.m.

In reply to albino09 :

My pal with his E46 says this is what he was running: 18x10 et43 with 12-15mm spacers. 295/30-18    (he sold it this year).  We both ran in STU (he's moved to CAM-C with a 'Stang GT PP).   Yup, 255's are not great but it's all I can fit under the fenders of my '06 STI as STU-class does not allow any rolling and keeping fender liners.  He ran RE-71R, Yok 052, RT-660's.  Yeah the latter are heavier in any given size.  And the Falkens run wide.

 So you've got some hope for wider.  He was on coilovers so clearance can vary somewhat by brand.

FWIW thought it was GRM that did a test several years ago of a Mini with progressively larger wheels and found that the heavier wheels with more metal further out were clearly slower on acceleration.

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