What size wheels and tires for our Bugeye Sprite? | Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite Project

Photography by Tim Suddard

To obtain maximum performance, we wanted the largest and widest tire and wheel package that we could fit under a stock-bodied Bugeye Sprite. We talked to a couple of experts including Jeff Porada at The Winner’s Circle.

The consensus is that the biggest setup possible is a 13x6-inch wheel with a 185/60R13 tire. Alex Knickerbocker from VTO Wheels added that we might have to use a small spacer in the rear to keep the tire from rubbing against the rear springs.

[Running on old tires vs. new tires]

The wheels were easy, as VTO offers its 13x6-inch Classic 8 wheels in the correct 4x4-inch bolt pattern for our Sprite.

We also wanted to use 7/16-inch wheel studs instead of the Sprite’s original, puny 3/8-inch-diameter wheel studs. Again, Alex said he had no problem accommodating this modification.

We opted for the classic silver with a machined lip, but VTO offers several options. These wheels sell for about $170 each, which is quite reasonable.

Finding tires was a bit trickier. Not many companies make this size, and even fewer offer it in sporty compounds suitable for street use. Yes, race rubber exists in this size, but that might be too much tire for the chassis. We’d like to retain some ’60s feel–back when a car could dance around a bit.

[How to get fresh, modern tires that retain those period-correct looks]

But we found a tire that should work well for us. Federal Tire, perhaps a newer brand in the U.S. yet a firm that dates back to 1954, offers its Super Steel 595 model in our needed 185/60R13 size. This model is billed as a four-season tire yet doesn’t look like one.

We will let you know how this combination works once when we get the car finished. We can build an engine and stitch together an interior, but tires aren’t something that can just be conjured up. We think this setup will work quite well for our little monster.

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RadBarchetta
RadBarchetta New Reader
8/10/21 7:30 a.m.

Good luck. I'm assuming you got the +13 offset wheels they have listed? I fit 185 tires on +22 wheels on my GT6 and had to massage the fenders a bit and adjust the ride height so they wouldn't rub. I'm interested to see what you run into with lower offset wheels on a narrower car...

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
8/10/21 9:15 a.m.

I just went to Federal's website, out of curiosity, and for all the red, white, and blue buntings and hoopla, these pretty much look like "Made In China" rim protectors. ( look at "about us" )

RadBarchetta
RadBarchetta New Reader
8/10/21 1:18 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

Made in Taiwan, not China. Federal is a mid-grade manufacturer. Not quite on the level of your Michelins and Pirellis, but definitely a few steps above the Travelstars and Westlakes that you find at Sam's Club.

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
8/10/21 1:32 p.m.

In reply to RadBarchetta :

I think we're picking political/geographic nits here. Taiwan is part of the Republic of China. My real point here is that it's inferred that these are American products and they are, in fact, not. They may be wonderful tires, but right now I hesitate to knowingly purchase anything from China and/or Taiwan. Having said that, I keep finding out that many of my so-called American products are actually made in China, no likee.

Panamericano
Panamericano New Reader
8/10/21 4:10 p.m.

If you decide you want more grip, Avon has the ZZS in 185/55/13.  Should be available through specialists like Beachman Racing, Roger Kraus, Birkin USA.

RadBarchetta
RadBarchetta New Reader
8/10/21 5:29 p.m.

In reply to 300zxfreak :

Negative. I think you need to read up on the history of Taiwan and the communist takeover of China in 1949. Unless you agree with the communists, Taiwan is an independent state.

But to your point, I guess the name "Federal" and the red/white/blue logo might lead someone to believe they are American, but I think that's a bit of a stretch. Other than that I don't see any evidence that they are trying to give people that impression, but that's just me.

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