Absolute Originality

Octagon Newsletter … January 2001

Wayne Watkins

Recently, I have read a lot of articles on the restoration or rescue of collectible or vintage cars where the owner has focused on absolute originality for concours judging. I also tend to go toward the original look but, I now realize, there is a limit. That limit to more and more car enthusiasts whether British cars or old Chevy's is the tires.

Safety, while the car is on the road, is more important than the absolute correct tire from 1949 or 1965. Old tires become hard and cracked and less flexible. Some old (or original) tires are deceiving - they have plenty of tread but they have hard, cracked inflexible sidewalls. The dilemma is that many replacement tires, that are exact reproductions of the original, are very expensive and we tend to put off such purchases in favour of motoring along with the old original tires.

Regrettably, this has led to very bad consequences in some cases. If in doubt, take your tires to an experienced tire professional to check their condition for safety. If  new tires are needed, local stores may be able to help you, but you may find good information on the net and in British car magazines. That way, you can have tires that perform well and look very much like or close to the originals.

I now realize that my complaints, on handling of one older British sports car we had, could most likely have been traced to the 20 or even 30 year old tires on the car that looked good but were probably very tired and in reality not all that safe. Remember the old MG slogan - "Safety Fast". Keep the emphasis on the word "Safety".

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