A Beginner’s Guide To Buying Whitewall Tires

Whitewall tires, also known as white sidewall tires, are really popular with classic car enthusiasts. In the old days, whitewall tires were a premium upgrade, as they made your car look a bit flashier. (Red line tires were popular too. Read more about those here.)

Whitewall tire

A 1959 Rambler American with whitewall tires, via Christopher Ziemnowicz

In the six decades since whitewall tires became a hit, their popularity has dwindled some. However, they’re still considered a premium upgrade for classic cars, even today. That’s why there are a few companies that offer whitewalls in various sizes for classic cars. If a brand new set of whitewalls is in your budget, this guide is for you.

Where To Buy Whitewall Tires

A few tire manufacturers produce whitewall tires, the major ones being:

  • Coker Tire
  • BF Goodrich
  • Goodyear
  • American Classic
  • Firestone
Firestone whitewall

A brand new Firestone whitewall, via Kevin Stanchfield

You can purchase whitewalls from reputable websites that sell classic car tires, or you can have your local classic car shop order the tires for you.

Whitewall Tire Options

There are two different types of whitewalls. Let’s explore each option to figure out which one fits your needs the most.

Bias-ply Whitewalls

You can buy bias-ply whitewalls, which a lot of classic car enthusiasts will do if they’re interested in being as authentic as possible. Bias-ply tires aren’t really used for new vehicles anymore (outside of extreme off-roading), because bias-ply tires don’t last very long and are prone to blowouts when used on the street. However, if you need to have a car that’s original as possible, this is the way to go.

Whitewall Radials

Whitewall radials are a better choice for classic car owners who want to drive their car regularly. They last longer, are less likely to blow-out, and have better traction.

Tips For Buying And Mounting Whitewall Tires

Buying whitewall tires isn’t like buying regular tires. There are some things you have to keep in mind to ensure that you get the best driving and showing experience possible with your whitewall tires. We have a few important tips for you:

  1. When you pay someone to mount the tires, make sure they have experience with whitewalls. An inexperienced technician can accidentally scuff up the whitewalls and ruin them.
  2. If you decide to buy a set of bias-ply whitewalls, make sure the technician mounting the tires knows how to handle bias-ply tires. If the tires are installed incorrectly, the tubes can get punctured.
  3. Decide which tread pattern you want first before shopping for whitewalls. There are a lot of tread pattern options available. Some patterns are meant to look like they’re original, older tires. This is great if you’re shooting for authenticity but bad if you’re shooting for traction and performance.
Nash tire

A spare whitewall tire mounted on the back of a 1932 Nash 1082R Ambassador Rumble Seat Coupe, via Christopher Ziemnowicz

We’d love to see your whitewalls – share pictures with us on Facebook!