What tyre should I fit to my Jaguar XK120, XK140 or XK150?

(Archived post from February 2014)

When considering tyres for your Jaguar XK120, XK140 or XK150 there are plenty of options to consider.  Here are a few thoughts to help you make the right choice.

Jaguar XK120 on Dunlop RS5To summarise:

Crossply or radial?

Crossply tyres offer original specification, looks and performance and lighter handling, but may tramline and wander more than radials.  Radials may make the handling heavier but be more sure footed and closer to your modern car to drive for when you switch to your XK for the weekend!

Crossply choices

Any Jaguar XK would originally have been fitted with Dunlop 600-16 highspeed crossply tyres, and these tyre are still available – The Dunlop Roadspeed RS5.  If authenticity is paramount, this is the tyre to have.  It is also a good choice as it is made in England, and has a high speed rating.  The other crossply tyre to consider would be an Avon Turbospeed; also a period highspeed tyre made in England, it also has the type of tread pattern that an XK would have been fitted at the time.

For race use, the 600-16 Dunlop R5 (not to be confused with the RS5!) is still available – a crossply race tyre that is authentic and still made in England, it is also these days road legal so competitors can drive to the track.  Different competitions have different rules for eligibility – but in those where a crossply tyre is required the best performance comes from a Dunlop.  These days some competitions specify radial options.

Other crossply tyres are available in 600-16, but they are not the best choices for the XK – tyres such as the Waymaster, Avon Tourist, Firestone and Lester have the right dimensions, but are not a suitable speed rating for this sort of car, and are better suited to slower European saloons and American cars from the period.  An XK Jaguar looks right with a crossply that has the sort of pattern of the RS5 or Turbospeed, it would not have had a more aggressive pattern than that for road use and these two are as advanced as crossply tyre design got so offer the best performance of this sort of tyre.

Radial choices

avonTurbosteel

f you choose to fit radials, there is one tyre that stands out..    Avon designed the Turbosteel 185R16 to combine a classic tread pattern with advanced radial technology and high performance, so by choosing this tyre you are getting the best of both worlds.  Not only is it made in England, but its overwhelming popularity enables it to be made in larger production runs, keeping the price lower than the other choices as well.  Vredesteins are a popular choice, as they are a European made tyre with a classic pattern, however Vredestein has increasd the price significantly over recent years, and these tyres have a lower speed rating than some other choices.  Vredestein have sponsored the XK race series for many years.  Michelin’s X has a period radial tread pattern, and tall narrow carcass but its speed rating is lower than appropriate for an XK.  Pirelli’s Cinturato is a period tread pattern with a high speed rating and is popular for its appearance, but it is a less advanced radial than the Avon at a higher price, and this tyre is not E-marked or ECE tested in the way an Avon is.  Michelins Pilote Sport 600R16 is a very high performance tyre, and offers excellent grip, and is popular in races where it is eligible, but at a price.

We have compiled this information into a chart below:

Size Tyre Speed Rating Advantages Disadvantages
Crossply
600H16 Avon Turbospeed H-130mph Period Tyre, Made In England, Suitable Speed Rating, Correct Type of tread pattern
600H16 Dunlop RS5 H-130mph Original Equipment Tyre, Period Tyre, Made In England, Suitable Speed Rating, Correct Type of tread pattern
600-16 Dunlop R5 (race but road legal) H-130mph Period race tyre, best perfoming crossply race tyre Designed for race use with no compromise so in terms of longevity etc may not be best choice for road
Radial
185R16 Avon Turbosteel V-150mph Period tread pattern, classic looks with the best possible performance for an XK – designed by Avon Motorsport in Melksham, Made in England, Its popularity enables larger batches to be produced keeping price lower
185R16 Vredestein Sprint Classic H-130mph Made in Europe (Holland), Good quality, Classic Pattern Lower speed rating than some other radials, higher price
185R16 Michelin X S-113mph Period tread pattern, Narrow Carcass Too low a speed rating for an XK
185R16 Pirelli Cinturato V-150mph Period tread pattern, Narrow Carcass, V- speed rating Price high, older technology radial
600R16 Michelin Pilote Sport W-168mph Period race-type pattern, highest speed rating, high performance Higher price, race rather than road tread pattern
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