The following survey is designed to help Imp owners share with other owners their trials and tribulations regarding tires and wheels. If you have ever walked into a tire shop and asked "What do you have for that buggy in the parking lot", you will appreciate this page.
Wayne Herring, Lubbock, Texas - Serial #1011
Front tires: Michelin X Radial 185/15's.
Rear tires: Mickey Thompson Baja Belted-60 Series.
My buggy is street legal and serves as an off road adventure toy too.
Hermann Heigl, Munich, Germany - EMPI Imp #374 or #1211
Front Tire: (mfg, model, size) Pirelli / p7 185/70SR15 Lemerz
Rear Tire: (mfg, model, size) BF Goodrich 235/60HT15 Lemerz rims
Buggy use: Street use , and soft off road.
Gene Jestus, Minnesota
Front Tire: Mastercraft Avenger GT P265/50R15
Rear Tire: Mastercraft Avenger GT P205/50R15
Buggy use: Street
The wheels I use are what the Imp came with. For a Gran Sport Imp it's Sprint Stars 8" in the front and 10" in the rear. For an Imp without the side pods and rear cover it's also Sprint Stars 6" in the front and 8" in the rear. As for tires, it seems that they used whatever they could find. I use BF Goodrich TA's because they are available in wide sizes with the large white side lettering. If you really wanted to make a correct build list, I can tell you exactly what was used in every part of the car, ie '70 wiper assy. with early bus arms and bug blades. You can call me if you want and I'll give you the entire story on it.
Bryant Johnson, Mulberry, Florida
IMP# unknown 1973 IRS frame & chassis with Goodyear Eagle rears 245-50 on 10" wide 15" four lug chrome five star rims from Fisher Buggies that the chrome pealed off less than a year but I had them refinished, on the front 7" wide chrome five stars with 165-15 generals four lugs, street driven mainly and the previous owner had taken out 2 of the spring plates in the front beam in a attempt to lower the front which made for a bumpy ride at high speed, but my buggy is still nimble 7 turns sharply....Bryant from Florida
Bob Johnson - EMPI Imp #1013 2/25/01
My rear tires are 265/75 R15 on 8 inch wide wheels with standard VW offset, the front are 205/65 R15 with 6 inch wide wheels also standard offset. I have been very pleased with this combination as it provides plenty of ride height for off-road use and also looks good on the street. The 265's are the same size as 31 x 10.50 light truck tires but flex and ride much better for a car of this weight. A bonus is that they are a lot cheaper than truck tires. One thing to consider is transaxle gearing. I am running 4.12 to 1 gears but will soon be changing to 4.86 to 1. With the 4.12 gears I struggle with mountain trails above 11-12,000 feet and I rarely use 4th gear unless on the highway. Don't get me wrong, the higher gears are okay but 4.86's would be much better.
On the front, I took one full width layer and one half width layer out of the torsion leaves in both the top and bottom tubes and cut up the removed pieces to make a spacer for the center and end points where the clamp nuts hold the torsion leaves. Also, the drop limiters have been removed. These changes makes the front end work normally with the reduced weight of the buggy. I didn't use an adjustable center for setting the height because it wouldn't clear the body of an Imp.
On the rear I set the spring plate angles with the initial dropped position at a drop angle of 18 degrees. Set in this manner the spring plates should not be on the lower stops when the buggy is assembled. While you're considering spring plates, I also recommend you check the spring plate drop angle when the plates are in but still hanging on the lower stop. You may need to build up one or both of these stops to make them drop to the same angle and to make a good flat lip to catch the spring plate in its bottom position. I used stock used torsion bars and I don't recommend new ones, they will be too stiff. The skinny used ones with lots of miles are much better for the light weight buggy and will provide a decent ride.
My buggy is used for off-road, highway and sand. The only time I change tires is to go to the dunes and I then use Dessert Trak 12.00 paddles on 10 inch wheels also with standard (3.5 inch) offset on the rear. I set the paddles at 8 psig and they work nicely. I don't have any tire clearance problems with any of these applications other than a minor tire touch to the pan in extreme reverse situations and that has not created any damage. I am not required to change the suspension for changes in use.
Paul Moran, Illinois - EMPI Imp #1002 2/21/01
For SAND at Silver Lake Michigan, I use:
Front Tire: Sand Tires Unlimited 4.5 Smoothie Front
Rear Tire: Sand Tires Unlimited Desert Trak 14.50
For street and auto crossing (racing), I use:
Front Tire: General XP2000 II P205/60R15 M+S All Season 800/A/A
Rear Tire: Cavalier SRX Steel Radial P275/60R15 1073 M+S (Tread 480/ Trac
Bob Ochsman, Northern Virginia - EMPI Imp #1490 6/2/01
I wanted to get the front end as low as possible, and I think the final look I got is just what I was looking for.
Front Tire: 135R 15 tires
Rear Tire: 255 15 Goodyear TAs
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