Home Imp FAQ Imp Tire/Wheel Survey

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.
Front wheel size/type: 15 x 5 1/2 EMPI Sprint Stars
Adjustable front end added and dropped to give my Imp that raked look.
Love the look of Sprint Stars with high gloss black powder coating.

Rear tires: Mickey Thompson Baja Belted-60 Series.
Rear wheel size/type: 15 x 10 EMPI Sprint Stars
Rear torsion bars are set at maximum height for that pro-street look.
Mickeys and Sprint Stars are awesome together!

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 rims
Front Wheel Size: 15
Changes to front end: Adjustable front end / stabilizer kerscher / disc breaks

Rear Tire: (mfg, model, size) BF Goodrich 235/60HT15 Lemerz rims
Rear Wheel Size:15
Changes to back end: Stronger springs/shocks adjustable/ disc breaks/ wheel distance adapters

Buggy use: Street use , and soft off road.

Gene Jestus, Minnesota

Front Tire: Mastercraft Avenger GT P265/50R15
Front Wheel Size: Centerline Drag Rims 15X6 (no adapters)
Changes to front end: Would like to add adjusters this year to lighten up the pre-load.

Rear Tire: Mastercraft Avenger GT P205/50R15
Rear Wheel Size: Centerline drag rims 15X8.5 (no adapters) Changes to back end: Air Shocks & will be adding adjustable spring plates this year.

Buggy use: Street

Paul Kenny

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
Wheel Size: Douglas 15x5" aluminum
Changes to front end: Adjusters cranked up plus air bags until the maximum height is reached (starting 2001). No bumper snubs. Stock sway bar.
Comments: Cuts good and does not throw up sand. Plenty of fender clearance. Wears quick on blacktop and does not stop well. I had tried 3-rib tractor tires on stock beetle rims, but they rubbed where the pan meets the body. The rims could be run inside out, but I did not try this.

Rear Tire: Sand Tires Unlimited Desert Trak 14.50
Rear Wheel Size: Douglas 15x12" aluminum
Changes to back end: Air bags pumped to 150 lbs. plus a 2x4 block for extra height. 
Comments: Great traction, good on blacktop but the left tire rubs on the outside of the fender and on big dips, both tires hit the top of the fender well. No body damage yet, but it hits pretty hard.

For street and auto crossing (racing), I use:

Front Tire: General XP2000 II P205/60R15 M+S All Season 800/A/A
Front Wheel Size: American Racing (copy) 15x7.5.
Changes to front end: Adjusters loose so they act as sway bars plus air bags a little below center (starting 2001), no bumper snubs, wheel adaptors.
Comments: It handles very nicely with this setup. No rubbing of fenders at all.

Rear Tire: Cavalier SRX Steel Radial P275/60R15 1073 M+S (Tread 480/ Trac A/Temp B)
Rear Wheel Size: Centerline CLL-115103580 (15x10) {was American Racing (copy) 15x10}.
Changes to back end: Camber compensator and adjustable spring plates.
Comments: These tires just fit under the fenders. Lots of traction.

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
Changes to front end: 2.5" CB dropped spindles, adjusters

Rear Tire:  255 15 Goodyear TAs
Changes to back end: Torsion Bars dropped one spline, camber compensator


Back To: EMPI Imp Registry Home