by Shane Ingate, email@example.com
I've been asked by several members of the Triumphs list to expand upon my latest acquisition; a set of Panasport 15"x7" (+0mm-offset, 3.9"-backspace, silver finish), for "Rags" (1974 TR6, Comm #CF25186UO). This article will be put on the Vintage Triumph Register's WWW pages for posterity.
Before I start, many thanks to Roger Bolick ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) who preceded my purchase and helped enormously in this venture, and Ken Streeter and Bob Lang for their discussions on tyre choice.
I purchased the DOT-approved versions from "K-Speed". The price is $189 each if you belong to a bona fide club they recognize. Shipping was $30 (from Florida to San Diego), and the wheel nuts are good value at $2 each; they are very well made, chromed and radiused.
For me, the wheels bolted right on, with no immediate clearance problems. However, Roger Bolick appeared to have some problems with the upper A-arm bolt, and so he replaced the 2.5" grade-8 bolts with a 2.25" grade-8 and reversed them. I did the same. Roger also noted that I could use only "stick on" weights on the inside of the wheel, as the upper-A-arm would rip off normal weights. Ditto for me.
At first I did not note any clearance problems, but there has been some slight rubbing on the left-hand rim only, incurred at (near?) full-lock and at speed. I wonder why? Anyway, an angle-grinder soon cured that; I removed some of the non-structural component from the upper A-arm where it was rubbing. I've not noticed any tyre rubbing.
I have heard that some others have had more significant rubbing problems with the 15"x7" Panasports, while others don't. If you want a simple bolt-on and play, go with the 6". I was prepared for a hassle and wanted the more aggressive lines of the 7", so that's the route I went.
I've not gone over the suspension yet, but I will be going the rubber-bushing route soon. I won't be going the urethane route because I would like to preserve some compliancy in the ride. I don't want to change the way it handles too much, but I will rebush the stock sway-bars in urethane.
As for tyres, I am running the same BFG 205/70 "Touring T/A's" that I had on the steel rims. Not very sticky with a lot of sidewall flex, but they have very similar diameter to the original red-lines. I did contemplate Yoko, Bridgestone Potenza's or Dunlop M40s in 215/65 (which have the same diameter) or 215/60 (will lower the car 1/2" or so and alter my odometer readings). However, I note that anything larger than 205 width will have the front tyres protruding beyond the front fenderwell. When I look at the car from the front, the track does "seem" to have widened. It must be due to the extra width and different offset/backspace of the Pana wheel. This would be exagerated further if you use 1/4" spacers.
Had I kept the original steel wheels, I could go to a larger size without this problem. Now I'm glad I stuck with the 205s.
Because I am using the same tyres that I had on the steel rims, a "driving" comparison of the two rims is possible. The car seems to steer better now than with the steel wheels; perhaps the steel wheels were flexing? The car seems better balanced in uneven corners, probably because of lower unsprung weight and extra track.
They look fabulous! British cars look great on Minilites and their look-a-likes. IMHO, I think darker-coloured cars benefit the most, because the wheels are very bright! I'm keeping the steel rims for originality.
San Diego, CA
1974 TR6, CF25186UO