Lotus Elan

ultimate wheel width, moder tyres

PostPost by: h20hamelan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:07 pm

What is the answer as to where the +2 should be sitting on the road.
I have read posts of a 6x14 which sounds to hold the road with whatever qualities the owner says.
Same goes for 5x13
Again for 5.5x13
What Tyre choices again.
I wish I worked at a TyreRack test facility, even if it were only for a few days!

I am not racing, driving on decent roads. But understand that the Elan and +2 were designed for wheel/tyre combos of the day.

What would be a way to ask for an argument on this Forum, as to what is the best.
Could it go into offset and width too?

Born, and brought home from the hospital (no seat belt (wtf)) in a baby!
Find out where the limits are, and start from there
Love your Mother
User avatar
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
Posts: 1083
Joined: 25 Sep 2010
Location: RACECAR spelled backward, is——RACECAR!

PostPost by: msd1107 » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:14 pm


The question of tyres and wheels on the Elan is a complicated subject. The Elan was produced for almost a decade, and the tyre and wheel choice reflect what was acceptable for the period. Thus tyre size started out as 5.2-13 with 13X4.5 wheels, moving to 145-13 and 155-13 tyres. The narrow 4.5 width wheel was considered acceptable for the 5.2 tyre in those days, although wider wheels are considered more desirable today.

The +2 used 165-13 tyres with 13X5.5 wheels.

Stock steel wheels, whether bolt-on or knock-off are NLA. The original wheels are very light weight, and, at 40+ years old, are often suspect unless well maintained and/or refurbished. Much heavier replacements were manufactured at one time.

After market aluminum (and magnesium) wheels have been produced during the years. Minilite still make 13" and 14" aluminum wheels in both bolt-on and knock-off for the Elan and +2, although the weights have crept up during the years. There are posts from users and their adventures with these wheels.

If you have knock-off wheels, that is about the market. Bolt-on wheels have many more options, since wheel manufacturers often cater to any reasonable bolt circle, wheel size, rim width, and offset. Some have a Minilite or 26R lookalike wheel in aluminum in various weights and sometimes in magnesium. Superlite has aluminum wheels in three weight ranges (with commensurate pricing) plus 26R look alike magnesium wheels in 13, 14, and 15 sizes.

Tyres are another problem area. The standard 155-13 and 165-13 tyres are no longer used on high performance production cars. The replacement market is generally oriented to inexpensive, low performance sedan replacements (meant for 3000 lb sedans, not 1600 lb Elans) with the exception of the Michelin XAS which is often considered too pricy.

It should be noted that Lotus specified S rated tyres, while the XAS is H rated and a well modified Elan with a 5-speed probably should be shod with V rated tyres. However, given wide wheels (5.5 or 6) and high tyre pressures (30+ psi rear or 2.1 bar) a H rated tyre should be safe enough.

Replacement tyres probably should be close in diameter to the original tyres. The 155-13 tyre has a rev/mile figure of 912, the 165-13 is 887. Other tyre sizes close in diameter to the 155-13 are 185/55-15, 175/65-14, 185/60-14, 175/70-13, and 175/55-15. Tyre sizes close in diameter to the 165-13 are 175/70-14, 185/65-14, 195/55-15, 175/60-15, 185/70-13, and 195/60-14. A size intermediate in value is 165/70-14.

There is a down loadable spreadsheet 20080411zGearRatios.xls that is available at viewtopic.php?p=82911 at the bottom. It has a sheet TiresS that has tyre sizes sorted by rev/mile so that you can see all combinations close to a particular size. The tyre size has a clickable link to TireRack (it used to work years ago, anyway) so that you can see different manufacturers for each size, at least for US customers.

There is another down loadable spreadsheet at elan-f15/updated-spreadsheets-t18445.html that offers different views of tyre/diff/rpm etc. It also has tyre rev/mile data.

Every body will have their opinions on this, but this gives you the raw information with which to do your research.

1968 36/7988
User avatar
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
Posts: 856
Joined: 24 Sep 2003
Location: Hollywood, CA USA

PostPost by: peterako » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:08 am

Execellent summary of much research David!

I have driven my +2 on 165 80 R13's since I got it (more or less) and love the combination, feel, steering and handling characteristics.

I would consider my driving preference 'fast road' and these tyres keep me sensible. Grip is more than adequate. If it were better then I'd probably get myself into a bit of trouble.....

I have Michelins on the car at the moment.

No matter how 'big' the tyre one cannot account for stupid (and I use the word intentionally) other road users.

Was dropping my child to school this morning, in the snow......a good distance behind a Subaru Legacy (4WD, ABS etc).

We were heading down up an inclind when the Subabu decided to stop dead.
OK, with their 4WD they'd get going again....my options were limited....brake....and possibly slide into them or get stuck on the hill....or overtake...(picked option 2).

But no matter what tyres I had the options would probably have been the same.

No matter what tyres you have on there are going to be some limitations vs a modern car, especialy on the wet/ice/snow etc.

The other main issue to consider, as David points out, is availabity of tyres. And 'decent' (actually ANY) 165 13 tyres are becomming hard to find.

I may find myself on 14" wheels next time as the price of my 165 13's are flying up.... :(

Best of luck,
I is an Inginear....please excuse my speeling!
'73 +2S 130/5
Scimitar GTE for the lazy days, 3008, Some bicycles, Wife, Kids, Cats, Dogs....chickens....cluck cluck...one duck...the others flew away!
User avatar
Fourth Gear
Fourth Gear
Posts: 713
Joined: 02 Mar 2006
Location: A (windy) bog in Ireland

PostPost by: h20hamelan » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:05 pm

Thanks and well worded David

I have seen most of the information, and I do have KO's and would like to keep em. Though I check em and stretch my legs often I am sure there is more safety with 4 bolt.

Back to my comment of working for TyreRack. I do not. I was hoping for people who may have some experience E.G. Replaced their 13 with 14's and did not like the 1__ x 14 tyre but enjoyed the 1__ x 14.

Also if there were to be the ultimate 14" what would it be. Panasport does not yet, would a steel built in 14 work?

any thoughts appreciated

kind regards
Born, and brought home from the hospital (no seat belt (wtf)) in a baby!
Find out where the limits are, and start from there
Love your Mother
User avatar
Coveted Fifth Gear
Coveted Fifth Gear
Posts: 1083
Joined: 25 Sep 2010
Location: RACECAR spelled backward, is——RACECAR!

PostPost by: daniel » Tue May 26, 2015 9:06 am

I have another question on the eternal tyre issue! I have a 1968 Lotus Elan plus 2 with Pirelli 165/80 13 tyres.
I use the car very little - just normal road work. On a sharp lock the tyres sometimes hit the front wheel arch. I have found Goodyear replacements at a reasonable cost. They can also supply 165/70 13 tyres which might resolve the problem as the wall is less high if I understand this properly. Is this a good idea - any negative side effects? Thank you. Daniel
Posts: 1
Joined: 26 May 2015
Location: London

PostPost by: frogeyesimon » Tue May 26, 2015 1:03 pm


I have just fitted a set of Goodyear Duragrip 165/80/13 tyres to my road-going +2. The car runs just fine on them and I'm more than happy with their level of grip

1968 +2S 130 50/1189
1959 Frogeye Sprite
Second Gear
Second Gear
Posts: 74
Joined: 12 Jun 2014
Location: Hampshire

Total Online:

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests