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Wheels and Tires
Ford Mustang Cobra
The Cobra R-style wheel, first used on
the 1995 Cobra R, is a popular choice
with enthusiasts. The 17- x 9-inch
wheel clears most aftermarket
big-brake conversions. (Photo
courtesy Travis Thompson)
Tires: round… black… seductive… oh, sorry, I was getting a little carried away. Changing the tires
on your Mustang makes a more dramatic improvement than any other change. I’ll repeat that for
those of you who weren't listening – changing the tires on your car makes the single biggest
improvement to the car’s performance. This is important stuff! This is why if you go to the track to
watch professional racing, racers are constantly changing tires. Soon after a race tire starts getting
hot on the track, the performance starts to deteriorate just a tiny bit. Fresh tires are usually used
for qualifying to eke out that last tenth of a second. Tires may be scrubbed in for a few laps to heat
cycle them, then stored away until the race, not to be used again until racing begins. If the racers
run in the rain, different tires are required again, and if the track is just wet, but with no standing
water, you guessed it, a different tire again. Even going from one race track to another may require
changing to a tire with a different compound.
I know, you’re listening to this and thinking, “Wow, if it’s this complicated for racers, how am I ever
going to choose a good tire for my Mustang?” Well, like most things, tires are a compromise. If you
get one with excellent grip on dry roads, it may not be so good in the wet. A high-performance tire is
not likely to provide good traction in the snow. Performance enthusiasts often have more than one
set of tires for their car, allowing them to choose the correct tool for the job. Not everyone wants to
or needs to have multiple sets of tires. Much of the decision about tires boils down to how the car is
used and where you live. Obviously, if you live in the snow belt and your Mustang is your only car,
you either have two sets of tires, or you live with an all-season radial, not a bad tire, but not really
good at any one particular job. On the other hand, if your Stang is a summer-only ride, you can get
by with one type of tire. We are going to cover all the different options, both for street and track,
summer and winter.

SN95 Mustangs came with a wide array of standard tire sizes depending on the model. Base V-6
Mustangs usually came with 15-inch wheels and 225/55/16 rubber. GT Mustangs came with 16-inch
wheels and tires standard (17s were optional), while the ’96-2004 Cobra rode on 17-inch rubber.
The 2000 Cobra R checks in with the largest factory rubber, at 18 inches. Below is a matrix with all
the standard tire sizes, along with the wheel diameter and width.
Staying with the factory wheel, we can often change the size of the tire somewhat and improve the
handling performance without replacing the wheels. Tire manufacturers list wheel width ranges
suitable for a particular tire they manufacture. They also list checking rim sizes (the width of rim
used when the tire was developed) to determine the section width, diameter, and circumference. If
we mount a tire on a rim width other than the checking width rim, our overall diameter or section
width of the mounted tire may vary from the manufacturer’s specifications. Usually, this isn’t a big
deal, but just so you know, it can and will vary.

Most people also assume that a 245/40/17 tire is the same size from
several different tire manufacturers. Wrong! For each tire size, the tire can fall within a range of
dimensions as determined by the tire council. What this means for the consumer is that a particular
tire size can vary by more than an inch in width between manufacturers. Certain manufacturers
tend to be on the large end of the size range, while others tend to produce tires on the smaller end
of the range. When you are close to the limit for clearance, this can be an important factor in
deciding exactly what tires to use. The safest route to ensuring proper fitment is to consult with a
wheel and tire shop that has fitted the tire/wheel combo you are considering.
Okay, so we want to upgrade our rubber, and for right now, we‘re going to stay with the factory rim.
The following is broken down based on the type of use the Mustang is going to see.
Street Performance
This driver wants a better tire than the original-equipment tire, and it must be capable of both good
dry and wet weather performance. This driver is not going to use these tires in snow – ever. The
car may see a Fun Ford drag race once a year, an MCA car show, or even do a day of open track
with SVTOA, but not at an extremely competitive level. In other words, this driver needs a good all-
round performer. Good tires in this class include the BFGoodrich G-Force KDW, Pirelli P Zero, and
Toyo T1-R.
Toyo T1-R Tire BFGoodrich g-Force KDW Pirelli P Zero
Toyo T1-R
BFGoodrich g-Force KDW
Pirelli P Zero
Ulitimate Street Performance
These tires probably won’t ever get hot enough on the street to fulfill their promise of ultimate grip,
but this driver wants to know he/she has the best tire available for dry grip. (This driver probably
does not live in rainy Seattle.) The BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD, Toyo Proxes RA1, Yokohama
Advan A032R, and Pirelli Pzero Corsa are included in this class.
BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD Toyo Proxes RA1 Yokohama Advan A048
BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD
Toyo Proxes RA1
Yokohama Advan A048
Weekend Warrior
This driver engages in weekend drag racing, doesn’t want to drag a second set of tires around, and
may in fact also use the same tires on this daily driver for occasional non-sanctioned contests of
speed when provoked by Camaro drivers. Good tires to consider are BF Goodrich Drag radials,
Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials, and Nitto Drag radials.
BFGoodrich Drag Radials Mickey Thompson ET Street Radials Nitto Drag Radials
BFGoodrich Drag Radials
Mickey Thompson ET
Street Radials
Nitto Drag Radials
Year
Model
OEM Wheel
Size
OEM
Backspacing
OEM Tire
Size
2003-04
Cobra
17x9
6.12
275/40R17
2000
Cobra R
18x9.5
6.12
265/40R18
1996-01
Cobra
17x8
5.72
245/45R17
1995
Cobra R
17x9
5.98
255/45R17
1994-95
Cobra
17x9
5.98
255/45R17
2003-04
Mach 1
17x8
5.72
245/45R17
2001-04
GT
17x8
5.72
245/45R17
1994-2000
GT Optional
17x8
5.72
245/45R17
1994-2000
GT Standard
16x7.5
4.87
225/55R16
2002-2004
V-6
16x17.5
4.87
225/55R16
2001
V-6 Optional
16x7.5
4.87
225/55R16
2001
V-6 Standard
15x7
5
205/65R15
1994-2000
V-6
15x7
5
205/65R15
Previous |  Next


This has been a sample page from

High Performance Mustang Builders Guide High-Performance Mustang Builder's Guide
1994-2004
by Sean Hyland
High-performance ‘94-‘04 Mustangs represent the high-water
mark for late- model Mustang enthusiasts. From the ’94-’95s with
the 5.0L, through the ‘96-‘04 models with the 2- and 4-valve 4.6
Ls, to the Bullitt, Mach 1, and factory supercharged ’03-‘04
Cobras – never before has such a range of highly modifiable
performance cars been available. These Mustangs were amazing
performers straight from the factory, but they can be even better
with the right combination of performance parts.
Regardless of which ’94-’04 Mustang you start with, the availability
of high- performance parts is unparalleled. You can build your
Mustang for drag racing, road racing, or improved street
performance – and High- Performance Mustang Builder’s Guide
1994-2004 will show you how! Author Sean Hyland uses over 300
photos to explain how to upgrade your Mustang’s engine,
suspension, chassis, transmission, rear end, brakes, and body.
There’s even a special chapter on getting active in various forms
of organized racing.

Sean Hyland is the proprietor of Sean Hyland Motorsport, which
builds and supports internationally competitive Mustangs for road
racing, drag racing, and everything in between. Sean recently did
a complete Mustang build-up for Speed Channel’s Sports Car
Revolution and is also the author of the bestselling title How to
Build Max-Performance 4.6-Liter Ford Engines.
Click below to view sample
pages from each chapter.
Chap. 1 - Chassis
Chap. 2 -
Wheels and Tires
Chap. 3 -
Suspension
Chap. 4 -
Brakes
Chap. 5 -
3.8 Engines
Chap. 6 -
4.6 Modular Engines
Chap. 7 -
Transmissions
Chap. 8 -
Rear Axles
Chap. 9 -
Aerodynamics
Chap. 10 -
Safety Equipment
Chap. 11 -
Get Involved!
Chap. 12 -
Project Cars
8-1/2 x 11"
Sftbd.
144 pgs.
300+ B/W photos
Item: SA106P
Price: $22.95
Click here to buy now!
This is a great book
that any Mustang
enthusiast will enjoy!


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How to Build Performance 4.6 Liter Ford Engines
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recommended power packages and provides you with a
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How to Build Performance 4.6 Liter Ford Engines
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Building 4.6 & 5.4 Ford Horsepower on the Dyno
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the guesswork out of modification and parts selection by
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Building 4.6 & 5.4 Ford Horsepower on the Dyno
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