New tyres for my W111 250SE

I recently drove down to Canberra in my 1965 250SE.   This was the first time I had taken the car on a longish trip in a couple of years.   The main reason for that was the running issue had been experiencing with the car over the last few years.   I finally solved this issue last year by fitting a new electronic distributor.

On the way down I noticed how bad the ride was.   The car was quite bouncy and not very enjoyable to drive.   While the car didn’t do any long trips, I was using it quite a bit on short trips to troubleshoot the running issues, so it seemed strange that the tyres would be flat spotted.     I checked the pressures on the tyres and they were all fine, perhaps even a little higher than they needed to be.

On the way back I had the same issue even after slightly reducing tyre pressure.  I also noticed a crease on the tyre sidewall, it was very slight, but still noticeable.     As the tyres were 8 years old this year, I had planned to change them anyway, so I decided to get a new set right away.  I was worried that the tyres were starting to separate internally.

On the last set of tyres, I made a mistake.   Instead of looking up the original tyre size, I just replaced what was on the car.   This was wrong.   The tyres on the car were 195/70 R14.   This was too low profile.    Depending on the source, the tyres were originally either 185R14 or 195R14.    The technical data book for 1966 says 185R14 and the Mercedes public archive says 195R14. They also have some old bias ply sizes.   This is what it looks like my car was delivered with per the data card:  7.75 14 Continental.

185R14 is now a hard size to find.   195R14 isn’t hard to find in a light truck size, but almost impossible in a car size.   Light truck tyres are not suitable for a classic luxury car, they are going to provide a terrible ride.   However, 195/75 R14 is available in a few decent options.   This is very close to the original size and in my view a pretty good alternative.    I went with the Hankook Kinergy Eco 2 K435.  This is the same tyre I have on my 450SLC, albeit in a different size.   I’ve been quite happy with these tyres on my 107.

tyres for my W111

I went with five tyres in the end.   The spare tyre pre-dated my ownership of the car.   I couldn’t see a date code on it, and by the tread the tyre reckoned that from the tread it was from the late 70s or early 80s.   It looked quite good, but I wouldn’t have wanted to drive very far on it.   The tyre fitter also mentioned to me that one of the tyres had started to separate internally, so I’m glad I changed them.   Tyres shouldn’t be used if older than about 8 years old and mine were getting up to that age later this year.

As well as the tyres, I had the car aligned.   I’ve have a few issues with the car feeling like its wandering at speed.   I’ve had a few issues with older cars not being aligned against the right specs, so I photographed the relevant pages of the technical data book.    since fitting, I’ve only driven the car a short distance, but the steering feels better.

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