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Summer 2009
Restomod Magazine

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Cindy and I have owned our 1965 Black Restomod Coupe for 24 years. It has been a test bed for many of the Grab-A-Trak® suspension products that Mustangs Plus sells today. It has had many different tire and wheel combinations tried on it with these suspension products. As it sets today, it has been lowered 2" all the way around from the stock height. It is equipped with American Racing 17" x 8" Torque II wheels with a 4-3/4" back space. The tires are 235/45-17" BF Goodrich g-force T/A's. This is the best fitting wheel and tire combination I've been able to find for my 1965 Restomod Mustang. The 235 size fits the 8" rim very nicely and the tire doesn't get lost in the wheel well. Because we put so many miles on our Restomod Mustang, I prefer to have the same size tires on all four corners. This way I can rotate the tires and wheels for better tire wear. Going to a 245/45-17" tire makes it necessary to roll the fender lips, something that I find most Restomod builders prefer not to do.

These pictures show the distance between the ball joint and the wheel on a 1966 Mustang. The wheel on the left is a 16" x 8" with a 4 1/2" back space. As you can see, it just barely misses hitting the ball joint. If it had any more back space, it would run straight into the ball joint. The wheel on the right is a 17" x 8" with a 4 3/4" back space. As you can see, the wheel sits over the ball joint without hitting it. The extra 1/4" of tire clearance to the fender well and when it comes to tire clearance, that's a bunch!

I know this will sound strange, coming from someone who is so closely associated with Restomods, but as I stated above, I didn't want to roll the fender lips when I put the first set of 17" x 8" wheels on my 1965 several years ago. So I started looking at how to get a larger wheel under the car that would extend in towards the frame, not out towards the fender. I found that the biggest problem that all the 1965 to 1973 Mustangs have with the front end is upper ball joint clearance. Did you know that a 17" x 8" wheel will fit these cars much better than a 16" x 8" wheel? The reason is that the upper ball joint is almost right in line with the edge of the rim on a 16" wheel which limits the amount of back space that the wheel can have. And that means that on an 8" wheel with less back spacing, the front of the rim is moved closer to the fender and can create tire to fender rub, especially on 1965 and 1966 Mustangs. But the extra 1/2" of height that a 17" wheel has on the top and bottom allows the rim to just slightly pass over the top of the upper control arm. So 17" wheels can set further into the wheel well allowing more clearance to the tire and fender. Of course 18" and larger diameter wheels are even better, if you can find them with the correct back space.

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