So I did something ridiculous. I found these wheels on Craigslist and they were inexpensive enough that it was worth a try. The back tires are 185/65/R15 and are wider than the originals but the front tires are 175/55R15 and are cartoonishly small. It looks pretty ridiculous in person but I'm so torn between loving and hating the rims in general that I can't bring myself to buy 185/65's to match the back. I think that it might be alright if they were 17" with a lower profile tire. I just put them on and pulled it back in the garage so I'll drive it around tomorrow and form a real opinion in the light of day but so far I believe that these are coming back off and going to be in the classified section by tomorrow night. 

What do you guys think? 

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I don't think it was so ridiculous. At just over 22 1/2" tall, 175/55-15's are way short for our purposes (slamming the front end several inches by adjusting the beam, using lowering spindles and shorter tires are a trick of the Cal Look bug crowd) but I agree with Ray and Bob (that's 100% of the Canadian vote so far!)- those Rader (Empi version) wheels do look good! That is one of the nice things about the 5x205 mm bolt pattern- as well as looking correct, there are a few different wheel choices.

If you're in the market for new wheels maybe a pair of 185's are what's needed? Maybe do 185/60's for better front end bite?   Al

I'm working from home today so I drove to a coffee shop and can see it out the window. I'm liking them more and more as I look at them. It's amazing how much of an affect the tire size has on the ride and responsiveness. Driving it with the 185/65 vs the 165/80's that were on it, It feels like a completely different car. It feels like it has 10 more horsepower and the grip on the road feels like it doubled. The tiny front tires have also taken away anything resembling a suspension on the front. Every bump rattles through the whole car. Lifting it to change the tires out you see that the suspension naturally has so little travel that once the tires are a low profile there's really nothing left to damper any bumps in the road. Here in potholes-ville Pennsylvania that means a lot of swerving.

All those complaints about the suspension and I have to admit that I was smiling the entire drive here. I really love driving it like this. I'm going to change the front tires out to the 185/65 to match the back but I think that will have limited affect on the suspension but still give it a little more grip with the wider profile and make it look more even. 

Thanks for the positive comments.

The 185/65's are 1" shorter than your 165/80's;  you've shortened the final drive ratio slightly so the car will feel like it has more power or 'zip' around town. That's good that you noticed the difference. And yeah, with the (somewhat) crude suspensions these things have, really short tires do ride like rocks! 

And what @IaM-Ray said- lower the tire pressure a little and see if it helps. A wider tire will support the car with less air.

Stan Galat posted:

You got me on that, Robert. I would counter that an Isettta barely qualifies as a motor vehicle.

Also, the friction shocks on MGs were pretty rude. But seriously-- a 1976 Chevrolet Chevette Scooter had a better front suspension than a 356 Speedster.

Initially I was going to say a Yugo but, not surprisingly, I couldn't find a schematic for the front end of a Yugo.

The Isetta is way more cool than a Yugo though.

Thanks for all the information guys. I can't believe that I didn't check the tire pressure before putting the wheels on the car. When I did the fronts were at almost 40 psi. I lowered it but they're such a low profile that it had no real effect on the bumps. I'm traveling with the family and then work for the next couple weeks but when I get back I'll be putting 185/65's on the front to match the rear. 

I've now spent so much time staring at the wheels that I'm starting to really be bothered by how much the front tires sit under the car. There's over a 2" overhang of the fender from where the tire ends. I know that the new tires will be slightly wider but not enough to fill in the fender well. I searched through the forum and found a bunch of information on finding spacers, specifically a thread from 2014 but very little definitive yes or no on whether they're good long term. Also has anyone experimented with running a wider front wheel track with spacers while keeping the back at the stock width? (Wasn't that a Pontiac thing in the 2000s? Widetrack?) The spacers all seem inexpensive enough that I might experiment with it and see if I like it and if it causes rubbing on turns. I was even thinking I could go up to an inch although I'm probably only comfortable trying it at 1/2" for now. I converted it to Wheel studs so I can get the studs long enough to get bite on the lug nuts but is there anything else that I should worry about with that much more stress on the hubs? 

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