Tires Sizes & 5.5 Rims on a Ghia

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Tires Sizes & 5.5 Rims on a Ghia

Post by mb848 » Sat May 14, 2005 2:02 pm

Need some help....I know this is probably repetitive for alot of you, but I need a straight answer. Can 5.5 wheels fit on a '70 Ghia correctly, and if so, what tires are recommended? I have 165 15 86T all around and there are problems with the back tires banging up into the wheelwells whenever I go over a bump. Not good. They barely fit inside the back fenders, though, so I don't have a rubbing problem. Is there a lower profile 165 that is not so much a "tall" tire? Also, the tires make the front end look a little higher than the back. Would a 145 15 tire be a better fit there? Would this fit on a 5.5 rim? Forgive my ignorance, I'm still learning and need help. Thanks.

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Tires w/15x 5.5 Rims on a Ghia

Post by mb848 » Sun May 15, 2005 10:18 am

I guess a better question would be, those who own a Ghia and have 15x 5.5 rims, what size tires do you run? Ghia is stock. Thanks.

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Post by wrench_monkey » Tue May 17, 2005 12:58 am

As you've figured out, the so-called "stock" size tire is 165r15 but this tire has an aspect ratio of usually 80% which works out to be too tall for most after-market wheels that are wider (5.5").

The only tire that I found acceptable was the 185x65r15. This has a slightly lower profile and helps a bit.

The biggest problem is not actually the wheel width but the wheel off-set. The Ghia has very unforgiving fender clearance tolerances. There's really nothing easy about them especially if you want to run them lowered as well.
You can use a narrowed beam and that would help. You can use those 185x65's in rear and that will help.
The ultimate thing is to use wheels with as much positive offset as you can find (something along the lines of the so called "2 liter" wheels) which place the mounting surface of the wheel at almost the outer wheel lip. This causes the tire to be pushed back inside the fender well and with the lower profile tire you'll get your wishes.
An alternative to newer after-market wheels with positive offset is to try the "marathon" or sometimes called "baja" wheels VW put on the Beetle around 1971. These are 10-spoke, steel wheels which can be color-match painted and with some chrome center caps and lugs they look pretty good and help with the dreaded fender lip clearance issues.
Here's a pic of a Ghia with them and 185x65r15 in rear and weeenie 135's up front:

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Post by OrangeBug » Tue May 17, 2005 4:08 pm

Hi - i'm using 185/65-15 on 5,5 Porsche 356 wheels both front and rear. It's working fine, even there is not much room between the wheel and the side of the body.

In front I plan to lower the car a bit or perhaps mount 185/55-15 tires to get the front down a bit. 8)


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Post by RoWaMe » Wed May 18, 2005 3:08 pm

mb848, yes. I have a set of 5.5 steel rims from a Porsche 914 on my Ghia ('64 body on '70 chassis) with 185/65 all around. No clearance issues at all. The 914 wheels have a bit more offset to the inside so that they bring the tire inwards away from the fender edge. OEM 914 5.5" alloy wheels have the same offset and look great, IMO. repros of these wheels have slightly more offset to the outside so that you may very well encounter clearance issues.

Here's a shot of my car with the steel wheels and 185's: ... _id=106855

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Post by Ephry73 » Wed May 18, 2005 3:19 pm

You may want to check the offset of the wheels, and your aligment settings. Ghias tend to have plenty of room in the front, but almost no room in back. I have the stock rims/tires in the back, and have about 4 inches to play with(2 out and 2 in), if I so want to.


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Post by Karmann72 » Fri May 20, 2005 9:35 am

I have empi 8 spokes that are 5.5 inches wide with kumho 195 50 15s on my 72 ghia. There is not much clearance in the back, but they don't rub.


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Post by mb848 » Sat May 21, 2005 11:41 am

Thanks everybody for your input. I am going to give the 185/65/15 tires a shot and see how it goes.....I'll keep the forum updated. Thanks again!

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Post by Cohibra45 » Sat May 21, 2005 12:08 pm


Can't stress offset is very important when choosing wheel/tire combo. Most folks running original 2.0 Porsche Fuchs can put 185's-205s on the rear with not much trouble. They have an offset of 40mm I believe.

Try to go to your local tire shop and tell them what you want to do and ask them to try one wheel/tire on all four corners to check rub. That way you will know for sure. Probably have to purchase all four tires there, but you will have confidence that they will work with your car.

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Post by olsonbr2 » Tue May 31, 2005 7:44 pm

I'm running on the front 4.5" rims with 145's and on the rear 5.5" rims with Continental Touring contact 175/65/15. These are the tires on the Mini Coopers. On the rear I have brand new chrome shocks from CB performance and have plenty of room with no rubbing as of yet. I've had 3 people push down on the rear of the car and I have yet to get it to bottom out and hit the fender. I hope this helps

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Post by dr. no » Wed Jun 01, 2005 9:59 pm

Those Contis are what I put on mine, with 5.5 old style Rivieras all around. I haven't been out of the driveway yet, but they don't rub with anything I have done to them yet.

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Post by RoWaMe » Thu Jun 02, 2005 10:26 am

A few clarifications needed based on some above responses.

First, those "Baja Champion" wheels are only 4.5" wide.

Next, if you use the factory numbers for offset which are stamped into the steel wheels, the HIGHER the number is for more positive offset, meaning to me that the tire mounting surface is more INWARD. Kinda goes against logic but this is how the factory interprets it. Be careful how your tire and wheel source interprets those words.

And yes, Porsche 914 5.5" wheels (4-bolt) had 40mm offset and fit great on a Ghia with plenty of clearance to the body/fenderline (except maybe even the long-swingaxle '68's with standard tranny).

On my '64 Ghia that sits on a '70 IRS pan, the 5.5" wide 914 steel wheels I am running front and rear are mounted with 185/65's. See my photo link in my previous comment above if you like that look.

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Post by BOOSTED70KG » Fri Jun 03, 2005 9:09 am

I also am using 165/15's on my 70 ghia on "Riviera" style wheels and even with the heavier type 4 conversion which tends to make my stock suspension sag a bit, I don't have any fender clearance's close, but the wheels don't rub.

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Post by Goodwrench » Fri Jun 03, 2005 10:49 am

I'm running 8 spoke EPMIs that are 5.5 inches wide with Nanking 165R15s all aroung on my 74. No problems.
Allen Caron
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74 Karmann Ghia
53 MGTD VW Replica Kit Car

"VWs...They turn an ordinary man into a mechanic"

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Post by vwfreak » Mon Jun 06, 2005 6:43 pm

I'm running empi 8 spokes that are 5.5 inches wide with 195 50 15s on my 70 ghia front and back. I had 195 55 15 on the back but they rubbed so I had to go smaller. Not much room in the back but tons up front.

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