Steel Wheel Interchange

March 23, 2009

in Alpines, Parts Interchange, Tech Tips, Tigers, Wheels

First printed 7/87

Question: What other car wheels fit a Tiger or Alpine?

Answer: The stock Tiger came with 13″ rims that were 4.5″ wide with a 4×4.25″ bolt circle. A number of cars have wheels with this same bolt circle:

Ford Fairmont 78-86 Mustang (exc. SVO) 74-86
Thunderbird 80-86 Pinto 71-80
Fiesta 78-85 Escort 80-86
Mercury Mercur 85-86 Zepher, Z-7 78-86
Cougar, XR7 80-86 Mercur XR4TI 82-86
Lynx, LN7 82-86 Topaz 82-86
Capri, Capri H 71-86

Of course, bolt circle is not the only criterion. Some of these are not 13″ wheels (although some 14″ and the Mustang TRX wheels have been used on some Sunbeams). A major consideration is the wheel’s offset. The Tiger requires a relative large (negative) offset. This means that the centerline of the rim (bead-to-bead center) is inboard of the mounting plane of the wheel. Too much (negative) offset (as in wheels designed for front wheel drive cars) will cause rubbing of the tire on suspension components. Too little (negative) or, even worse, (positive) offset, will move the wheel too far outboard causing the tire to rub on the fender.

A lot of the wheels that are on Tigers today are no longer made (eg. LAT-9, LAT-70 and American Racing Libre). Panasport wheels make six inch wide wheels for the front and seven inch wide for the rear with the correct offsets to help even out the front and rear tracks. The most common inexpensive solution is a set of Capri or Pinto wheels. They are 0.5″ wider than stock with appropriate offsets. You may need a spacer on the rear for the wheels to clear the brake drums. One caution, stamped steel wheels designed for compact cars have been known to fail under hard use and we don’t recommend these be used for hard driving conditions. Also, some wheels were designed for stud sizes larger than the (7/16-20) used on the Alpine and Tiger. When using these wheels you must be sure to use a lug nut that properly contacts its tapered seat. If a lug nut is too small there is a high risk that the wheel will be dislodged.

Editors note: The words and dimensions in italics were changed from the original because of errors.