Tyres for Jaguar E-types

Letitia Mace and E-type Series 1 50EE Tyres for E-types


Jaguar, along with Dunlop were major innovators; making the XJ6 the first production saloon to be fitted with low profile tyres.  In 1968 the XJ6 was available with the ground breaking new 70% profile tyre, the ER/70VR15 (205/70 VR15) Dunlop SP Sport, also known as the Aquajet.  When Jaguar released their series 3 E-types they fitted the new technology 70% profile tyres, but to counteract  regressive effect the new bigger foot print had on the handling, Jaguar also fitted power steering. These bigger tyres did give greater road holding; but the handling was heavier, less progressive and felt less sporty.

It is a common mistake that fitting the fatter Series 3 wheels and tyres to the earlier Series one 1 and 2 E-types will improve the driving experience. Of course, back in the day, Jaguar tested these tyres with the E-type and if it would have improved the handling they would have fitted them in 1969 as they did with the XJ6. But the handling was badly affected so they waited until power steering was fitted with the Series 3.

It is fair to say there are companies such as Lynx and Eagle that do some amazing upgrades to E-types;  particularly to the steering, that can counteract the derogatory effects that 205/70 R15 or ER/70VR15 tyres have on the handling of the earlier non power steering cars. They are extremely clever and well put together upgrades. This does raise the question of how do you want your car, do you want it the way it was, or do you want a more modern piece of machinery in an old shaped body, which is of course personal taste. However if you want your Series 1 or 2 E-type without steering modifications then it will handle better on a 185VR15. A car will be more progressive on a thinner tyre than on a fatter tyre. A car can be under tyred or over tyred. Jaguar testing proved that 185R15 was best for those cars, so they didn’t fit anything bigger.

Another element is personal taste. Some people feel that the car on standard tyres  looks too skinny and fatter tyres give it a more muscular look. If this is the look you want then a Period tyre like the Michelin XWX or the Dunlop SP Sport or Aquajet will help keep it progressive and minimise the effects of the inevitable heavier steering of a wider tyre.


Original E-type Radial Tyres

Over the years the knowledge about which tyres these cars were fitted with at the factory gate gets lost in the mists of time, and because some tyres that were fitted in the day become obsolete, and other tyres remain current,  the knowledge gets fudged.

Series 1
The first E-types were fitted with Dunlop 6.40H15 RS5 crossply tyres. Radial tyres had been around for some time since the Michelin X in the 40’s, but the Sports car tyre of choice since 1952 was the Pirelli Cinturato.

Dunlop developed their SP41 radial; which was offered with the Series 1 E-type. Due to the SP41’s limited speed capabilities Jaguar recommended restricting the speed of the cars to 125mph when fitting the Dunlop radial. The 185-15 Dunlop SP41 is no longer manufactured today.

The only truly suitable radial option that Jaguar offered with the E-type was the Pirelli 185VR15 CA67 Cinturato HS (high speed). The Cinturato was the top sports car radial of the 50’s and 60’s and fortunately is still made by Pirelli today, as arguably the best tyre for a non power steering E-type.

The Jaguar Service Bulletin and Pirelli advertisement below, refer to this.



Series 2
By now Radial tyre technology was common place and Jaguar fitted radial tyres as standard equipment. In 1968 Dunlop had their new SP Sport tyre available with a suitable speed rating for the flamboyant E-type sports car. The SP Sport Aquajet tyres were made with a V speed rating and fitted at the factory gate as standard equipment on the Series 2 E-type.

The Dunlop Car Tyre Guide of 1967/8, below, refers to this.



Series 3
The Series 3 saw some major changes to the specification of the E-type Jaguar. Many of the other major sportscar manufacturers were starting to change their cars to suit the modern low profile tyre technology. As the XJ6 had pioneered the low profile tyre on a production saloon,  Jaguar were now very keen to make the E-type suited to these new low profile tyres so they added power steering to the Series 3, and fitted the ER/70VR15 Dunlop SP Sport (Aquajet).


Suitable Tyres for an E-type


From the left:

185HR15 Michelin XVS  The XAS tyre were developed by Michelin in 1965 in conjunction with Citroen to improve the directional stability of the Citroen DS. This is a remarkable tyre that dramatically improves the directional stability of classic cars and diminishes the wandering at cruising speed. XAS tyres were used by all sorts of manufacturers such as Triumph and Austin Healey.  The XAS and XVS range of tyres made by Michelin are some of the best tyres you can fit to classics of the 60’s & 70’s.

185HR15 Dunlop SP Sport  A very evocative tyre for 70’s British car fans. The 185VR15 SP Sport was original equipment on the Series 3 E-type and the same tread pattern was used on the ER/70VR15 tyres of the Series 3.

185HR15 Vredestein Sprint Classic  If price is the main determining factor when buying tyres for your Series 1 or 2 E-type then the Vredestein price is usually the lowest.

185VR15 Pirelli Cinturato  Along with the XVS the best tyre available in a full profile. From the mid 50’s and throughout the 60’s this was known as the tyre of choice for sports cars, because they took the modern radial tyre technology designed for longevity; improved the grip and made a progressive sports car tyre. All the top Italian marques fitted Cinturato’s but even in the UK it was original equipment for the likes of Rover, MG and Morgan, and the Cinturato was the tyre offered by Aston Martin if you wanted a radial tyre on your DB. The 185VR15 Pirelli Cinturato HS CA67 is the tyre that Jaguar offered as a radial option on the Series 1 E-type.

640H15 Dunlop RS5 Crossply  Original equipment on Jaguars throughout the late 50’s and 60’s. The RS 5 was also fitted to cars like the R-type Bentley. If you are going to fit a cross ply, why not stick with original equipment? Also, there isn’t a better cross ply in that size!

670H15 Avon TurboSpeed  This Crossply tyre was competition for the Dunlop RS5. This particular tyre is a bit larger and was fitted to late Aston Martin DB4’s through to DB6’s.

180HR15 Michelin XAS  1965 Citroen DS tyre. This is an odd size tyre, which is tall and thin and is the best tyre you can fit to a MK1 or MK2 Jaguar, because they make the steering a little lighter.


Words and pictures courtesy of Dougal Cawley, Longstone Classic Tyres.


For more information on fitting the correct tyres to your Classic Jaguar, please contact Longstone Classic Tyres.

Phone: (+44) 01302 714072

Email: info@longstonetyres.co.uk

Website: Longstone Classic Tyres


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All information correct at time of publishing.