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Wheels for Older Volvos
Phil Singher

Tired of those skinny tires on your 1800S, Amazon or PV? You will need new wheels -- putting wider tires on the stock wheels is neither safe nor effective. There are several good answers to the problem.

If you want to stick close to the stock look, you should be able to find a wheel shop that can weld wider rims onto your stock centers. The difference in appearence will not be striking, and you can use the original hubcaps or wheel covers.

Ford Wheel You may have heard that Ford or Chrysler wheels will fit a Volvo. This is true for the older cars -- the 1800E, 140 and newer cars use a bolt pattern unique to Volvo. Most 5-bolt Ford wheels that you'll find in salvage yards are 14" wheels, and you'll probably want 15", so be prepared to search a bit. Wheels from 1970's full-size Fords and Mercuries will most likely be what you'll find. They can look good with a little cleaning and paint, but are quite heavy.

Of course, there are a number of alloy wheels available on the market (if they don't list wheels for Volvo, tell them you need them for a '70s full-size Ford!) Whatever wheels you decide to use, try to stick with the stock rearset: the inboard edge of the rim should extend 3-1/2" from the mounting surface of the wheel (in other terminology, a 6"-wide wheel should protrude 3-1/2" inboard and 2-1/2" outboard, which is a positive offset of 1"). The idea is not to widen the track of the car by much -- it will hurt the handling, wear components faster and wreak havoc with the alignment settings. Wider is not better, unless it was originally designed into the car.

If you want to maintain the stock ride height and speedometer readings, your tire dealer can match the diameter of the original tires with wider, lower-profile ones. This will affect your selection of rims: a 185mm tire fits happily on a 6" rim, a 195mm on a 6-1/2" and a 205mm on a 7". I much prefer having a moderate tire on a wide rim than the other way around. Consider also that the more rubber you have on the ground, the lower your optimum tire pressures will be and the heavier the steering will become.

Happy rolling!

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