Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Wheels & Tires -> Three-Ribbon
In 1966 the 3-ring whitewalls first appeared, so the look of ultra- thin white stripes (albeit a lot of them) totaling less than two inches in total whitewall width was truly the late-60s look! The only 3-ring tires available now (from Coker Tire, etc.) in the correct original 9.15x15 size are Firestones and occasionally US Royals. They use the Lincoln stripe scheme: narrow-wide-narrow, but they're as close to the wide-narrow-wide stripes of the Imperial's original (but still extra-cost, about $55 in 1966-67) Goodyear Power Cushion tires.
The correct original tires are 9.15x15 US Royals with the three-ring whitewall which are wide-narrow-wide, unlike Lincoln and Cadillac. A friend runs the Lincoln-style bias-ply tires with the narrow-wide-narrow whitewall in the stock size (9.15x15) and loves them, but I'm sold on radials.
The Coker "Lincoln Sidewall", developed for the Mark III, look simply gorgeous on these car that originally came with the Three Ribbon design (my dad put them on our '65 Crown and are the absolute closest to original we have found). Remember, that the evolution went from wider to narrower (the first 1'' whitewall was the Eldorado Brougham) until the specialty whitewalls began to hit the market in 1965....
The "Imperial 1964-1968 Photo Archive" has a great close shot of the three ring whitewall tire on p. 74 for the '66 Imperial. It was a $54.05 option that year.
Question from Greg (1965):
Does anyone have a source for radials with the correct triple stripe tires for our Imperials. I am looking for them for my '65 Crown convertible.
Use these tires with a caveat emptor approach. I put a set on my '66 and they were miserable. I think all 4 of the tires were defective - none of them could be balanced. And those that appeared balanced on the machine were nonetheless visibly out of round, both laterally and longitudinally. You can just imagine the kind of ride that gave!
Some IML'ers have also installed these tires on their Imperials and apparently have not had the problems I had, so maybe I just got tires from a bad batch. I am not one of those people who have no use for bias tires. I have them on my '60 New Yorker and wouldn't have anything else - they perform beautifully on that car. But my experience with these triple stripe tires was not a good one. I am vastly more happy with the 235/75 x 15 radials on my Imperials. If you buy the triple stripes, immediately install them and run them up to 80 on the interstate. If they do not give a
glass smooth ride, send them back at once. I didn't and spent nearly $200 in having my set "trued" for roundness and getting high-speed balancing. After all that they were still awful.
Like I said, "caveat emptor".
Firestone has discontinued our beloved FR721, which came in a 235-75R15 XL (Extra Load) with the 1-5/8" whitewall. I spoke to friends at Bridgestone-Firestone corporate and they said as much as the field reps protested (because of the numerous vintage-car-owning loyalists), the bean counters decided the low volume was not worth it. The reality is, thanks to the Ford Explorer debacle, these are not good times for Bridgestone-Firestone.
If your local dealer has any (not terribly likely... they were backordered when they went out of production), you might want to snap them up, since I do not know of a similar tire on the market with this nice-size whtewall. There are other choices in this size, but none with this appearance, and the 721 with this "wider whitewall" was actually the OEM tire on mid-70s NYBs (I still have one or two of the originals from my '78 Salon... not mounted, of course).
I can imagine Coker Tire might start reproducing these (perhaps we all need to e-mail Corky Coker and request it), but I can also guess that they'd cost more that way than they did from Firestone.
Another era comes to an end, along with true premium gasoline and single-stage paint... wah...
Question from Mark:
Has anyone found a source for the triple stripe tires???
Reply from Greg:
Although I have not spoken with anyone about them, I did check Hemmings and in the back Lucas Automotive carries a triple stripe tire in the correct size (9.15x15) for my Imperial. They are made by General Tire. Coker offers a B.F. Goodrich triple stripe bias ply but the largest it comes in (that I can see from their ad) is 9.00x15. I haven't checked with them either. As I said, I've been toying with the idea of eventually replacing the Broadway Classics on the Imperial with the tires that it came with when new. I don't know if either of the above mentioned tires are the actual triple stripe design that Imperial used back in the '60's. Cadillac also used a triple stripe tire on their '66 cars. The stripe pattern is a little different from the stripes on the Imperial's tires.
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