The Science Behind "Big and Little" Tire Combinations
Okay, so it's not really science. Big and little tires are your preference and it's a method of customization that hot rodders have been using for decades. It originated from racing, as most forms of racers (dirt track, Indy and drag racing) would fit racecars with smaller front tires and wheels and larger rear tires and wheels. The smaller fronts reduced rolling resistance and weight, while the larger rear tires provided more traction and a modification to the final drive ratio. The look translated well to street-driven hot rods, and it is a timeless design that is still be utilized to this day. Hot rodders have experimented with various combinations, and continue to do so, while holding a measuring tape and their trusty Coker Tire catalog for reference. Whether you choose the traditional look of bias ply tires, or the upgraded handling of a radial tire, there are dozens of combinations that give you the timeless big and little look. It's also important to look at wheel sizing, as staggering the diameter and width can provide a more aggressive stance with the right tire selection. We're proud of our extensive tire and wheel size selection, and we're sure that we can accommodate even the wildest big and little tire combination, so if you're setting up the stance on your hot rod, call us and we can help you dial it in with the right tires and wheels. You can also call up on the help of our neighbors at Honest Charley Speed Shop if you're working on the chassis and suspension for your hot rod. For now, let's take a look at some awesome examples of hot rods that perfectly embody the big and little look. We made an effort to keep it consistent with the chassis style (1932 Ford), so that you see the dramatic changes by simply swapping tires and wheels. You can use these hot rods to draw some inspiration for your build and see how you can match up a set of big and little tires and wheels! [caption id="attachment_8743" align="alignleft" width="780"]big and little tires This 1932 Ford Vicky has a distinct tire and wheel combination that really enhances the stance. It's rolling on a set of our Firestone Dirt Track tires, sized at 500-17 and 820-19, mounted to custom Hot Rod Steel wheels that are powder coated black for a sinister appearance. This combination is not only "big and little" but also "tall and skinny" with a difference of 6 inches in overall diameter. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_8742" align="alignleft" width="780"]big and little tires This is a more common approach to big and little tires and wheels. This 1932 Ford roadster has similar chassis and suspension modifications as the rest of the cars featured, but uses a set of our BF Goodrich Silvertown Radial whitewall tires for the perfect amount of rubber rake. The car features a 165R15 front tires and a 285/70R15 rear tire, giving it 5-1/2 inches of difference between the front and rear tire diameters. The wheels are Hot Rod Steel, powder coated red and sized at 15x5 and 15x8. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_8750" align="alignleft" width="780"]big and little tires The most exaggerated combination in our featured group of big and little tires is this full fendered 1932 Ford roadster, built by Adams Hot Rod Shop. It features Firestone Dirt Track tires, sized at 500-15 and 820-17, wrapped around a set of stock style wire wheels. The diameter difference on this combination is a touch over 8 inches and it really gives this car a wicked look. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_8745" align="alignleft" width="780"]Big and little tires While this 1932 Ford Tudor sedan looks subdued in comparison to some the wild combinations of big and little tires, it still has an aggressive look. It features a set of Firestone Deluxe Champion bias ply tires, sized at 500/525-16 and 750-16. This combination provides a diameter difference of 5 inches.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8749" align="alignleft" width="780"]big and little tires A popular design for big and little tire combinations is our Excelsior Stahl Sport Radial. We offer these tires in a variety of sizes, and they have the narrow tread profile of a bias ply tire with the construction of a modern radial. This 1932 Ford roadster features a combination of 500R16 front tires and 750R16 rear tires, wrapped around our Hot Rod Steel wheels. Diameter difference on this combination is 6-1/2 inches. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_8748" align="alignleft" width="780"]big and little tires We love the traditional look of this light green roadster, and it has a slightly staggered wheel size to complement the tire differences. The combination starts with a set of chrome Hot Rod Steel wheels, sized at 15x5 and 16x6, and uses a set of Firestone wide whitewall tires, sized at 560-15 and 760-16. The tires have a diameter difference of 5-3/4 inches, but the one-inch difference in wheel diameter offers a subtle enhancement of the big and little look.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_8746" align="alignleft" width="780"]big and little tires Last but not least, we have a vibrant Deuce roadster, rolling on an aggressive size combination. We normally do not suggest mixing bias ply and radial tires on the same vehicle, but this one looks too cool not to showcase it in our big and little tires article. This one rolls on Firestone 145R15 radial tires, and Firestone 1100-16 Dirt Track tires. This combination provides a diameter difference of 6-1/4 inches, but the huge difference in width adds to the timeless race-inspired hot rod look. Overall width on the front tires is 5.60 inches, while the big Dirt Track rears feature a whopping 15 inches of section width (depending on the rim width). This example of big and little tires shows the effect of tire diameter, tire width, wheel diameter and wheel width in the the most dramatic way possible. [/caption] [products]