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And I’m not talking from a technical aspect here, but from a moral one: Which makes it a much more difficult question to answer.

The thing is, I am furious. Or at least annoyed. Some readers may recall that a first-generation Mazda RX-7 joined the ViaRETRO fleet this spring, and what a lovely car it is – for details see the full story here: My First Wankel: Mazda RX-7 Elford Turbo. Truly a great car and famed of course mostly for the engine, but probably secondly for its balanced handling. I’d like to add the design as well. And there you have it: As a package, a thoroughly lovely car. Also a car which a whole generation remembers for its brilliance as an accomplished (and affordable) sports car.

Now that the RX-7 has been in my garage for a month, I know what Mazda meant with “The more you look, the more you like”.

Only this one was fitted with tyres of a brand called Ambassador. If you can actually call that a brand at all? I have never heard of them before and hope I will never hear of them again. Equally, I haven’t bothered researching their history – if there is such a thing – but have a feeling they might be from India. For obvious reasons. I might be wrong of course. However, I am perfectly right in judging them as truly crappy tyres: On my return trip from Sweden they felt sloppy, noisy and just plain terrible. They weren’t confidence inspiring and I definitely felt no need to exploit the handling of the RX-7. Instead, I felt lucky that it was both warm and dry. Once back home, one also turned out to not hold air.

One Ambassador does not hold air for long as can be seen – but help is on its way.

Yes, I am annoyed! The only positive thing I can think of, is that all four tyres were actually of the same brand, at least resulting in perfectly balanced crappy handling. But honestly: Who on Earth chooses to put tyres like that on a sports car renown for its great handling? There should be a law against it. But as there isn’t (here I am assuming the Ambassadors would satisfy the low performance limits set by legal requirements, although I might be wrong on that) we’re left relying on classic car owner’s moral obligations. And it is rather simple: You just don’t fit crappy tyres to a sports car! Please… Or else!

The Ambassor does not deserve a full photo. Instead you may enjoy the pattern of the Dunlop Sport Classic.

Or else? Well, I feel a suitable punishment should be to revoke the owner of the privilege to control a sports car. Or rather any car with reputable handling characteristics. Put them in a – say, Morris Marina. Until they have recognized their guilt and requited themselves in some way. Furthermore, the Marina should be fitted with the Ambassadors taken from the offended vehicle – and if their size is incorrect for the Marina? Well, all the better. That’ll teach them.

End of rant.

I immediately put two tyres in the car. Old trick: It helps rectify that new car smell again.

For today my new Dunlop Sport Classics arrived, and the RX-7 and I are on our way to bliss and happiness again: They are the correct 205/60-13 size for the Elford Turbo alloys, they feel deliciously soft in the compound, and they even look right too – from the traditional pattern to the rounded shoulders. They’re great.

To be honest I would have preferred the recently reintroduced Yokohama Advan HF Type D – the Japanese retro-tyre for many Eighties performance cars. But they are currently still only available in Japan and not yet in the correct size for the Elford Turbo either. Likewise, no modern tyres were available in that size. Which seems very strange to me, as when I was a boy the 205/60-13 was just about the hottest size to be seen on. I wonder what happened, as it appears the size is not that popular anymore and especially not with the speed rating an Elford Turbo requires.

Let the Boost come with confidence.

So I chose the Dunlops – the Elford was a British effort after all. They were 4,400 Danish Kroner (520 Pound Sterling / 599 Euro) for a set and not yet fitted. And yes, that’s probably several times the cost of Ambassadors. But I will assert they are also several times better and will contribute to make the RX-7 several times more enjoyable. More on that later, of course. I’ll see to getting them fitted next week and can’t wait to drive the RX-7 with new rubber.

There’ll be a cheap set of used Ambassadors coming up for sale soon, as I guess there’a a market for that as well. Anyone?

6 Responses

  1. YrHmblHst

    ‘ambassadors’ and the like should not be allowed in the country to begin with. problem solved.

  2. kim

    Your Dunlops aren’t that costly, thats what some people pay for a set of Michelins for a 2cv…But yes, choose the best tyres for your car, and your use..

  3. Anders Bilidt

    It’s not that you absolutely must buy the very most expensive tyres in your size. But I just can’t fathom why some enthusiasts clearly spend huge amounts of time, effort and money on bodywork, paint, brightwork, interior etc etc. only to then buy the cheapest no-name tyres you can possibly find. The mind boggles…
    The poor car is inevitably going to handle like a bag of nuts!

    Luckily there seems to be more and more retro tyres being re-introduced. Pirelli getting back into the game with their old Cinturato’s is very welcome as well – and thankfully, they’re not quite as costly as the Michelin alternatives either. I’ll be swapping to a set of CN36’s when the current tyres on my NullZwei need replacing.

    Claus, the Dunlop’s will be awesome on the Elford RX-7! Both in terms of looks and handling. Really looking forward to seeing the cool little Jap sportscar in the UK some time soon… :-)

  4. Claus Ebberfeld

    @yrhmblhst , that seems simple, but I guess they would be perfectly OK for your garden trailer and that might even be exactly what they were designed for in the first place. And the garden trailers need tyres too.

    I think it’s more like @anders-bilidt questions – and what I asked in the headline: You shouldn’t fit crappy tyres to a fine car. If the car itself is decidedly crappy also then it doesn’t matter that much, does it? But how anyone could think of THESE tyres on THIS car is beyond me.

    The tendency with more reintroduced classic tyres is very uplifting, though. I guess that means that they will also become better and better. A recent German test concluded that even the best classic tyres were not on par with a modern tyre. In fact I briefly considered a Yokohama (I think it was?), but could not live with the look of a totally modern thread pattern.

  5. Dave Leadbetter

    Rule One – always remember that tyres are cheaper than bodywork.

  6. Keith Bennett

    I own a very early 1958 Mk1 Austin A40 Farina which I bought secondhand in 1966. It had crossplies fitted but, when the time came to replace them a few years later, I opted for the (relatively) new radials.
    Sadly within a few months it was found that, especially at low speeds, their grip was too much for the weak “worm and peg” steering box which was becoming excessively worn, so I reverted to crossplies once again.
    The car continues to be my daily driver (I have no modern vehicle) and she still wears crossplies. Sourcing them has become more difficult as time passes; Vintage Tyres in Beaulieu, are a well-respected company who have purchased the patterns for scores of out-of-production tyres and they have them manufactured to original spec. in India where labour is cheaper.
    However, their prices are still very high and I found a Portuguese firm who make budget-priced crossplies which fit the A40.
    I’ve found these tyres to be perfectly acceptable and give good service. (The first time I had a set fitted, I asked my local tyre specialist to give them a good hard look – he closely examined them and then uttered those unforgettable words “Yep, absolutely safe for general driving, but I wouldn’t trust them above ninety.” As the A40’s speedometer only goes to a very optimistic 80mph anyway, I think I’m safe!)
    I have no connection with either company mentioned above other than as a satisfied customer.


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