'68-'74 Nova Tire Fitment

General Information
The general thought is that if the tire placement inside the wheel well is optimized, 275/60-15s will fit the back, and 235/60-15s will fit the front on a '68-'74 Nova with a stock, good condition, suspension. If the springs are sagging or you have the wrong wheel offset, though, those sizes may not fit. Other wheel and tire sizes will certainly fit as well, but the sizes just mentioned are quite popular.

Specific Examples
1972
235/60-15 front - 275/60-15 rear
My '72 has the above tire sizes. The fronts are mounted on 15x7 Rally wheels with 4.25" of backspacing. The rears are mounted on 15x8 Rallys with 4.5" of backspacing.

This is how the car sits...yes, that's the same paint, but different cameras and lighting. Sorry.

Here's how the front tire and wheel fits in relation to the fender, frame, and sway bar:

Overall:

Driver's Side - top:

Passenger's Side - top:

Passenger's Side - rear of front tire at fender:

Passenger's Side - frame at full-lock:

Driver's Side - frame at full-lock:

Passenger's Side - sway bar at full-lock:

Driver's Side - sway bar at full-lock:

The fronts fit well, but there's only about 1/2"-3/4" of clearance from the frame at full lock (front and back of the tire, both sides of the car) and from the outer tie rods and the anti-sway bar. Also, there's about 1/2" of clearance between the tire and the trailing edge of the front wheel openings. I could not fit a taller tire of similar width on my Nova whatsoever.

Here's the rear:


The passenger side rear tire rubs on the inside of the inner fender and the driver's side rear tire rubs on the outside of the inner fender, but this rubbing only occurs rarely and only over big bumps or with a significant load in the car. Obviously the frame isn't perfectly aligned in the car, but in talking to several other '68-'74 Nova owners, it sounds like this offset is very common. If the rearend housing were perfectly centered in the body, neither tire would hit.

Also, the front suspension has had one coil cut off the springs, so they are shorter and slightly stiffer than stock V8 A/C springs. This car also has a fiberglass hood, aluminum intake, headers, A/C removed, and the battery is in the trunk, all of which will lighten the front end and therefore it will sit slightly higher. One more thing - the inner fender panels are removed. I don't think they would hit the tires at full lock, but I haven't verified that.

255/60-15 front
Tried it just for a test. Didn't work at all. They were too tall because the outer corner of the tire hit the trailing edge of the fender opening when turning. Never even drove it that way.

235/60-14 front - 255/60-15 rear
These pics show the same car as above, but with 235/60-14s on 14x6 Rallys with 3.5" backspacing on the front and 255/60-15s on 15x7 Rallys with 4.25" backspacing out back. Again, the fronts never hit, but the driver's rear hit in the same situations as above. The reason for the smaller rear tire rubbing the same as the larger one above, is because of the backspacing. The outsides of these rear tires were in the same spot as the larger ones above, but because of the 1" less backspacing, the inside of the tire was 1" farther away from the inner fender panel. So the inside had an inch of clearance, but the outside was right at the fender.

Here's how the car looked with these tires:

These pics were with the aluminum intake, headers, battery up front, A/C removed, stock (uncut) front springs, 'glass hood (well, the pic with the hood inplace, obviously!).

215/60-14 front - 235/60-14 rear
These pics show the same car as above, but with 215/60-14s on 14x7 Rocket Stage 1 wheels of unknown backspacing up front and 235/60-14s on the similar wheels of unknown backspacing out back. They never hit anything.

Here's how it sat with a stock iron 454 with headers, battery in the trunk, A/C removed, stock small block A/C front springs, old stock multi-leaf rear springs.

Here's how it sat with the same tires, but with a stock 307. It's sitting on uneven ground, but it's real close to what it looked like on pavement. Battery up front, headers, A/C removed, stock front springs, new rear multi-leaf rear springs.:

1973 and 1974
235/60-15 front - 235/60-15 rear
Craig had 235/60-15s on 15x7 Rallys front and back of his '73 and on his old '74. Slight rubbing up front on the '74 with the wheels at full lock while hitting a bump, but the stock front springs had sagged a little.

185/75-14 front - 245/60-15 rear
At another time Craig had 245/60-15 on 15x7 Rallys on the back with no rubbing. The rear was about one inch higher than stock, the front was at stock height.

245/60-15 rear
Here it is with some 245/60-15 Hoosier Quick Times, the rear was about one inch higher than stock.

265/55-15 rear
Later, Craig had 265/55-15 M&H Racemaster wrinkle-walls on 15x7 Rallys out back. Slight rubbing on the driver's side shock and on the fender on the passenger side when the tire was at low pressure. The passenger's side fender lip was rolled. At or near factory stock height.

185/75-14 front - 275/60-15 rear
He had Moroso drag springs up front which left the front end about an inch lower than stock, and the rear was about at stock height.

215/60-14
On a 14x6 Rally. Fit fine front and back without rubbing.

185/75-14 front - 235/60-15 rear
Here's Craig's '73 with 185/75-14s on 14x6 Rallys with 3.5" backspacing and 1" spacers (effectively making the fronts 2.5" backspacing) on the front and 235/60-15s on 15x7 Rallys with 3.5" backspacing out back. He has since switched to 255/60-15s out back with no problems and this is his current setup for the street. One more thing, he just got some new, cheap rear shocks and with those new shocks his 275/60-15 BFG Drag Radials don't rub AT ALL, even over sizeable bumps!
Here's how it sits with those 185 and 235 tires:

1970
195/70-14 front - 245/60-14 rear
Bob Rowe has 195/70-14 Goodyear Eagle STs on 14x7 Rallys with 3.5" backspacing up front and 245/60-14 Goodyear Eagle STs on 14x8 Rallys with 5" backspacing from Wheel Vintiques out back. He tried 4.5" backspacing but they rubbed the wheelwell lip during hard cornering and with hard-core pothole contact.

New multi-leaf springs and shocks are in the factory location, but the rear has been raised one inch with homemade shackles. No rubbing at any time, front or rear. The rear setup is as large as he can go without relocating the shocks inboard and backspacing more. 15" wheels will clear the shocks better than 14", however. This is on a daily driver, and has been such since 1975!

Here's how Bob's car sits on those tires:

215/60-14 rear
Bob also runs 215/60-14s on 14x7 factory Rallys occasionally on the back, also without any problems.

1970
275/60-15 rear
Jeff M. Jr. has a '70 SS and has 275/60-15s on 15x8 Weld Draglites with 4" backspacing with absolutely no rubbing. He also states his car is lowered down over the tires.

1971
275/60-15 rear
Larry tried some 275/60-15s on 15x8s with 4" backspacing and they stuck out too far on the outside. He then found some 15x7s with 4-1/4" backspacing, put the same tires on them, and they work great. They lightly rub the outboard side of the inner wheel housing over big bumps, but for the most part they fit great. And that is with sagging monoleaf rear springs. He also said that going with a one-inch narrower wheel narrowed the tire by 1/2", which gave him additional clearance.

Here are some shots of what his car looks like:

1972
245/45-17 front and rear
Casey has a '72 Nova with some big wheels! He's got 245/45-17 Nitto 555 Extremes all around and they're mounted to 17x8 rallys with 4.5" backspacing on the front and back. The rear has been lowered with 1" lowering blocks and the front has been lowered with 2" dropped springs. No rubbing at all!

Here's his '72:

1971
28 x 11.5-15 rear
Andrew's got a '70 Nova with some 28 x 11.5 x 15 slicks mounted up on Weld 15x10 Draglites with 5" backspacing. This car does have a Ford 9" rear, however, and I'm not sure the source, the width, or if it's been shortened. Andrew had to remove the tube from around the shocks and also had to do some slight modification of the inner fenders, too, including removal of the inner fender lips.

Andrew runs 275/60-15s on the street.

Here are some shots of his '70:

1969
28 x 11.5-15 rear
Here's a '69 Nova with some 28 x 11.5 x 15 M/T street slicks mounted up on Weld 15x8.5 Draglites with 4.75" backspacing. He ground down the inner fender lips to where they meet the part where the quarter panel is spot-welded together (where it's a double layer of metal). He's running M/T skinnies up front on 15x3 wheels and obviously he has no fitment problems with those.

He did try the same rear tires on 15x8s with 4" backspacing and it didn't work, that added half-inch of backspacing is all he needed to get them to fit. He's still got about 3/4" clearance at the inside of the tire so he could bump up to 5" backspacing (as Andrew did above) and that's he'd recommend.

The car has a 396, TH400, stock rearend with 3.73 gears, and a 125 hp NOS system.

Here's his '69:

1969
245/40-17 front and 275/40-17 rear
Jeff has set up his '69 Nova with some big meats! He went for the Pro-Touring/G-Machine look (and performance) this time with 17x9 Camaro SS wheels from SLP Engineering. He had to get some adapters from Vette Brakes to get them to mount up (because of the typical late-model huge backspacing) but it's all worked out quite nicely as you can see.

Jeff went with Bridgestone Potenza RE730 tires from The Tire Rack, 245/40-17 up front and 275/40-17 out back. The rears fit very nicely in his stock wheelwells with about a half-inch clearance on each side. The fronts hit the wheelwells a little on hard bumps and they rub slightly when the steering wheel is at full lock. He does have stock, weak springs, shocks, and bushings right now so upgrading those parts will likely reduce the tendency to rub.

1970
275/50-15 rear
Don moved his shocks inboard and used a set of Weld 15x8s with 5.5" backspacing to mount up his 275/50-15 BFG Drag Radials. No problems at all!

1971
295/50-15 rear
These guys tried some 295/50-15s on 15x7 wheels with 4.5" backspacing and it actually fit with no problems! Amazing.

1972
255/40-17 front and 255/40-17 rear
Shawn's putting 255/40-17s on the back of his '72 and 235/40-17s on the front, but he tried the rears up front as a test. They fit! His inner fender panels are out, which allowed the tires to fit, but that being the case there are no clearance issues at all. The wheels are 17x8 with 5" backspacing.

1972
275/40-17 rear
Shawn says he can get a 275/40-17 tire mounted on 17x8 wheels with 5" BS installed on the rear of his '72 with little or no rubbing (depending on the condition of the suspension).

1971
205/40-16 front and rear
Holy cow, is this beautiful or what? Chris is running 16x7 Torq-Thrusts he got from Jeg's that have 4.75" backspacing, and he threw on some 205/40-16 tires to complete the look. No rubbing or clearance issues at all.

1969
205/70-15 front and 275/60-15 rear
Willie has a '69 with 205/70-15s up front on 15x6 wheels with 4" BS, and 275/60-15s out back on 15x7s with 4-1/8" BS. He trimmed the fender lips for added safety, but has no rubbing issues with the factory 12-bolt and original leaf springs. He does have extended shackles for a little added lift, however.

1968
28x11.5 rear
Mark runs 28x11.5 ET Streets on 15x7 Weld Pro Stars with 4.5" BS. He's got Competition Engineering shocks with no dust covers. He used to run the same setup on his '72 except with Pep Boys shocks with the dust covers cut off. He gained at least one extra inch of clearance by doing that. He also runs 275/60-15 Drag Radials on the same rims with no problems.

1973
235/60-15 front and rear
Ryan hails from Phoenix and here's his '73. He's got 235/60-15 BFG Radial T/As on 15x7 Weld Draglites that have 3.5" backspacing on all four corners. No rubbing at all in the rear, and only slight rubbing up front at the back edge of the wheel opening. Lookin' good, Ryan!

1970
235/45-17 front and 255/45-17 rear
This is Dan's gorgeous 1970 Nova when it just had a little 454. He's dumped the drag-racing setup to go over to the pro-touring side of things and is running BFGoodrich G-Force T/A KDWS tires on American Racing Torq-Thrust II 505 Series wheels all around. Up front he's running 235/45-17s on 17x7s with 3.95" backspacing and in back he's got 255/45-17s on 17x8s with 4.75" backspacing. He says he could have easily fit 275/40-17s out back with his rolled fender lips.

1970
245/40-17 front and 245/45-17 rear
Here's a '70 Nova with the Pro-Touring look. It's got Boyd's Magnetos wheels, 17x7s up front and 17x8s in back. The owner reports minimal rubbing up front on hard left turns only, no rubbing in the rear.

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Copyright 2012 Bruce Johnson and Craig Watson