Bill Kay Corvettes: Tips for Measuring Your C2 Corvette for Wheel and Tire Fitment

March 27th, 2017 by

1966 Chevrolet Corvette StingRay Coupe

When you find that perfect C2 Corvette, you want to make sure that every detail is just perfect. The paint is smooth and glossy, the interior is plush and refined, but what about the wheels? No one wants to be a Corvette owner with awkward backspacing or tires that are just a little too small. If you want to make sure that every square inch of your C2 is impeccable, then pay close attention to the advice from Bill Kay Corvettes. We specialize in Corvettes of any generation, and our service department is among the best in the Chicagoland area. Learn our tricks for measuring your C2 Corvette for wheel and tire fitment!

C2 History

The earlier generations of Corvettes were exceptionally unique vehicles, which is just one of the many reasons they’ve maintained their popularity over the years. Though legendary, the narrow body of the C1 and C2 generations led to cramped work conditions when dealing with the wheels. Depending on your C2 model year, you may find these factors impact you more or less. The drum brake cars between 1963 and 1967 are all relatively similar in dimension, but the 1965 model has a larger track width to accommodate disc brakes.

What does that mean for you? If your ’63 or ’64 Corvette has drum brakes, then you may need to think strategically when upgrading to disc brakes. Your current wheel and tire configuration may get in the way, so consider zero offset rotors or a brake kit to add extra space. If you are dealing with a C2 from 1965 through 1967, keep in mind that your disc brakes will add 3/4 of an inch of width compared to the drum brakes of other models.

Modifications

While many drivers have done the research and scoured the internet for suitable parts, others rely on modifications to skip the headache. Especially popular in the 1970s, many C2 Corvettes were fitted with fender flares to give owners a bit more leeway when finding wheel sets that fit. These modifications allowed for a larger tire and wheel set without dealing with awkward fit issues. While convenient, the addition of fender flares interferes with the fiberglass body of the Corvette. Decide for yourself if the convenience is worth the tradeoff in authenticity, especially given the rising value of well-preserved C2s.

Measuring Your Wheels

So, how do you find that perfect set of wheels to complement your vintage Corvette? We’ll walk you through the steps.

  • Place a jack under the front of the vehicle to place the wheels approximately at ride height and remove the wheels.
  • Start by measuring the overall wheel width, not to be confused with the advertised rim width. Measure the outermost surface of the rim to establish the backspacing.
  • Now, take measurements of the front wheel well. Start by measuring the mounting surface up to the wheelhouse lip with a straightedge. Then, measure the steering arm to make sure you have sufficient tire clearance during turns.
  • After you’ve established your baseline measurements, turn the wheels as far to the left as possible and repeat your measurements. This helps you find the proper tire diameter. Repeat the process with your wheels turned to the right.
  • Move the jack to the center of the car and take the rear wheels off. Start with your rear wheel measurements. Assess the tire diameter allowance, checking for bumpstop brackets that may interfere with fitment. You may need to remove this bracket if you need extra clearance for a fat tire. If your car has drum brakes, you will need to consider the leaf spring when fitting tires.
  • Now, secure your straightedge with a clamp to the quarter-panel to take the wheel well measurement. If you have trimmed away the bumpstop, you’ll have a little extra room now.

After taking these extensive measurements, you should be able to determine the ideal wheels and tires with ease. Be sure to consider your brake type as well. Overall, you’ll want to ensure that your new wheels and tires clear the suspension while aligning with the wheel opening. Follow those guidelines and your C2 will look sharp on the roads and drive like a dream!

Take Your C2 to Bill Kay Corvettes!

These tips should help you get started, but if you still need assistance, Bill Kay Corvettes can help with measuring your C2 Corvette for wheel and tire fitment. Just contact us online with any questions, or visit our dealership for recommendations from certified Corvette experts! We look forward to helping you bring out the beauty in your C2 Corvette.