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Old 11-27-2005   #1
RASCARS
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Help Me Please Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

GTA Fans,

Hope everyone had a Great Thanksgiving!!

I need your help and suggestions please.
My 1988 GTA (305) needs new tires. I would like to put the correct original tires back on the car. I found out, through the sales litertature, the car came equipped with Goodyear Eagle "Gatorback" 245 50 VR 16's.
I have checked Tire Rack and Goodyear and do not find Eagle Gatorback as an offering. Is Gatorback a nickname for a specific Eagle tire?
What is the gatorback and where can I find them? What should I be looking for?
My second issue:
While looking through the manual for the tire info, I ran across a piece of info about the wheels on the GTA. The book (owner's manual) instructs GTA owners to dismount the tires and rotate just the tires leaving the wheels in their original factory position. I purchased my car when it was 17 years old. It has 43,000 miles and has had at least one set of tires. How do I verify which wheel goes where on my car?
I hope this makes sense to you all. If not, let me know so I can clairify what I am trying to figure out.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Bob
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Old 11-27-2005   #2
StrokedGTA88
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

....Goodyear Eagle "Gatorback" 245 50 VR 16's.

Well first off The name "GATOR- BACK" is a nick name given the tires for it's aggressive tread pattern that I might add were just the cream of the crop on DRY PAVEMENT when warm. The GATOR-BACK sux when it came to any sort of moisture hence why they are not is mass production these days. I'm sure you can still get some on special order from a Goodyear dealer BUT..... they are pretty much out dated. If ya want preformance BFG's are good I find in Canada 'COOPER' tires are great value for all round street wear when ya smoke 'em enough they stay very warm to get 1/4 strip traction but wear great for every day driving.
As far as correct wheels/rims on front and back, the offset is waaayy different from front to back, the calipers would rub when the backs were forced onto the fronts. It also has markings "REAR" and "FRONT" in the inside of the wheel.
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Old 11-28-2005   #3
RASCARS
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Help Me Please Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

Thanks for your rapid response.
I would like to keep the car as original as possible. That's why I'm trying to figure out which Eagle is the correct original equipment.
Any more tire info would be helpful.
I'm going to pull the wheels this weekend and check for the front/rear markings.
This wheel situatuion is only on GTA's? What was the difference on the GTA's that made this wheel deal necessary?
Thanks
Bob
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Old 11-28-2005   #4
gtayumiko
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

I use GoodYear products because I want to keep my GTA as original as possible, even though they do not make the gatorback style anymore. I have GS-C ZR rated on my car now. GoodYear was the brand of tires that came on my car new.

About that offset of front and back. Actually, for first eight year that I had my GTA, I did not know about the difference of front and back rims. I was able to use back ones in the front, only thing happen was the tie-rods would hit the wheel weights if you had the ones that are pounded onto the edge of the rim lip. So I would just have them put on the taped on ones. My rims never hit the calipers, just the tie-rods would hit the weights. After however, I replace the tie-rods, the new ones were just a little bit bigger then the factory tie-rods. This then cause the rim to hit the tie-rods really badly. The front tires would not even turn if mounting back ones on front after replacement of tie-rods. That is when I find out that there was a difference - front and back rims. Yumiko
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Old 11-28-2005   #5
FearThisGTA
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

AS far as the tires are concerned I believe those tires maybe dicontinued. I may be wrong but I think that is correct. You may have to contact Goodyear Tech for more info. AS for the wheels, I had a 89 Formula that had had the same wheel spacing front and rear. So I would tend to say that it was part of the factory design in 3rd gens. Oh and I have seen it first hand on Camaro's as well.
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1991 GTA Trans Am
w/305,231 miles
on the original motor!!!!
Time of Death on motor, 4:07pm on 05/29/2010.
Hp:211.2@4200rpms/Tq.328.5@2700rpms
Best et: 13.959@97.05mph
Best mph: 98.3
Best 60' : 1.875 on BFG Comp TA's w/ 32 lbs of air in them
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Old 11-28-2005   #6
TripleTransAm
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

The offset was a 'feature' of 3rd gen F-bodies with 16 inch wheels. It was a necessary evil in order to allow usage of 16inch wheels on a chassis that was initially designed to hold 15inch wheels with tires no wider than 215 mm. So the 16 inch 245mm tire was indeed a stretch beyond the original design.

GTA wheels had the different offsets, so did the "regular" T/A 16 inch turbo wheels (also used on Formulae). Camaro IROC 16 inchers also had the same offset deal.

The original tire was the Gatorback VR tire, which has been described properly above as trash. Even in the dry, I cannot say the compound was anything outstanding, but that is of course compared to today's offerings. They were noisy and the original units on my GTA were splitting in between the tread blocks from dry rot, at 20000 miles. I replaced them with same-size Goodyear GS-Cs, which were immensely quieter on the road and were SO much more safe in the rain (back in the 1993-1995 time frame I still drove that car in the rain). Also, being a ZR rated tire instead of VR, the sidewalls were noticeably stiffer so the ride quality 'suffered' a little (I used quotes there, because I actually welcomed the small improvement in handling response even though the ride got a *little* harsher).

Because the car is only out on non-rain days since 1995, I don't tend to wear them down before they need replacing... they tend to flat-spot easily if you leave the car parked at normal pressures for a month or more. I did not notice the same tendency with the Goodyear F1s that came on my WS6.

Personally I think it will be next to impossible to find a Gatorback but I could be wrong. Besides, for pure driving enjoyment, I'd opt for the GS-C (which is currently still available in 245/50-16 sizes ONLY because it was OEM on 4th gen cars! All other sizes are discontinued). I'd avoid BFG KDWS because I have some at 245mm on my two Mercury Marauders, and they wear down the center prematurely because of crappy sidewall design. I cannot comment on other models of BFG tires, though (I have the raised white letter T/A radials on my '78, and they seem to be wearing evenly...).

I have a spare set of GS-Cs that are replacing my current flat-spotted GS-Cs on my GTA this coming spring. Some years down the line when it'll be time to replace them because of flat-spotting as well, I might opt for a different model of Goodyear tire or perhaps some other manufacturer.
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Old 11-28-2005   #7
MunsonGTA
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

i run the nitto extreme performance 450's on my car, they are all weather and handle great no matter how it is outside. I've drove the car in everything from rain to NE ohio snow with them. Not to mention they are somewhat cheap and have a great tread design. If you're going to get an aftermarket tire you'll need to decide what you're going to do with the car. Are you going to drag it once in awhile? Or will it be baby'd everyday for the rest of it's life? Different tires have different traction and treadwear ratings, they do make a difference.

my nitto's were only around 90 bucks a tire, free shipping to my house from tire.com.
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Old 11-28-2005   #8
RASCARS
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

Thank you all for your information and insight.
This is a great place with wonderful people!!!
I'll keep you posted as I investigate and make decisions.
Thanks
Bob
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Old 11-28-2005   #9
nblanchard
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

Yeah.. scrap the Gatorback idea.. noone's gonna shoot you down for having aftermarket tires I have Kuhmo's on the back of ym car now.. great bang for the buck
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Old 11-28-2005   #10
TripleTransAm
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

In the odd chance you're worried about looks, the GSC-Cs (in my opinion) offer an interesting alternative to the blocky tread of the Gatorbacks. I find the GS-C a handsome tire:






Initially, the change was extremely noticeable (to me, anyway, because I'm picky) but now I can't imagine my car with anything remotely Gatorback-looking. I did find one photo I scanned of my car back in 1993 with the original Gatorbacks... can't see much of the tire except you can tell the tread blocks are very noticeable. Comparing the two, it's no surprise that so many people stuffed F-bodies and Vettes into guardrails in the rain.



Anyway, good luck in your search. I don't know what your ultimate goal is with the car, so that will no doubt influence your decision. But tires are your last (little) contact patch between you and the ground, and you and your entire car's control and safety rely on them.
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Old 11-29-2005   #11
FearThisGTA
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GTA Year: 1991
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

Well said!!!
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Cliff Jones
1991 GTA Trans Am
w/305,231 miles
on the original motor!!!!
Time of Death on motor, 4:07pm on 05/29/2010.
Hp:211.2@4200rpms/Tq.328.5@2700rpms
Best et: 13.959@97.05mph
Best mph: 98.3
Best 60' : 1.875 on BFG Comp TA's w/ 32 lbs of air in them
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Old 11-30-2005   #12
FrankieRider2
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GTA Year: 1988
GTA Engine: 350 TPI Automatic
Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

RASCARS, had a great holiday here. Thanks for the greeting.... way too much to eat, just like every year.

The Gatorbacks are not produced by Goodyear anymore to my knowledge. The only size I ever see is the 275/45-16 that are on eBay regularly; sometimes they are listed as new tires, but I imagine that they are only stock left over from someplace that sells Goodyear tires and the vendors pick them up as old/discontinued stock for a lower price and then resell them. Occasionally you will see the 225/60-15 that was used on the 1987-1992 Mustang GT on there as well, but never the 245/50-16 that was used on the F-Bodies.

The original VR50s on my car lasted me an entire 11,000 miles, and the Goodyear dealer wanted to hit me for about $1400 to replace them back in the day; so I defected to Firestone for many years. In the past year I have gone back to Goodyear tires because they were the OEM supplier.

My Notchback has a set of 245/50-16 Eagle GT+4 tires on it, and they are really good tires.... but they are no longer available in that size either. My local tire dealer just happened to have a set in one of their warehouses, and I got them for $90 each installed. They still have the big, blockly sidewall like the Gatorbacks had.... lately Goodyear has been getting away from that in their performance tire lines with the newer rounded sidewalls and the grooved tire sides.

For my red GTA, I dropped back to the new Eagle GT-HP. Now before I get crucified here, in my defense I do not use my car everyday and do not need the latest speed-rated tires just for the sake of having the best; the car hasn't been over 100 mph is many years. Even though the new GT-HP's are only H-rated... the kicker for me was that from about 5-10 feet, the tread looks almost exactly like the old Gatorbacks looked. Up close you notice that the big blocky sidewall is not present, but the tread itself is almost an exact match.

So if you like the look of the Gatorback VR/ZR50, and can live with the lower speed rating... the Eagle GT-HP is definitely worth a look.

OK, now I've got my flame-retrardant suit on.... so fire away!
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Old 11-30-2005   #13
FearThisGTA
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GTA Year: 1991
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

About the closest I have found to the tread design of the Gatorbacks is the BFG Comp T/A's and they handle great. Even though I dont drive it like I used, I still like have a good handlin tire on it b/c I drive it HARD when I drive it. They seem to work well for me and they were affordable.
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Cliff Jones
1991 GTA Trans Am
w/305,231 miles
on the original motor!!!!
Time of Death on motor, 4:07pm on 05/29/2010.
Hp:211.2@4200rpms/Tq.328.5@2700rpms
Best et: 13.959@97.05mph
Best mph: 98.3
Best 60' : 1.875 on BFG Comp TA's w/ 32 lbs of air in them
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Old 11-30-2005   #14
TripleTransAm
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankieRider2
OK, now I've got my flame-retrardant suit on.... so fire away!

No flames here. Good info, I had no idea you could still find some Gatorbacks out there. I thought they had all crumbled into little itty bitty piles of rubber dust by now.

About the H-rating... in the 12+ years I've owned my GTA (or it has owned me, depends on one's perspective), I've had the car above 100 mph a total of 2 maybe 3 times total, most of the time I've kept to a self-imposed ceiling of 70 mph (it seems more fuel efficient at that speed anyway). So although I myself don't have any use for Z-ratings (or V, for that matter), I would probably find it hard to go from a stiff-sidewall tire to an H-rated tire, simply because I am so sensitive to the handling of my cars. (I remember once discovering to my horror that one of my rear tires was at 18 psi pressure after a random spot check for no reason than I was bored... the tire looked just like it did when inflated to 30 psi. No sidewall bulging. Now that's stiff...)
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Old 11-30-2005   #15
FearThisGTA
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GTA Year: 1991
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Re: Help needed with wheels and new tires Please

I am thinkin myself though since I dont drive it as much now, when I upgrade to 17's that I will put the GSC's back on their. MAN!!! Those tires do handle!!!
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Cliff Jones
1991 GTA Trans Am
w/305,231 miles
on the original motor!!!!
Time of Death on motor, 4:07pm on 05/29/2010.
Hp:211.2@4200rpms/Tq.328.5@2700rpms
Best et: 13.959@97.05mph
Best mph: 98.3
Best 60' : 1.875 on BFG Comp TA's w/ 32 lbs of air in them
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