Tyres for 3.8 Jaguars




Some time ago I seem to remember correspondence relating to the Dunlop tyre-eating capabilities of Jaguar cars. It is only fair therefore that someone should rush into print with praise for the new Dunlop SP41. And who better qualified than my partner and I, who gross 80,000 – 100,000 miles per annum with two 3.8 Jaguars?

But first a few words about other tyres tried. Dunlop RS5s gave 9,000 – 11,000 miles and whilst in every respect, other than durability, were ideally suited to the 3.8, we were depressed to see 5 per cent, of the tyre disappear after a day’s trip to the North.

Pirelli Cinturas averaged 17,000 miles, but no garage seemed to be able to balance the front wheels properly. Vibration at the steering wheel at around 100 m.p.h. spoilt the cruise up the M1 and the remedy of travelling at 80-90 m.p.h. or at a constant 120 m.p.h. was not acceptable. We liked the tyre, and in fact I believe the SP41 owes a lot to Pirelli, but somewhere it was not as good as we had anticipated. Maybe we expected too much after those advertisements featuring illustrious motoring personalities enraptured with Cintura qualities.

Michelin Xs were the next to be tried and here we found two very definite schools of thought, even at the Jaguar factory. People either considered us mad or we found Jaguar drivers who would not fit anything else. To be kind, general road-holding was most peculiar, especially in the wet and with Michelin’s recommended pressures where the rear tyres have more air than those at the front. The car never went where it was told round fast bends, requiring all sorts of corrective measures at the wheel. We ended up with 36 p.s.i. all round, which I suppose largely discounted the low pressures advantage of “Xs,” but the tyres lasted for 50,000 miles!

We were prepared to suffer Michelin “X” idiosyncrasies for five times the life of RS5s, but a last despairing patriotic letter to Dunlops produced a charming reply and some real action. Within days our two Jaguars were fitted with SP41s and we had a grand time being all mysterious when other envious and tyre-conscious drivers came up to inspect.

The SP41 is in my opinion all that Dunlops claim. If you like a braced tread it’s the best, certainly for a Jaguar 3.8. Roadholding in the wet is excellent and the all important durability is at least 20,000 miles. On one car 23,000 miles were recorded before changing to another set. The other car has so far achieved 16,000 miles and although it spends more time on Motorways it should certainly reach 20,000 miles when another set of SP41s will be fitted unless anyone can suggest an alternative? I suppose it is too much to hope for SP41 qualities plus “X” mileage.

So much for the tyre, but what about the car? Well, there is no better value for this sort of motoring than a 3.8 (manual with overdrive, of course) and 100,000 miles in about 2-1/2 years still leaves the cars in exceptionally good order for the next owner. However, there is no need to have two 4/5-seaters and I must own a DB4 or 5. I am probably going to regret any excursion away from Jaguar to “Exotica,” because I have a feeling that such cars are not made in enough quantity to have the “bugs” ironed out for this type of motoring. Any suggestions? What two cars would you own?

Peter Messenger – Beaconsfield.