As we all know, building an old truck can present all sorts of problems, but you shouldn't let selecting tires be one of them. It only takes a few minutes to learn the basics of tire manufacturing and figure out the right tires for your application, even though it's one of the easiest places to make a mistake during your truck's buildup. Some folks base their decision strictly from a budget standpoint, and end up using run-of-the-mill tires simply because they're cheaper than specialty tires, like whitewalls. We're not saying that's a bad thing, but it's still important to know what you're dealing with before you take the plunge.

Many of the trucks we feature were originally built in a time when bias-ply tires were the norm, but it's not surprising that most folks upgrade to radial technology, simply based on the smoother ride and better handling. Knowing the characteristics of each form of tire manufacturing is a big step toward narrowing down your choices, and then it basically comes down to overall size and sidewall treatment. There are many companies to choose from, with many different offerings, in terms of size, style, and construction, so do your homework before nailing down a specific tire decision.

And while the opinion of a customer sales representative is highly valued, we suggest chatting with fellow enthusiasts to get real-world feedback on particular tires. If you see a car or truck at an event and it rolls on a set of tires that peak your interest, talk to the owner and see how he likes them. Of course, chassis and suspension setup greatly affects the way a truck rides, so try talking with a few different people with similar tires and get their feedback. It's a step that can make your decision a lot easier.

Tire Development
Without question, the most common misconception in the hot rod and classic truck industry is the origin of specialty tires. Some companies use existing radial tires and apply the sidewall treatment as a secondary manufacturing process. Although it's reasonably priced and produces a good-looking tire, this method of production isn't nearly as in-depth as developing a tire from scratch. Modifying the sidewall of a tire does little for its structural stability, so other companies take the time to develop tires and manufacture them from scratch, with the sidewall treatment integrated from day one of production. Corky Coker of Coker Tire likes to call his tires a "whitewall tire with a birth certificate" because each specialty tire is born with that particular sidewall treatment built-in, just like they were in the good ole days.

Whether it's a bias-ply or a radial design, the development of a true specialty tire starts with a mold. Some molds are the original units from years past, while others are brand-new molds, built from original drawings from its original manufacturer or from scratch as a totally new design. For example, the very popular line of Firestone Deluxe Champion bias-ply tires are officially licensed by Firestone, and produced exclusively by Coker Tire. And though many bias-ply tires are produced from original molds, the use of modern materials and build techniques gives you the best of both worlds-authentic looks and modern manufacturing. Once the mold is revamped and ready to begin producing tires, the time is taken to test the finished product, using rigorous techniques to determine the particular tire's speed and load rating, as well as eliminating production flaws before the tire hits the market. It's this type of research and development that puts Coker Tire at the top of the food chain, in our opinion.