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Author Topic: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion  (Read 2996 times)

Offline Flygirl62

Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« on: August 13, 2013, 12:03:39 AM »
I'm doing a bit of search, also learning more about offset/backspacing, etc. Thinking about replacing the stock 13" steel wheels on my '73 with Minilite-style wheels. Possibly 15" or 16".

What is the width and offset of the stock 13" steel wheel on my '73? And how can I specify the correct aftermarket wheel?

Thank you!

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Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2013, 07:29:36 AM »
I'm pretty sure the width is 7. Not. Sure about offset. And the bolt pattern is 4x4.25 (4x108)
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Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2013, 01:07:59 AM »
i think (not sure) that the stock steel wheels were 5.5" in width.  Back spacing I couldn't say.
i had a set of old school magnesium mini-lites on my '71 that were 13 x 7" and fit beautifully with a 185/70-13 Dunlop SP4 tire.
i later had a set of steel 13" x 7" wheels made that had a 4" back spacing that also fit great. tucked into the wheel well and with the car lowered almost to rock bottom they never exhibited any clearance issues.
the key here, i believe, is height of the assembly taking backspacing into mind.
i never had a tire over 24.5" in height. with 15" or 16" wheels the tire will definately fill up the wheel opening (pinto wheel wells are quite large) but the diameter is critical in that it will determine what size you may be able to use.
i know there are others here that have used the larger diameter wheels/tires successfully. perhaps they will chime in with some more specific dimensions
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Offline Flygirl62

Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2013, 10:25:13 PM »
Thank you.

Hmmm, now thinking about why I'd want such a large diameter wheel.

So, what I'm getting is that different back spacing dimensions can work on the car, depending on...what?
Fender Clearance?

Is there some spread to stay within? I've heard that the wrong back spacing can reduce wheel bearing life and cause excessive suspension wear.

Offline cossiepinto

Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2013, 04:48:06 PM »


Here is what I wound up with when I ordered my Minilites: 15"x 7" on 4.25" bolt circle with 3 13/16" backspacing and a 2.5" center hole.  I decided on the standard Ford bolt circle to avoid confusion later, should I change my mind or eventually sell the car (No one lives forever).

I did use aftermarket hubs, etc., but they fit the original Ford track width dimensions.  The tires are 225/50-15s.

Here is a picture of the car soon after the wheels and tires went on.  The suspension is at full droop in the pic, but there are other pics of the car in my forum post.  I had cut down springs (9.5") in front and 1" lowering blocks in the rear, and I had no problems with fender clearance.

After installing the engine, I found that the springs and 2" dropped spindles lowered the car too much in front, so I bought some 11" long springs.  The 9 inchers would have been perfect without the dropped spindles, though.

Even with the 9 inch springs and dropped spindles the wheels and tires fit, but there might have been a little fender rub on sharp turns.  With either of the two (not both), I think the car would be fine.

I found a pic of the Pinto in profile, taken the day I took it to get in interior rhino-lined. There's no engine in it, but you can see the fender clearance pretty well.

Offline Flygirl62

Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2013, 12:57:54 AM »
Your car is amazing! You're probably so sick of hearing that, I'm sure, but superlatives have been exhausted.  :-)  You know, I saw your build thread, drooled over it really. Perhaps that's why I got the idea for the Minilites? I think the 15s are a great choice. The air dam is great too, really period it looks to me.

I wonder if I could change the back spacing slightly to tuck the wheels further into the wheel wells of my car? Or perhaps go an inch narrower? Still figuring out how/if wheel width has an effect on backspacing, or if that's only offset...

I also seem to remember a Racer Walsh catalog from way back that listed these wheels for sale, and probably still have it somewhere.

BTW, my car also happens to be lowered, although in the pic it seems lower than it really is, especially in front. I'm re-posting; y'all may well have not seen it.

Offline L.D

Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 10:30:24 AM »
im in the market for wheels also to you check out the rota rb style they have a 4x108 15x7 not sure about the offset .

Offline cossiepinto

Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2013, 06:12:42 AM »

I wanted the Pinto to be kind of period-dated, so the Minilites were my first and only serious choice.  I contacted John Targett at JBRITCARS.com.  You can find him by searching for "Minilite USA" pretty easily.

Just looked it up:  the link is www.minilitewh eels.us/ .

So the site is still there, even if he's retired.  He's a British fella, quite fun to talk to.

He handled all the process and was a great help.  The wheels cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $250-$300 apiece.

I found that 7 inches was just about as wide as I dared to use, considering backspacing (chassis rub) and outside offset (sticking out from under the fenders).  Mr. Targett and I mulled over the choices we had with the casting dies at Minilite and came up with the specs I posted to you earlier.

This size/configuration of wheel gives you room for 225/50 tire size and no interference with chassis or suspension unless the car is lowered too much in the front (earlier mention, too).  I might have had enough room for 15x8 wheels in back, but I didn't want to have two different sizes of wheels on the car.  I couldn't see any advantage that would have offset the hassle.  Anyway, the tires don't rub and they don't stick out.

I considered 16 inch wheels, which would have given me more room for larger brake rotors, but the ones I have fitted (10.5 inch with Wilwood Dynalite calipers) are plenty big enough.  Again, diminishing returns don't make much sense for larger (and heavier) brake rotors on a car this light.  Besides, 16 inch wheels might have taken away from the "vintage" look even more.

Thanks for your kind words about the front air dam.  A friend and I came up with that idea and he was the one who designed the opening to get more air in to the oil cooler.  The brake ducts break up the front a bit, too.  The dam follows the contour of the original Pinto filler plate that goes between the bumper and grille.  He did a nice job!

I'm adding a pic of the car from the rear, taken the same day I rolled it out to get it rhino-lined.  This will show how well tucked-in the rear tires are...no sticking out!  You can also see the mini quick-change rear end up under there, since the fuel cell isn't installed.



Offline cossiepinto

Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2013, 06:13:50 AM »
Oh, and I like that baby blue car of yours, by the way.  I always thought it was the best color for the Pinto.

Offline cossiepinto

Re: Minilite style wheels, sizing confusion
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2013, 07:29:50 AM »
Ok, this looks like I'm a stalker now!
I just had a thought:  Your car is a '71-'72, right?  I know the '71, '72, and maybe '73s had different suspension arms, shorter, I believe.  This might change your choices as far as wheel width up front.
Double check with others who have early Pintos to make sure 15x7s will fit ok.  I'm pretty sure they will, but.... 
I had some 13x8 inch Libre racing wheels from a vintage TransAm Pinto, and I tried them on my car (brake rotors not installed), and they fit fine, but I was afraid if I used 15x8s I'd get tire rub somewhere, so I went conservative with 15x7s.  The 13x8s actually came off a '72 TransAm Pinto, but he'd modified the A-arms, probably to '74 and up lengths.
One of the wheel companies I was considering before I bought the Minlites offered to send me a bolted-together mock up wheel to fit to the car to check.  Minilite may also offer this service, too.

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