Five Best Tires For Your Shelby Cobra

Posted October 21, 2020

By Dean Larson

Cobra replicas are many different things to many different people, and of course, knowing how you’ll build and use your car is of paramount importance when picking the right rubber. Weekend drivers, well-kept show queens or dedicated track cars might all necessitate different tires depending on how you’ll use the car, because after all, the rubber is your only connection to the road.

Beyond usage, you’ll want to keep your build style in mind, whether it’s exhausting period-correctness with 15-inch wheels, or something a bit more modern. That of course brings brake sizing, stance and suspension into the equation, so long story short, do your homework. To help get you on the right track, we’ve assembled a quick list of popular tire selections for Cobra roadsters and what they’re best suited for.

5. BF Goodrich Radial T/A

Type: DOT All-Season Tire

Use: Daily Driver

Sizes: 13, 14 and 15 inch

Price: Affordable

The BF Goodrich Radial T/A has been a staple in the American muscle car scene for decades. It’s affordable, available in a wide range of sizes and can be purchased most anywhere — and provides great performance characteristics as well.

The Radial T/A is going to shine most on your daily or weekend driver Cobra, and it’s going to provide a comfortable ride and favorable performance in wet or dirty conditions. This non-directional, DOT approved tire features twin steel belts and will weigh roughly 25 to 30 pounds per tire.

This tire is going to leave some performance on the table as compared to some of the more purpose-built options on the list, but excels in treadlife, all-season capability and cost effectiveness.

Find the BF Goodrich Radial T/A here on Tire Rack.

4. Toyo Proxes R888

Type: DOT Competition Tire

Use: Modernized Weekend Driver/Track Car

Sizes: 14, 16, 18 and 19 inch

Price: Intermediate

So you’ve got something a bit more contemporary, with 18- or 19-inch wheels? Well then the Toyo Proxes R888 might be a solid option for your modernized replica roadster. The Proxes R888 meets DOT requirements for street use, but was designed predominantly as a track and autocross tire. Therefore you’ll see some tradeoffs when used on a weekend warrior Cobra, like decreased performance in wet or cold conditions. However grip is second-to-none in dry conditions with this tire, and it features semi-slick portions for braking and steering response and a more rigid sidewall for lateral grip.

The Toyo Proxes R888 is one of the best modern tires for all-out performance if adverse conditions aren’t big factor for you. If you’re after better wet-weather performance, the Nitto NT555 G2 is also a strong performer in the high-performance Summer tire field.

Find the Toyo Proxes R888 here on Tire Rack.

3. Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/T

Type: DOT All-Season Tire

Use: Daily Driver

Sizes: 15 inch

Price: Affordable

Like the BF Gooodrich, the Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/T is designed for muscle car enthusiasts who are after good all-season performance, comfort and long treadlife in a 15-inch size. The tire features a five-rib tread design offering great weekend-warrior caliber performance, even when conditions get wet or dirty. They’re affordable and available in a wide-range of sizes on a 15-inch rim, and we’re seeing more and more of these tires at car shows and Cobra meets.

With a bit more aggressive tread than the BF Goodrich, the Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/T could be the right rubber for your weekend driver.

Mickey Thompson Sportsman S/T tires can be found here from Summit Racing, or here from JEGS.

2. Goodyear Billboards

Type: Non-DOT Track Tire

Use: Track Car/Occasional Driver

Sizes: 15 inch

Price: Expensive

Few tires have enjoyed a more iconic role than that of Goodyear’s “Billboard” tires, more formally known as Vintage Cobra Blue Streak Specials today. Cutting edge technology on track cars back in the day, these bias-ply, tube-type tire are obsolete today compared to modern track offerings, but still offer a surprising amount of grip.

The visual appeal of this tire is second to none, with just the right sidewall profile and telltale Goodyear script, but there are several tradeoffs to keep in mind when using this tire. As mentioned, these are tube-type, non-DOT tires, meaning they’re technically not legal or fit for road use. They’re also pricey and available in limited quantities and sizes. Like other soft-compound tires, they also tend to flat spot and toss up rocks as well.

Practicality aside, we’d all have Billboards if we could, and there’s a reason people stencil “Goodyear Eagle” on other tires.

Buy Goodyear Billboards from our friends at Vintage Wheels here and also here.

1. Avon CR6ZZ

Type: DOT Competition Tire

Use: Weekend Warrior/Track Car

Sizes: 10, 13, 14 and 15 inch

Price: Expensive

How could we rank a tire higher than the iconic Billboards? Well, it’s really a combination of things coming down to radial construction, superior grip and DOT approval that boost the Avon to the top in our book. But if you need more convincing, read a few reviews here from owners on Club Cobra who have made the switch from the bias-ply Billboards to Avon radials and experienced drastically improved performance.

Avon doesn’t divulge many details about the CR6ZZ’s construction on their website, but it’s safe to say the DOT-approved racing tire is made from an ultra-sticky rubber compound with a carcass that provides progressive and predictable handling characteristics. Visually the CR6ZZ isn't quite as correct as the Goodyear, but the simple tread pattern and plain sidewall isn't likely to raise any eyebrows. Also, don't be surprised if these grippy tires to toss rock up against inner fenders, sorta comes with the territory. Additionally, you're not going to get the same lifespan out of these tires as some other options on our list.

In the world of vintage racing, the Avon CR6ZZ is often the mark which other tires are judged against. Find Avon Cr6ZZ tires stateside from here Roger Kraus Racing in Castro Valley, California.

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Cobra Tires