Today’s modern muscle cars are something to behold. Even the lowly six cylinder models - once only an after thought - now musters over 300 horsepower, which is significantly more than even their V8 predecessors of only a few years ago.
If you drive your muscle car like we do, you’ve probably cycled through your fair share of tires. The high performance tire market is more crowded today than it has ever been. With internet sales challenging local retailers, there are tires available literally from companies worldwide, and finding the right tire for your muscle car, especially a daily driver, can be more confusing than ever. The wrong tires could leave you disappointed with either not enough performance, or the wrong kind for your daily commute.
Mickey Thompson has long been a a leader in tires for race applications, classic muscle car and pro street cars. If you’ve been to a dragstrip, you’ve no doubt seen M/T tires in action. They also offer an extensive line of tires for trucks and off road applications. Now M/T is making a big move in the ultra high performance handling tire market with the M/T Street Comp.
With late model muscle cars all the rage right now in the performance aftermarket, M/T decided it was time to step up and get their share of that action as well. “The modern American muscle car owner has been using our ET Drag, ET Street & ET Street Radial products for years, it was time for Mickey Thompson Tires to put its legendary performance on the streets,” said Don Sneddon of Mickey Thompson.
The M/T Street Comp
The modern American muscle var owner has been using our ET Drag, ET Street & ET Street Radial products for years, it was time the Mickey Thompson Tires put its legendary performance on the streets - Don Sneddon
With the goal in mind of creating a high performance street tire for today’s modern muscle cars that could outperform the best the market currently offered, Mickey Thompson pooled its worldwide resources and began development of the Street Comp UHP tire.
It took the company about two years to develop the tire. “We wanted the Street Comp to have all the latest bells and whistles, while paying attention to what true gear heads said they would want in a tire,” said Sneddon. A great deal of technology went into the tire, including borrowing from other already successful M/T products. M/T’s top tire engineers spent months developing the tread design, and proper rubber compound for this tire. The company conducted extensive track testing at their private test facility utilizing the modern modern muscle cars as test mules.
“The Street Comp was developed specifically for the modern American muscle car with performance being the number one goal,” said Sneddon. The tires feature an asymmetric tread design common on many UHP tires. They’re designed to perform in both wet and dry conditions, and have a uniform tire quality grading (UTQG) of 300 AA A. That puts their treadwear in the middle range for the wear rating for most UHP tires.
Fitments are available for rims from 17 to 20-inches in diameter, and seven and a half to ten inches in width. You can find a complete chart of all the sizes available on the Mickey Thompson Tires web site.
Construction and Design
While this tire draws upon M/T’s extensive experience in developing race, and high performance tires this is not a dedicated track, or DOT race tire. This is a street tire that was designed for performance street cars in daily driving situations, with a design that is intended to maximize both dry and wet traction. The Street Comp UHP also features several elements intended to maximize wear.
The asymmetric design of the tread means that on standard fitments the tires can be cross rotated, or changed side to side. This increases tread life, while reducing irregular wear patterns.
We wanted the Street Comp to have all the latest bells and whistles, while paying attention to what true gear heads said they would want in a tire. - Don Sneddon
The outside tread features large shoulders which help maximize the tire’s cornering ability. The shoulder elements are tied together in pairs to improve traction, and stiffness. The wide circumferential grooves near the center of the tire improves wet traction, and avoid hydroplaning. At the same time the wide center rib improves steering responsiveness.
All of this translates into a tire that will last longer, and handle as well as, if not better than many similar tires on the market. During their testing Mickey Thompson claims that the Street Comp UHP actually beat competitors in lap times. These tests were performed for both wet and dry conditions.
While the lap times sell enthusiasts on performance capabilities, the overall performance of the Street Comp was measured, and compared in testing. There are key real world performance figures that must be taken into consideration for both the street, and track. Components that perform amazingly at the track are often ill suited for the street. M/T was careful in their development of the Street Comp UHP to lean heavily towards the street going aspects of tire design, while maximizing the tires performance.
Testing was broken into wet and dry segments. Key variables in how the test car handled included:
Understanding Tire Ratings
UTQG is a standard developed by the US government for rating tires, to assist consumers in making a tire purchase. UTQG measures, treadwear, traction, and temperature.
Treadwear is the first number in the rating. In theory, a 300 rated tire should last twice as long as 150 rated tire.
Traction is represented by the second piece of information, in this case AA. Traction is a measurement of how well the tire can stop on a wet surface, this is tested on both asphalt and concrete.
The last grading is temperature. the tire’s ability to dissipate heat.
- Braking grip
- Driving grip
- Lateral grip
- Off throttle understeer
- Off throttle oversteer
- On throttle understeer
- On throttle oversteer
- Hydroplaning/Aquaplaning resistance.
- Steering precision
- On-center feel/feedback
- On-Center response
- Off-Center feel
- Off-Center response
- Turn In/transient response (emergency lane change maneuver)
- Recover/Yaw damping (emergency lane change maneuver)
Twisting with the Coyote
M/T sent us a set of tires for our project Wild E Coyote, 2011 5.0 Mustang. We mounted the 275/40/18’s on all for wheels, installed them on the car, and set out to see exactly what they’re all about. The first thing we noticed is how quiet this tire is. We’ve driven a lot of cars, with a lot of different tire models on Wild E Coyote. Track and high performance tires generally sacrifice comforts like ride harshness and noise for asphalt-scorching performance. That’s not the case with the Street Comp UHP - it is extremely quiet for a high performance tire. Even cruising at interstate speeds they don’t drone or whine, meaning we can still cruise comfortably on our daily commute, but not have to worry about changing tires if we want to hit the autocross, or just go for a spirited weekend drive through the back roads.
Through the corners, and tight turns these tires respond like those with half the tread life rating; they feel like a tire with a much lower treadwear rating. Due to the stiffer sidewall construction we could run 32 psi in the tires without folding them over on hard turns. Their handling characteristics make our highly modified GT a real hero in the curves.
Even in the rain we can’t fault the Street Comp UHP. Rarely do you find a tire that’s such solid combination of both wet and dry performance. Often tires in this segment are a dream on warm or hot dry tarmac, but a nightmare in the rain. This is not so with the Street Comp UHP. Scary moments are a thing of the past, and Wild E Coyote is safe from dancing with any guard rails.
The Mickey Thompson Street Comp UHP is available for sale now. If you’re looking for a replacement tire or an upgrade for your modern or even classic muscle or high performance car, these definitely deserve strong consideration, especially if that car is a daily driver.