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Extreme performance tires are an experience, but they will be used up in 10-20k miles, depending on where they are mounted, and they cannot be driven below 40F or exposed below 20F because of the brittleness of the material. I have Dunlop ZII, and I can attest that they have saved the lifes of several dumb critters that ran in front of me. In the fall, I take them inside and mount Kumho PA31 to keep my car off the ground for the winter.
 

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The Spyder is pretty gentle on tires too. My Michelin Primacy MXM4 grand touring all seasons are down to 5/32" all around on my Lexus CT200h. It has 18,300 miles on it. Kinda disappointed. My BFGoodrich G Force Sport Comp 2 summers on the MR2 have about the same amount of miles and are reaching the end of their life.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I put new Nokian entyre’s on the front to match the rear, and the vibration in the steering wheel was mostly eliminated. But, the car stIll howled like a banshee at anything above 20 mph. So I bit the bullet and replaced the l/f wheel bearing. It drives really well now, and I’m not afraid to take it anywhere at any speed. The Nokians are definitely not as grippy as good summer tires, but I have to try pretty hard to get the back to start to break loose and the front has never let go. For me, on a stock 1zz SMT Spyder with 120k miles, doing normal street driving, I think they’re great. If I had a modded or 2zz swapped car, however, I’d definitely want more grip.

But, now that I can see what the car is really like, I’m starting to think that I want more power. Nothing insane, but maybe 180-200 WHP would really be nice. What are the best bang-for-the buck ways to get there? I know a 2zz swap is a possibility, or maybe a turbo or supercharger kit for my existing 1zz. But are there some other options that I should consider?
 

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Just curious as to what size Nokian entyre you purchased. I looked on their web page and did not see anything close yo our oem sizes.
 

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Nothing insane, but maybe 180-200 WHP would really be nice. What are the best bang-for-the buck ways to get there?
Not to sound blunt, but buy a different car.

While you can get that level of HP with a 2ZZ or adding a turbo, the cost will be in the thousands, with probably reduced reliability. You will also probably need to replace the SMT with a manual or convert to manual as the stock ECM won't work with any significant modifications.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
Hmm, I was under the impression that inexpensive, reliable 2zz swaps were commonplace and all the conversion issues were resolved long ago.

And I already have another car, a 91 MR2 turbo that I modded with an ATS racing CT27 turbo and Greddy boost controller. I haven’t put it on a dyno yet, but I’m sure I’m getting over 200 WHP. But it’s bigger and heavier than a Spyder, and not as much fun in the corners. I want a small, lightweight, inexpensive, mid-engined sports car, which pretty much means a Spyder.
And I think it’ll be easier to add power to my Spyder than remove size and weight from my 91T.
While I know it won’t be free, if I can find a good used engine, and do the work myself, I hope I can keep the costs fairly reasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Just curious as to what size Nokian entyre you purchased. I looked on their web page and did not see anything close yo our oem sizes.
Just curious as to what size Nokian entyre you purchased. I looked on their web page and did not see anything close yo our oem sizes.
i have a 2003, so 205/50R16 back and 185/60R15 front. Front is close to stock, back 10mm narrower but higher profile, so close on speedometer.
 

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Hmm, I was under the impression that inexpensive, reliable 2zz swaps were commonplace and all the conversion issues were resolved long ago.

While I know it won’t be free, if I can find a good used engine, and do the work myself, I hope I can keep the costs fairly reasonable.
It all depends on what you call "inexpensive" and "reasonable". Most 2ZZ swaps use the Celica 6 speed transmission, or you can convert the SMT to manual. But the swap parts alone to install the 2ZZ and convert the SMT to manual will run you around $3,500 from Monkey Wrench Racing, which is one of the sources that has all of the parts . Then you need to find a good engine, most of which are now high mileage. If you heart is set on a 2ZZ, keep an eye on cars for sale. A few pop up from time to time.
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Thanks, that’s good info, and yes, that’s more expensive than I anticipated. If I do go with a 2zz swap, I’d like to go with a different transmission, since my SMT appears to already have a bad 3rd gear synchro. What about a turbo kit for the 1zz that I already have? Would I end up with something comparable in performance to a 2zz, or is the 2zz just so much better that I’d be throwing money away? Maybe I should post this to the performance forum rather than here.
 

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Why not swap the SMT by Corolla/Celica VVTL-i transmission ? You will get faster acceleration.
In fact with Celica GTS transmission, my MR-S is faster than stock Honda EP3/FN2 - Golf V GTi.
Below 106mph, a Golf V 2L170hp tuned to 220hp is behind my MR-S.
This video show you the difference in acceleration/feeling :
 

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With a 2ZZ you would probably want a higher numerical final drive, unless you have a lot of road to work with. With the OE gearing, most of the power bump from the 2ZZ may be beyond the realm of reasonable and prudent street driving.
 

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" I have a 2003, so 205/50R16 back and 185/60R15 front "

Good luck with those sizes. I have not personally tried them myself. You have taller than normal "all season" tires. I could be wrong and others here can comment, but you will definitely not get all the performance out of the Spyder that you could. And you are right, if you increase your horsepower, you will need better quality and wider tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
I have personally tried them, and this size works great. According to the tire size comparator website, stock is 215/45 16 or 23.63” diameter. Nokian 205/60 16 is 24.07”, a difference in diameter of 0.44” or 1.9%. This equates to less than 1 mph at 50 mph. This is a pretty insignificant difference, and only a little more than the difference you’d see going from new tread (11/32) to worn out (2/32). The speedometer reads exactly correct compared to speedbox iphone app at all speeds up to 80 mph, so I really doubt that it’s affecting acceleration in any discernible way.
 

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I think MRSPONZ is referencing that the tire is narrower with a taller sidewall, so less turning traction and softer sidewalls for more roll.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Oh, my mistake, I assumed that when MRSPONZ said “You have taller than normal "all season" tires, that his main concern was the overall height of the tire. The rear tires are 10 mm narrower than stock, which is a 4.7% difference, and the sidewall is 0.22” taller, but IMHO the tread compound is a much bigger factor. These tires aren’t as grippy as performance-oriented summer tires, but they provide more traction than my engine can overcome, and we mostly daily drive it around town, so I think it‘s perfectly fine for us. I bought the car as a non-running project, so I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on tires until we saw if it would even be decent to drive.
 

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So, here’s what I’ve been able to piece together and I believe to be accurate:
Treadwear rating is a relatively arbitrary number assigned by the manufacturer, supposedly in comparison to a TW100 government standard tire. It is generally inversely related to grip, but not necessarily comparable between brands. A badly designed tire can have both low grip and low tread life, and a really well-executed tire can have both good grip and relatively long tread life. The traction rating is slightly better, but it only measures a tire’s kinetic (sliding) coefficient of friction in a straight line on wet asphalt and concrete surfaces. But, at least it’s determined independently and referenced to a definite scale.

Traction
Grades Asphalt g force Concrete g force
AA Above 0.54 0.41
A Above 0.47 0.35
B Above 0.38 0.26
C Less Than 0.38 0.26

So, we‘re mostly stuck with somewhat subjective tire tests and reviews, our own experiences and advice from other like-minded drivers. A few companies (tire rack for example) have test tracks and are set up to do repeatable, instrumented testing. They often do a good job, but it’s an expensive, time-consuming task with testing done on all types of tires, not just high-performance tires, so you may have to dig to find what you want. There’s also a bewildering array of tire categories to choose from. This from tire rack‘s website for test results, I assume in descending order of grip until you get to track/competition tires:

Passenger Tires
Extreme Performance Summer
Max Performance Summer
Ultra High Performance Summer
Ultra High Performance All-Season
High Performance Summer
High Performance All-Season
Performance All-Season
Grand Touring Summer
Grand Touring All-Season
Standard Touring All-Season
Passenger All-Season
Winter / Snow
Track & Competition DOT

So, for my bone stock 03, do I want an Extreme Performance Summer tire, or would an Ultra High Performance All-Season be the best tradeoff since it’s still apparently grippier than a High Performance Summer?

This is making my head hurt, so I’m going to stop bloviating now.
Anyone who’s read this to the end should surely be cured of their insomnia by now.
Great research thanks for sharing. Tire purchasing is a really difficult selection.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
I’ve been running the Nokian entyres for a couple of weeks now, and I’m still pretty impressed with them. I did get the back end to slide out a little bit accelerating out of a fast banked corner on a country road. They seem to have about the same grip as the older Kumho Ecsta AST’s (500 TW) on my 91T, but I think the Kumhos would be somewhat better than the Nokians if they were new. But, if you’re looking for a decent tire with good tread life at a good price, these Nokians seem hard to beat. One thing I do like is that they have a tread depth scale molded into the tire to tell you how many 32nds are left. I’ll post an update after 10k miles, and report how much tread is left, and how they grip after racking up some miles.
 
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