Mickey Thompson recently began offering wheels and tires for the late model street crowd through their Enhanced Stance System (ESS) program. Aimed squarely at the late model musclecar market, ESS products include the Mickey Thompson Street Comp Tires, which we’ve recently installed on our Project Wild E Coyote, as well as their new Street Comp SC-5 wheels. “These upgraded products are engineered specifically for the optimum vehicle stance while creating the look and feel of a fully customized street performer,” says Carl Robinson, Wheel Product Manager for Mickey Thompson.

Time to Upgrade

Our ’98 GT didn’t look bad, but the Bullitt-style wheels had grown a bit dated and definitely less exclusive in our eyes.

Our project ’98 Mustang GT has been wearing a set of aftermarket “Bullitt” wheels and tires in 17-inch staggered fitment for about eight years. While we like this look, it has grown a bit dated. When we installed these wheels they were the latest rage, and no one in our hometown had them. Today, it seems every other SN95 or New Edge Mustang that goes by is rocking them.

For our particular car we ordered a staggered set of M/T Street Comp SC-5 wheels, part number 90000001864, 18×9 for the front with 6.25 inches of backspacing, and part number 90000001863, 18×10.5 with 6.5 inches of backspacing for the rear.

In the tire department we went with a tire that will match the width of the rim, and that we know will fir our car with its particular setup. We’re using M/T’s Street Comp Tires, part number 90000001606, 275/35/18 for the front, and part number 90000001620 275/40/18 for the rear.

It’s important to note that our ’98 GT is modified and runs a 4.30 rear end gear, these tires are a nearly one-inch taller than the original equipment, but due to the low gearing, we notice no difference in the way the car runs and our previous tires were actually slightly taller than these. For SN95 and New Edge cars looking for a stock style tire height, M/T recommends 245/40/18 front tires and 275/35/18 rear tires.

SC-5 Wheels

The M/T SC-5 wheels are one of the hottest new designs that we’ve seen in a while. From the moment we first laid eyes on them they screamed to us that they belonged on a late model Mustang.

According to Robinson the SC-5 wheels were developed as a natural progression of the Street Comp program. “With the advent of the new Street Comp tire lineup, it was considered a great opportunity to present the whole package. The goal was to present the optimum wheel and tire combination for each of the target vehicles,” says Robinson. Those targets being late model Mustangs, Camaros, and Challengers.

Targeted squarely at the late model musclecar market, the SC-5 wheel and Street Comp tire compose M/T’s Enhanced Stance System line of products.

The wheels are manufactured from low pressure cast A356-T6 aluminum alloy. This means that they are both lightweight as far as cast wheels go, and extremely strong.

With the advent of the new Street Comp tire lineup, it was considered a great opportunity to present the whole package. The goal was to present the optimum wheel and tire combination for each of the target vehicles. -Carl Robinson

The spokes are powdercoated black, and the lip is diamond-cut giving it a mirror finish. This provides a nice contrast and breaks up the black between the wheel and the tire. The finish comes with a one year warranty, and M/T offers a limited lifetime structural warranty on the wheel. Included with all SC-5 wheels are also a set of M/T Street Comp center caps, which match the wheel and are unique to this product line. They also include metal valve stems with appropriate gaskets.

For the last several years most late model performance and muscle cars have been equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems. The SC-5 wheels are fully compatible with those systems, meaning you install the pressure sensors on these wheels allowing you to retain that feature of the car. New TPMS sensors are recommended whenever you change tires, let alone wheels, the decision to replace them or reuse the old ones is entirely up to the customer.

Top: The M/T Street Comp tires are right at home mounted on their ESS counterpart SC-5 wheels. Bottom Left: The SC-5 wheels each have one spoke with the M/T logo engraved in them. Bottom Right: Exclusive M/T logo center caps, valve stems, and logo valve caps are included with all SC-5 wheels.

Other features we found impressive on the SC-5 wheels included the fact that this is a hub centered wheel. This made mounting easy, and did not require shank style lug nuts. The lug holes are also wide enough for typical sockets, meaning that owners won’t need a special set of keyed wheel nuts or a special thin-walled socket to install them.

Street Comp UHP Tires

We’ve discussed at length the Street Comp UHP tire from Mickey Thompson. With a 300 AA A UTQG rating, it is one of the highest rated tires in it’s class in terms of treadwear, and dry or wet performance.

The Street Comp tire is the result of two years of extensive research and development by M/T for a market where many customers are already familiar with their ET Drag and ET Street products. According to Don Sneddon, months were spent selecting the proper rubber compound and developing the tread design. “The Street Comp was developed specifically for the modern American muscle car with performance being the number one goal,” says Mickey Thompson’s Don Sneddon.

The Mickey Thompson Street Comp UHP tires provide excellent wet and dry grip, and with a 300 treadwear rating should provide our car with years of service.

The tires have an asymmetric tread design with large shoulders to improve cornering ability. Hydroplaning is kept at bay by the large circumferential grooves that circle the center of the tire. According to Sneddon the Street Comp tire actually beat leading competitors in lap time tests during the development process.

Mounting

Low-profile tires are notoriously stiff, no matter who makes them. We’ve personally struggled mounting all manner of low-profile tire brands, and watched others do the same. Our tire guys cringed a little when they saw us dropping off our new tires, they were in for a pleasant surprise though. The Street Comp tires went onto the SC-5 wheels without a hitch. There were no surprises, no breaking out larger pry-bars and special tools or apparatus for the tire machine. They even complimented the wheels and tires when they were finished, stating they were some of the easiest to mount low-profile tires they’d ever worked with.

Balancing

Paint Your Weights

Most stick on style wheel weights are gray or silver. While sometimes you get lucky and they can be hidden behind a spoke, other times you’re not so lucky and the weight is out in the open. We stopped by the parts store and picked up a bottle of black touch up paint, then used it to carefully paint each of our wheel weights black, This hides the weights to most passersby and doesn’t cause the weights to detract from the wheel aesthetically.

We’ve balanced a lot of wheels, and your editor has first hand experience selling thousands of tires in his lifetime. We specified stick on weights and a dynamic balance. One weight is placed as close to the outside edge of the wheel hoop as possible but still behind the spokes, and the other as close to the inside edge as possible. None of the mounted wheels and tires required more than 1.00 ounces of total weight to get them balanced. This was further evidence to us that not only were the wheels and tires well suited to one another, but that their construction was indeed high quality.

Driving impressions

With the wheels installed, a quick visual check on the lift revealed no potential rubbing. We anxiously took the car out for a test drive and were happily rewarded. We had no rubbing, not even through a hard corner or over bumps. We’d previously had an issue with our other rear tires rubbing during hard cornering. On the interstate we still can’t believe how quiet these tires are for a ultra high performance tire, the noise level is next to nothing from them. We also noticed that in spite of their stiff side walls that they gave us no harshness issues over bumps and seams in the pavement, another pleasant surprise.

The SC-5 wheels provide an excellent contrast to the Bright Atlantic Blue paint of our car.

The Street Comp was developed specifically for the modern American muscle car with performance being the number one goal. -Don Sneddon

Get these tires going in the corners and you can really get aggressive. We’re able to push our TeamZ Motorsports and QA1 front suspension much closer to it’s limits in turns. We’ve taken several people for “demo rides” and all have been impressed with how well the tire sticks.

We’ve yet to find the limit, and quite frankly with the speeds we’ve achieved through some of the corners we’ve tested on, we’re afraid to push to that limit at this point. Like any tire the rears are going to let go when you eventually overpower them, this is not a slick, but they provide excellent cornering grip while still allowing us to do some right foot steering when the urge arises.

 

Left: The Before with the Bullitt Wheels, again not bad at all. Right: After installing our M/T ESS wheels and tires you can see how much better the wheel wells are filled and in our opinion the stance of the car is definitely improved.

Visually

Visually the SC-5 wheels look fantastic. The black finish and polished lip is a great contrast to our car’s Bright Atlantic Blue paint job. We also love the way the backspacing pushes the wheel and tire right to the edge of the fender. Our fenders look stuffed full of wheel and tire now, giving the car a much more aggressive appearance.

We have yet to find the cornering limits of the grip provided by our tires, corner entry and exit speeds are down-right fast with these tires, and we’re not sure we want to risk finding that limit.

It’s seldom that you can buy a wheel and tire package that was engineered to work together. It’s even more rare that these components work so well. Mickey Thompson is on the right track with these Enhanced Stance System products, and we look forward to years of great service, and incredible fun out of our new Street Comp tires and SC-5 wheels.