Tubeless Wire Wheels
Wire wheels were fitted to some production cars up until the early 1970's. It was only right at the end of the 1960's that low profile tyres (such as 205/70R15) were even invented. No cars before the 1970's were fitted with tyres with a profile of less than 70%. All tyres with a profile of 70% or taller can run with tubes (even if the tyres are specified as 'tubeless' on the side wall, classic car tyres (eg 165R15, 165/80R15 or 185/70R15) can still run with tubes).
- All cars up until the 1970's can fit tubes in their tyres. (as long as they are fitting the correct tyre size).
- All cars up until 1970 that fitted wire wheels had inner tubes.
- There is no need to have wire wheels that can be run without tubes.
Use good quality tyres such as Michelin or Pirelli Cinturato on your classic car fit good quality inner tubes on well-built wheels and you will not have problems.
Wire wheels need tubes
We have repeatedly come across problems with the new tubeless system on wire wheels (see the film.). The silicon can be moved which leads to air leaking round the spokes. We do not feel it is a proper engineering solution, designed to resolve a problem, that is not there in the first place, if you just fit a proper tyre. Borrani do not make tubeless wheels for classic cars, we recommend fitting good quality inner tubes with Borrani wire wheels (or any other wire wheel for that matter).
You do not want to a modern low profile tyre like a 195/65R15 on a wire wheel for a classic car; because you should not fit tubes in low profile tyres (below 70%). Also a 195/65R15 is a totally inappropriate tyre for a classic car. Tyres like these are designed to complement modern cars with more modern steering and suspension, and will spoil the handling of a pre-1970 car anyway. Fit a tyre that suits your car and you will enjoy the drive more.
Inner Tubes in Tubeless Tyres
Over the years there has been misunderstanding about weather inner tubes can be fitted into tyres that are designated as “TUBELESS”. The answer is YES as long as the tyre is full profile, (eg 185R15 or 185/80R15), 75% profile (eg 195/75R14), or 70% profile (eg 205/70R15 or ER/70R15). Because of a need to clarify this, we have been in contact with the ETRTO, their reply is below. We also contacted Pirelli to confirm their stance on fitting inner tubes in a tubeless tyre. Arguably the majority of Borrani wheels that left the factory in period were fitted with Pirelli Tyres. Although happy with the situation, to back things up in the current day, Pirelli did some modern testing of the tyres from their Collezione range at high speeds to see if they can be run up to the speeds that can be expected of cars like a Ferrari Daytona or a Lamborghini Muira which are now fitting W rated (170mph tyres) 70 profile tyres while fitted with inner tubes, on Borrani wheels. They of course passed with flying colours.
It took quite a long time for answering you as your question did not find an direct answer in standards or regulations.
Fitting tubes in tubeless tyres is not forbidden by regulation but should be done only following the indications of the tyre producer, each tyre manufacturer having its own specific recommendation lines.
You should then ask directly the tyre suppliers (Pirelli or Michelin in your case) as they can advise if the particular tubeless tyre you have in mind can be fitted with a tube in line with the fitment and use of the tyre requirements. They may also provide you a statement or a copy from a technical databook explaining the operation (although I doubt this is mention in recent editions) to help to clarify the situation with the insurance company.
Also from an MOT prospective, if a tubeless tyre was fitted with a tube at the time of MOT and this could be identified, this would probably just be recorded on the MOT documentation (providing the wheel/tyre meets all other criteria in the MOT manual, see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/mot-inspection-manual-for-private-passenger-and-light-commercial-vehicles/5-axles-wheels-tyres-and-suspension#section-5-2-3).
I’m afraid we cannot do more and I hope this will help you.
Please, keep us informed.