Project Budget 400WHP S197 Mustang Track Car: Part 9 – Apex Wheels and Nitto Tires

Choosing wheels and tires are some of the most important decisions you can make for a car.  For this project’s theme of using the best bang-for-your-buck components possible, there really was only one decision to go with: Apex EC-7 wheels wrapped in Nitto NT01 tires.

Project “Budget 400whp Track Car” has been focused on finding the least expensive way to build a very fast, capable, balanced, and fun to drive car with over 400whp; power that is far greater than what is typically found in popular track day platforms. We have forgone unnecessary modifications, focused only on key upgrades, and found the least expensive quality products that will be reliable on a track car.

Apex EC-7 and Nitto NT01When it came down to choosing wheels and tires for this car, we decided on the quintessential track-day setup used by HPDE drivers for well over a decade: the Apex EC-7 wheel and Nitto NT01 tire.  There are tons of wheel and tire options out there today, but striking the balance between quality, reliability and performance while being inexpensive is not very common but this setup has a proven track record of accomplishing it.

The old adage of: “High Performance, High Quality, and Cheap – pick two”  is typically true, but not always.

We will discuss the wheel and tire sizing, and the reasoning behind it later in the article.

Achilles Motorsport E36 M3 25 Hours of Thunderhill winnerI have personally had a lot of success with Apex wheels and NT01 tires for a long time now.  Most notably on the E36 M3 that I finished 2nd overall and won the E0 class in the 25 Hours of Thunderhill back in 2008.  This race pushes everything to their limits and inferior products would just not hold up to the abuse of this grueling race.

The Apex wheels never failed on us from big “offs” and driver-induced damage, and the NT01’s lap time consistency from new to cords was key in our on-track performance.  The left-rear tire lasted over 5-hours which gave us an advantage due to the rules only allowing 1 tire to be changed per stop.  Plus, the NT01 was a fantastic rain tire for us in everything but deep standing water.

Project Budget 400whp Mustang stock S550 wheels and tiresProject Budget 400whp Track Car has been rolling on factory staggered 19” wheels and 255mm front, 275mm rear Michelin PS4S tires from the S550 (2015+) Performance Package Mustang.  This has been a great setup for the street, but we were ready to upgrade our car for a far more track-focused setup.

Palm Beach MotorsportsWe stopped by the newly opened Palm Beach Motorsports in Boynton Beach, FL. to mount and install our new tires.  Palm Beach Motorsport was created this year by Ken from Palm Beach Dyno to focus on wheel and tire installs, alignments, fuel injector service and custom AN lines.  You will typically see a few GT500s here getting their fuel systems upgraded or tires mounted on various drag and road race cars.

Project Budget 400whp Track Car at Palm Beach MotorsportsUp on the lift, we were ready to remove the 19” wheels and tires.

Quick Reference:

Page 1 – Intro & Palm Beach Motorsports
Page 2 – Apex EC-7 Tech
Page 3 – EC-7 Weight & Nitto NT01 Tech
Page 4 – NT01 Weight & Mounting
Page 5 – Mounted NT01 and EC-7 Weight and Comparison
Page 6 – Wheel Weight Comparison and Install
Page 7 – Wheel Spacer Tech and Clearances
Page 8 – Rear Wheel Clearance
Page 9 – Installed Pics

9 comments

  1. Hey Billy, great update. Those wheels look great in bronze against your silver car.
    I noticed you saved 5lbs per front tire. Did you get a weight on the old rear setup?
    Looks like 275/40-19 PS4S are 31lbs new (per Tire Rack) vs 28lbs for the 255s.
    The internets say the 19×9.5 PP rear wheels are ~34lbs, so I’d expect about 10lbs saved per rear. Huge!

    1. Unfortunately I lost the pic of the weight of the original rear wheels. I want to say they were a couple pounds heavier than the fronts.

  2. Thanks for the great article again, Billy. I really, really enjoy this series and I can’t wait for the next one! I would love to buy one of these Mustangs and replicate your build, but the market is too crazy for me right now.

  3. What do the 305s up front do to steering response? Does it tramline like crazy? Does the steering get vague? I’d also love to know the front/rear/cross weight balance as well. Sorry for all the questions.

    1. Steering response is pretty similar to stock, but increasing the front width of any tire will increase tramlining. The nose weight should be around 54-55% at the moment. I have not weighed it yet but that will be discussed during the battery relocation kit article.

  4. Hey Billy love this articles. I just received my set of Apex SM-10 19×11 ET26 Front ET52 rears for my 2017 GT track day car. And I can’t wait to put tires on in Europe getting good 305/30 tires is hard so I might get 295/30 instead I hope it will be a step up from my current 275/35/19 on PP1 wheels. Thank you for the lovely read.

  5. Great series Billy! What modifications have you done to address the MT82 Shifting issues? I’ve heard of a ton of solutions from trans mount inserts to Tremec swaps.

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