Re: What is ideal SAFE 17" wheel/Tire size!?
I personally don't think you should consider a 235/40 17 on a 1st gen. It's only 24.5" tall and just won't fill the wheel well no matter what wheel you mount it on. It safely fits on a 17x8 or a 17x9.5 but as the photo above shows wheel size/tire size matters.
A 235/45 17 would be fairly safe, that's what I run up front. It's 25.5" tall, has about .2" less section width than the 235/40 and actually has about .3" more tread width.
Every car is a little different so there is no "completely safe bet" if you want your car to stand out. I can't tell you how many guys I see locally put their rally's w/225/60 15's back on after trying 17" wheels because they had some rubbing somewhere and they were not interested in figuring it out.
My 235/45 17 will scuff the frame on lock to lock turns. I choose to live with the lock to lock scuffing but could limit the steering a little to stop it. With a 2" drop I needed to add a little negative camber and replace the center most inner fender bolt with a button head hex bolt to stop the tire from contacting the head of the one inner fender bolt.
All that said the most safe up front might be a 225/45 17, it splits the difference in height between the other 2 mentioned and is a little narrower all around
As for the rear I run 255/45 17's on 9.5" w/5.5" bs and to be honest when I had rear drums the tires scuffed the inner fender/frame area as the body flexed going through driveways at an angle. I don't think a coupe would have this same issue my ragtop has with body flex. Disc brakes fixed that issue but put the outside sidewall too close to the fender lip for comfort so I used a nibbler and removed part of the fender lip where the tire was the closest. 245/45 17 tires might be a little safer bet, they are less than 1/2" shorter, .4" narrower in section width and .3" less tread width...
I would always go with a wider rear tire than front unless you plan to daily drive it... If you put 10k miles or more a year it's nice to be able to rotate the tires but if you put 2k miles a year on the car it will take you 5 years to see any tire wear which you won't if you keep a good alignment and proper tire pressure.
I would also run different width wheels front and rear, wider in the back. Again unless it's your daily driver think narrower tire on a slightly narrower wheel up front, wider tire on a slightly wider wheel out back, it just keeps the balance. If you mix 2 sizes of tire on the same wheel it will look off!
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