Project P38: Marshal Tyres

Educated Road Magazine readers like you don’t need me to tell you how vital good tyres are. They’re the only point of contact your car has with the ground – be it asphalt, gravel, mud, sand, rock, ice or snow. You can have the best car in the world, in fine fettle, with all the right bits on, but if you have poor quality, worn, cheap or dodgy tyres, you’re wasting your time. A good tyre on the other hand will transform your car’s drive – whatever its use.

With this in mind and given the fact Project P38 V8 came from the auction yard with badly worn, barely legal, front tyres, a switch to fresh, proper rubber was a top priority.

Unfortunately for Project P38, with the 2000 Vogue model coming loaded with huge, showy 18-inch rims, requiring 255/55R18 (109 H) tyres, the choices were pretty limited. And certainly, any plans I might have had about shodding the beast with serious off-road ‘knobblies’ went straight out of the window, for now. I’m going to need to switch to 15 or 16-inch rims for that, which we might have to do at a later stage, when the going gets rough.

But, the relatively limited choice of rubber available did not mean I had to completely sacrifice off road ability for talent on tarmac. A call to expert tyre manufacturer, Marshal (part of the Kumho empire) soon revealed the perfect choice: The relatively new to the range, Marshal Road Venture APT KL51.

The Road Venture is, to quote Marshal “an all-purpose street touring tyre at home in a range of different driving conditions, including light off road duties.” Perfect! It is available in sizes from 15 to 18in (including the best-selling 235/60R18 V and 255/60R18 V fitments) and offers a brand new tread compound, aimed at improving mileage/longevity, fuel economy and all-surface traction, with decreased noise. Its wide tread pattern aims to deliver driving stability (high speed, cornering and braking) and a quiet ride in all environments and for all seasons. It’s a fabulous all-round rubber option – perfect for Project P38 V8’s needs, for now.

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In all, Marshal offers quite an extensive range of 4×4 (& SUV) tyres, with five different patterns to suit any terrain from smooth tarmac to mud, sand and rock. The line-up includes all popular fitments as well as several niche sizes, including ones to fit Project P38 V8’s 18-inch rims.

Above the Marshal Road Venture APT KL51, there’s the Road Venture AT KL78, with aggressively shaped lugs ensuring good traction on all surfaces (15-17-inch). And topping out the range is the extreme mud terrain, award-winning Marshal Road Venture MT KL71 – designed for ultimate traction and durability. This is the Marshal rubber that excels at mountain climbing and rock crawling, whilst also ensuring impressive on-road stability and braking combined with a quiet, comfortable on-road performance. These beasts are available in just 15in and 16in rim sizes – which is what we will most likely end up fitting, with some smaller wheels, when the call of the deeper, challenging green lanes beckons for Project P38 V8 (when she’s match fit for it!).

We fitted the Marshal rubber at STS Tyre Pros (Wymondham, Norfolk branch, run by Kieron), which is an All Country 4×4 approved fitting station. Now, I’ve had rally cars, track cars, project cars galore and as such, have been through a LOT of rubber in my life. As a result, I’ve been to many tyre fitting centres – but none as pleasant, fast, efficient, modern, well-equipped, neat and knowledgable as this brand (who pride themselves on top customer service), and specifically, this branch.

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The place was cleaner than most vets, the customer waiting area (transparently open to the workshop) was warm and loaded with a plasma TV, fish tank, magazines and an awesome hot drinks vending machine, to amuse while you wait. But, best of all, the chaps doing the fitting inspire confidence with their expertise and warm, open, friendly customer service; not to mention being fast enough to qualify for jobs in a World Rally service area.

Not even Project P38’s wheel nuts clogged with years of dirt, one of the tyres being full of inflation moose (now a putrid liquid) or the locking wheel nut shattering before all the wheel nuts were unlocked could phase them. The lads just knuckled down and nailed the job – freeing up the locking nuts, stripping the old rubber off, fitting, balancing and re-inflating the Marshal boots in no time, perfectly: Consummate professionals.

They even filled the fresh Marshal rubber with Nitrogen – motorsport style – creating less corrosion (because Nitrogen has no moisture, unlike air) and suffering a slower rate of pressure loss (Nitrogen molecules are larger than Oxygen): Good pub talk.

Whilst looking about the STS Tyre Pro facilities, I also happened to notice they had a state-of-art Hunter wheel alignment machine bay, which I’ve already planned to make full use of following our suspension modifications – for the perfect wheel geometry. The Tyre Pro experience is a rich, rewarding one.

STS Tyre Pros has over 40 centres across England and offers all major tyre brands, from budget to premium, with a wide range available for both cars, and 4x4s.  The staff pride themselves on offering expert advice and quality service, including laser alignment at all centres. For your nearest location and details of any special offers, visit www.tyrepros.co.uk. Highly recommended.

So are the new boots any good? Well, first impressions of the Marshal Road Venture APT KL51 were frankly remarkable. The Norfolk roads were typically wet, greasy and mud-spattered, post recent deluge rainfall and the drive home could not have been more different from the drive to the Tyre Pro Centre. Like wearing the right shoes with the ideal, fresh, perfect tread in bad weather gives you grip and confidence… so fitting new rubber to your Land Rover does the same.

On-road grip levels were instantly noticeably improved. Ride noise was noticeably decreased and, best of all, turn-in was noticeably sharper, with a reduced tendency to ‘wash out’ at the front with understeer – even at speed. And Project P38 V8 blasted through the flooded roads, undeterred, clearing water from its path with no aqua-planing.

Additionally, on the mud-covered farming back roads where I live, where the Range Rover would previously have readily spun a wheel or two up on full throttle and the traction control annoyingly kick in, now she’s as sure-footed as a mountain goat, TCS-free… making full use of the V8’s grunt, with no slipping and sliding: Deeply impressive first impressions. Bravo Marshal Tyres!

My first foray off-road with the Marshal rubber in tow was up a short green lane through farmland I know well. It’s not a real tester, but I’ve been stuck there before when it’s wet, muddy and boggy – which it was on this run. It’s rutted and narrow too, meaning careful corrections are required to stay out of the ruts and make the route passable. And the Marshal rubber coped admirably – far exceeding my off-road expectations. It seems Marshal’s definition of ‘light off-road duties’ is quite high. Great news.

Of course, quality doesn’t come super-cheap – not that the Marshals were as expensive as many other brands. With the cost coming to £121 fitted each tyre, including VAT, the new boots cost just shy of £500. But what a difference! Marshal, we salute you.

Thanks

John & Gordon @ Marshal Tyres: www.marshaltyre.co.uk

&

Kieron & David @ STS Tyre Pros, Wymondham: www.tyrepros.co.uk

Tel: 01953-603102