I'm almost to the point where I'm going to be buying new tires for my 86 SE. I wanted to go with the staggered look. I'm planning on putting 215/60/14's on the front and 245/60/14's on the back. Will I encounter and clearance issues with the stock suspension going that wide on the back? Is there anything else I need to worry about?
I don't remember the exact sizes I had on one of my 85's, but there was a big gap between the front and rear and the huge wheels in the rear looked very much out of place. They were like that because they were tires I had on hand at the time I needed tires. For a more natural look, I would recommend going up only 1 size in the rear, above whatever you put on the front. That's how the GT's are set up. If part of your goal is to fill the wheel wells, try 215's on the front and 225's on the rear.
If your talking about filling wheelwells widthwise, bigger number will. If your talking about filling the wheelwells gapwise (between the tire height and fender cut out), a bigger number dont necessarily do anything if the overall tire diameter is near the same. To fill that gap, you have to either increase the tire diameter (increase the sidewall height from ground to rim) usually by going to a higher ratio tire and not a low profile one...like a 70 or 78 series. Going to larger rim and using the same sidewall height tire will also increase overall diameter. Those will throw off the speedo though unless you correct it for that..., or by lowering springs. Most people that use oversize rims like 19" will use lower profile tires (35/40) and keep the same overall diameter which does NOT decrease the gap...it keeps it close to the same as it was. That is called ' Plus one sizing '.
For a very short while, I had a pair of 245/60-R14 tires on the back of my '87 SE, with the stock aluminum wheels. They fit OK, although just barely (sidewalls were very close to the struts). But what really bugged me was those tires made the rear end feel really "floaty". And the tires had a tendency to roll over in a turn. I really didn't like that, and removed them quickly.
As the other guys said above, if you want wide tires you need wide wheels.
For width, the general rule is use a rim the same width as the tire across the tread (flat part on the road). ie/ if the tread on the tire is 8" wide, you need 8" rim. That will ensure the tread will be properly on the road and the bead will be seated as designed.
I have 16 x 7 wheels front and rear, went with 205/55 front and 225/55 rear. It really looks good and isn't "Too much" for the car and it's dynamics.
My first car was a 1972 Comet(Like a Maverick) and I bought ET 14 x 6.5 wheels and 235/60 front / 245/60 rear- I could put a foot on the rear wheel and push laterally and move the car a half inch back and forth sideways; I found some Aplliance cross-lace 14 x 8 wheels(Beautiful rims!) and all the wiggle went away- Turn the steering wheel and have instant response- a wider wheel is better...actually, approx' the specific wheel width....A "Guy" down the street has a 350Z with 245/35s on 10" wide rims- the wheel actually sticks out past the tire a half inch...He also has them canted in, and has made his V6 sound like a 2L 4.....He's "Super cool".....especially with the flat-bill turned backwards!