For those replying, thank you for your thoughts.
The overwhelming conclusion seems to be 15"x7 which gets me into the 68 steel wheels I really like.
A couple of points to cover:
1. If I gave the impression I was preserving history, my apologies, possibly I should have said "tasteful upgrades" which to some include 17", but I am not going retro-mod.
I have the car to drive it, not preserve history. I want to keep my car as original as possible but will make changes to ensure it is safe as possible so I can continue to enjoy it.
That means assessing what works where I drive in Dallas Fort Worth area.
I have been driving the current rubber bands and they are not really up to our highways.
Yes a lot of people drove on narrow tires for a long time, also without seat belts, a lot of them died too. Our parents were just not that concerned about safety and did not have to deal with the 80mph over the mess our hwy department makes. This including ruts that suck the narrow tires in and take you places you did not intend to go and few gully washers (super heavy downpours).
The point of the wider tire is more meat on the ground to handle the ruts and the modern tread to evacuate the water.
2. With, 8" is too wide... 7" is fine, I was going by the comments on the adds for cjpony suggesting that the 8" would work, but if I need to stay 7" then good, that is one decision point made.
3. Michelin's dry rotting, Yes they do, but, averaging over 12K a year, I would rather have the added traction and reliability of the Michelin compound and replace them when needed, but they are only available starting at 17". I have seen issues with many other brands (anything with a stone in its name or made in China.)
I do trust the BFG's for blowouts, but know Michelin on my newer cars outperform them. This is why I was trying to decide if the difference was worth changing the look of the car.
4. Rear brakes, I did not do that for performance. I was never able to get any drum brake setup to work right. I know some people can, but I do not know any.
In short, a man must understand his limitations and drum brakes are mine.
5. For those voting to stay with 15" for looks, yes I agree with the looks, that is why I posted this because I really do not want the 17". It just seems that no new updated tire designs exist for 15".
Who is making a really good all weather tire suitable for a 15x7 rim. ( 7" based on the advice here that 8" does not really work ).
Dan mentioned Mickie Thomson. (Thanks Dan) https://mickeythompsontires.com/stre.../sportsman-s-t
Any other votes/suggestions?