What's the first thing you look at on a Corvette? If you said "wheels," you're in good company. In a recent survey by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), custom wheels were found to be the automotive aftermarket's most popular upgrade. Just take a look at these facts:
Retail sales of custom wheels have increased from approximately $1.26 billion in 1991 to more than $4.5 billion in 2006. That's an increase of 257 percent. Roughly a third of all new-vehicle buyers modify their car or truck by adding custom wheels.
Are you in the market for a new set of custom rollers, but unsure where to begin? We're here to help. What follows is an extensive, if not necessarily exhaustive, list of the hottest wheels currently available for Corvette applications.
Because choosing the right wheel is a highly personal endeavor, we won't be favoring one of these manufacturers over the others. Instead, we've decided to list them all (half this month and half next month) and allow them to state their case. All that's left is for you to decide is which ones are right for your Corvette.
Brief Description: American Racing makes the famous Torq-Thrust II wheel in sizes to fit almost any Corvette. Available in 15x4 inches for drag racing through 20x9.5 inches for pro-touring and late-models, the Torq-Thrust II is one of the most recognized wheels in the USA.
Trademark Features: Five lugs, two-piece painted center, polished rim, U.S. Patent No. 2,877,160.
Quote from Company: "In the late '50s, the original five-spoke American Racing Torq-Thrust wheel was introduced. It is considered by many to be the most-famous drag and hot-rod wheel of all time. Now, more than 50 years later, American Racing continues its tradition of excellence in period-correct and custom wheels for hot rods, muscle cars, and restoration applications."
Callaway Cars Inc.
Brief Description: Callaway offers two wheel designs: the Callaway/Dymag CMA (Carbon Fiber/Magnesium/Aluminum) and the Callaway Nine Spoke Alloy (similar in appearance to the CMA, but with one-piece aluminum construction).
Trademark Features: The Callaway/Dymag CMA is the state-of-the-art in the high-performance/racing-wheel industry. A magnesium/aluminum alloy center attached to a carbon-fiber rim section provides the lightest possible weight. For example, while conventional 20x12-inch aluminum wheels weigh approximately 29 pounds, our 20x12-inch rear wheel weighs less than 20. This weight reduction pays big dividends in road-holding dynamics as well as in steering, acceleration, and braking. Advanced design and manufacturing techniques ensure that lightweight doesn't mean fragile, either. Equally at home at the racetrack or on the street, these wheels meet or exceed all highway-safety requirements, including BSAU50 (UK), JWL (Japan), and DOT (USA).
Quote from Company: "The world's lightest road wheel in popular sizes for all C6 Corvettes!"
Iforged Performance Alloys
Brief Description: A truly custom-built wheel designed to any color, offset, and backspacing a Vette owner desires.
Trademark Features: iForged manufactures one-, two-, and three-piece forged modular alloys that are custom-built to each individual's unique needs.
Quote from Company: "We offer the largest lip sizes for all Corvettes."
Complete Custom Wheel (CCW)
Brief Description: The SP500 is a monoblock forged 6061 aluminum wheel that was designed to look great and withstand a beating.
Trademark Features: Every CCW wheel meets extremely high stress/load ratings, is backed by a lifetime structural warranty, is built in two weeks or less, and comes with a 100 percent fitment guarantee. Several finishes are available. (Fully polished is our standard and most popular.) Wheels are offered in 18- and 19-inch diameters, in many widths and offsets to fit C4, C5, C6, C6 Z06, and C6 ZR1 Corvettes.
Quote from Company: "We have a great name in the Corvette industry. Anyone who already owns a set of CCWs will tell you the quality of the work is superb, and our customer support is fantastic. Called the best 'bang for the buck' by many, we fill a void in the Corvette wheel market by offering high-quality forged wheels in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the price of competitors."
Brief Description: The Cray Scorpion is a bold, staggered, five-spoke wheel designed exclusively for the Corvette. It's available in a wide variety of staggered fitments, including 17x9, 18x9, 18x10.5, 19x9, 19x10.5, 20x9, and 20x10.5 inches. The offsets come in +50mm for the 9-inch wheels and +65mm for the 10.5-inchers. Cray Scorpions are designed to fit on your C4, C5, and C6 Corvette and come in a variety of finishes, including Hyper Silver and Gloss Black. Mirror-cut lips and brilliant full chrome are also available.
Trademark Features: Cray Wheels offers one of the widest selections of staggered one-piece applications. The Cray Scorpion will accept the OE center cap, hardware, and tire-pressure sensors.
Quote from Company: "As beautiful as the Corvette may be, a set of Cray Scorpion wheels can make all the difference in helping your Corvette stand out further in the crowd."
Brief Description: D2FORGED VS1 wheels for Corvette C4, C5, and C6 models are custom crafted from 6061-T6 aerospace-grade aluminum and feature a three-piece modular construction for precision fitment. Sizings of 18-21 inches are available, with widths up to 14 inches.
Trademark Features: Custom-finish packages are available, including OEM color matching. The wheels accept OEM TPS hardware, clear large calipers, and come with an engraved-aluminum center cap. A seal of authenticity with a unique serial number is included on each wheel.
Quote from Company: "D2FORGED Wheels are crafted for Corvettes and have been real-world tested on 700hp vehicles. Durability, craftsmanship, and drop-dead gorgeous designs define the D2FORGED line."
Brief Description: Corvette America took its famous Kelsey Hayes reproduction wheels for the '76-'82 Corvette and bathed them in beautiful, high-luster chrome. They install and fit just like the originals, but with a stunning new look. These precision-cast and CNC-milled aluminum wheels have the common 5x4.75-inch bolt pattern, so they bolt up to any '68-'82 Corvette.
Trademark Features: These wheels are precision-cast reproductions of the YJ8 ('76-'78) and N90 ('79-'82) optional aluminum wheels created by Kelsey Hayes and distributed by GM. After casting, CNC milling ensures proper fit, while the chrome finish provides a great look. You can add a set of new chrome lug nuts and your choice of C3 center caps and wheel emblems. Accurate, restoration-quality aluminum wheel sets (without chrome finish) are also available in all three original styles: '76-'79, '78 Pace, and '80-'82.
Quote from Company: "Corvette America is your source for reproduction Kelsey Hayes Corvette wheels."
Brief Description: Corvettes have always been one of our specialties. Our latest and greatest wheel, the DE3P, incorporates a timeless mesh-center design that hides the majority of the bolts from the outer perimeter. The aggressive, yet subtle design of this mesh center flows harmoniously with the legendary lines of all year Corvettes, making it a universal model that will be popular for years to come.
Trademark Features: Most forged-wheel manufacturers utilize the same 6061-T6 aluminum for their forging process, but they can't apply the 15-plus years of motorsports knowledge that we have. From it, we've produced our Lightweight Hardware Kit, which consists of titanium bolts and lightweight jet nuts to reduce an additional 1 pound per wheel where it matters most-the perimeter. There aren't many manufacturers who can say they're the official wheel supplier for any professionally sanctioned racing series. We can. Not only are we supporters of racing heritage, we're track junkies ourselves.
One of the critical features of our construction process is the computer stress-analysis test. Each of our designs is analyzed and tested under a simulated load to optimize the integrity of the wheel and to ensure that rigidity and strength are uncompromised. Once the machining is complete, we apply real-world racing variables to make sure our theory and criteria (which exceed SAE regulations) were properly applied. Our method of forging utilizes a 6,000-ton hydraulic press, which allows us to heat treat our product. This results in a 40 percent stronger wheel, as compared with a cast counterpart.
Our Corvette fitments cover '54 to '10 models and range from 17x7 to 20x13 inches. Multiple finish options offer another way to stand out from the pack. We even offer a center-locking conversion.
Quote from Company: "Enhance the overall quality of your Corvette by installing our wheels. Forgeline wheels will reduce rotational mass and strengthen rigidity compared with your factory wheels, which will ultimately result in improved handling balance, braking, and restored horsepower!"
HRE Performance Wheels
Brief Description: HRE has two "hot" wheels to recommend to Z06 and ZR1 owners for 2010: the Monoblok one-piece forged P47 split five-spoke, and the three-piece C90 mesh-style. The P47 blends modern styling with motorsport engineering, optimizing strength and weight for an upgrade that improves performance and aesthetics. It's available in a staggered 19-/20-inch setup and custom manufactured to order for Z06 and ZR1 owners.
With its titanium fasteners and precision-engineered I-beam spoke design, the C90 offers track-day capability with aggressive everyday street performance. C90s can accommodate any brake package for street or racing, including the largest Brembos. Widths up to 13 inches, custom offsets, and custom-tailored fitments ensure that you can upgrade to a more aggressive tire package, while fitting your stock or modified fenders perfectly. Wide-body, tubbed, racing, and heavily modified Corvettes are our specialty.
Both the P47 and C90 wheels feature factory TPMS mounting locations and lug compatibility. HRE has a nearly unlimited offering of finish options, from brushed, polished, silver, black, and charcoal powdercoat to custom finishes including unique shades and OEM color matching.
Trademark Features: Every HRE design, is driven by performance objectives and executed with precision engineering-something HRE has become legendary for. Competition Series wheels, for example, are mass optimized for specific applications and undergo intensive FEA analysis, so each wheel provides the ultimate combination of reduced unsprung weight and rotational inertia. This endows your street or track car with quicker acceleration, improved braking, more-responsive handling, and enhanced suspension performance. This performance-focused engineering approach also pays dividends in improving the ride quality of your car, and that's what HRE is most proud of. Sure, we hand-build custom wheels with incredibly striking appearances, but delivering driving quality is what we're all about. Combine that with knockout looks, and you have a winner.
Quote from Company: "Our goal is to be the best, not the biggest in the world. All HRE engineering, manufacturing, and assembly are done in-house, so we can ensure unsurpassed quality. HRE customers know how fanatical we are and expect the finest wheel money can buy. Our mission is to deliver just that, every day."