It's no secret that the right set of wheels can make a car's look. Though you've undoubtedly heard it before, it bears repeating: No other element of your vehicle has quite so much impact on its look as the wheel-and-tire package.
But there's more to choosing wheels and tires than just picking out the prettiest rims and the widest rubber that'll fit 'em. Performance is an even better reason to upgrade your rolling stock. Straight-line and cornering traction, transient response, and braking are all heavily influenced by your selection. If you want to maximize your Corvette's performance, you can ill afford to overlook these components.
There are countless reasons enthusiasts change the wheels on their cars. Sometimes it's for performance reasons, such as reducing weight or allowing the fitment of larger brakes. Sometimes the change is purely cosmetic, to keep one's ride from looking just like everyone else's.
For this round of mods on D6C, I installed a set of Forgeline SO3P wheels and Yokohama ADVAN Sport tires. My goals were to reduce unsprung weight, increase traction via a larger contact patch and a softer tire compound, gain clearance for a future big-brake kit, and freshen the car's appearance. I'm happy to report that all four objectives were easily achieved.
From a performance standpoint, changing to a lightweight set of wheels is a terrific investment. A car's weight directly impacts its ability to accelerate, decelerate, and turn. The lighter the car, the easier it is to get it to do these things.
Because the wheels represent rotating weight, removing one pound in this area is roughly the equivalent to removing eight pounds of static weight elsewhere in the car. When you multiply this by four (wheels), you quickly arrive at a very substantial weight savings. Less weight benefits you each time you change speed or direction.
Another oft-cited reason for changing wheels is to gain clearance for larger brakes. While the stock C6 binders are actually very good, they are a bit overmatched for prolonged high-speed use, such as at track days. Hard-core lap dogs often upgrade to larger calipers and rotors in an effort to sidestep issues with brake fade.
While you might think that simply moving to a larger wheel will get you the caliper clearance you need, such is not the case. Often, it is the back side of the wheel that interferes with the caliper. Wheels designed for use with large brakes often have their spoke profiles designed to bow out slightly closer to the rim, where they pass the caliper. Aftermarket wheels can also improve brake cooling by allowing more air to pass through.
Unlike the previous two generations, the C6 was blessed with good-looking wheels upon the platform's introduction. While C4 and C5 owners had to endure some downright homely hoops for the first few years of production, C6 owners had a lean, handsome casting right from the get-go. Does that mean they're perfect? Not by a long shot. And I'm going to show you how much better aftermarket wheels and tires can be.
As you may recall from the outset of this project nearly two years ago, D6C was completely stock when I purchased it. Stock, that is, except for a set of aftermarket chrome C6 replica wheels. While not bad looking, they were far from unique. Though one to usually buck trends, I do like the look of larger wheels and tires (within the bounds of good taste, of course). Therefore, I decided to increase both the wheel diameter and width by one inch beyond stock.
As you probably know, the C6 wears 18x8.5 front and 19x10 rear wheels. I selected a 19x9.5 / 20x11 set to give the car a slightly more aggressive presence. This allowed an increase in tire size as well. The stock rubber measures 245/40ZR18 up front and 285/35ZR19 in the rear. The extra inch of wheel width allowed me to move up to a set of stickier 275/30ZR19 / 305/25ZR20 Yokohama rubber. More on these in a bit.