On that big, bathroom wall called the Internet, everyone is important. A star. A person of great importance. Your opinion matters—so much so, in fact, that your opinion matters and no one else’s does.
That’s what it seems to have come down to. The world has gotten a lot smaller thanks to the web, and it’s gotten a lot more hostile. I’m not talking about whether you believe in gun control or not, or whether Obama’s a socialist or illegal alien. I look at posts on Facebook, forums, even emails to me as the editor of this magazine. There’s a lot of genuine hostility out there, and very little tolerance for the opinions of others. I know with the economy still in the toilet there are a lot of angry people out there, but I’m always amazed at the level of rage.
As editor of Super Chevy, I am not only ultimately responsible for the content of this august periodical, but its website and Facebook page, too. Usually, it is I who puts up the Facebook Super Chevy Question of the Day. The entire staff posts photos on Facebook and Instagram from the events we attend. It’s a lot of fun because it allows us to show those who can’t attend what they’re missing, as well as get some recognition for the car owners to our thousands of followers.
Sometimes we post pictures we know will be controversial (Camaro donks with 24s, anyone?), but typically we try to highlight really trick or unusual stuff. We put up a photo of an original owner ’70 Chevelle SS454 from Rockingham and it got over 1,000 “Likes” before the weekend was out. A first-gen Camaro doing a wheelie is sure to have people reacting in a positive fashion.
The vitriol starts to flow, however, when people start commenting on a vehicle’s wheels. Man, the debates that start because of this make the political arguments leading up to the last presidential election seem like a love fest. Doesn’t matter if it’s stock or modified, you’re sure to offend someone. Factory hubcaps (or a continental kit) on a Tri-Five? The owner should be put to death! Got 17-inch wheels or bigger on a vintage muscle car? Crush it with the owner inside. Better yet, just crush the owner and save the ride. To some, there’s no place for anything but stock.
Wheels are the ultimate fashion statement, the cherry on top of your automotive sundae. Go to the SEMA Show in Vegas and there’s about a half-million square feet devoted to custom rims. The reason is they make or break a hot rod or classic. In some ways, the most important decision you reach for your project is the rolling stock. I remember one company a few years back was selling wheels that had teddy bears for the center section. I guess that was the last rim in the industry’s attempt to make “something for everyone.” (No, I didn’t buy a set.) Some people freak out over moon discs and/or dog dish hubcaps. Me? I can take them or leave them, but if they turn you on, then rock on with your bad self. Some people look at Pro Street’s big-and-littles with the same derision reserved for donks. Over the last 20 years, American Racing’s Torq Thrust has exploded in popularity and size availability. I have a set on one of my own cars and absolutely love them. There was also a time in the late ’70s and early ’80s when no one looked at them twice.
Lately, the big hullaballoo seems to be over the Pro Touring look and the requisite low-profile wheels and tires. It’s love ’em or hate ’em. And the comments can be brutal. The way I see it, you might as well call someone’s spouse ugly. Wheels are a deeply personal choice. Some feel they should never be larger than 15 inches in diameter on a classic Tri-Five or muscle car. Others want their rims as wide as possible.
Ironically, I think a lot of the people who hate modern wheel styles today (and are oh-so-vocal about it) are the same folks who wore plaid bell bottoms in the ’60s or garish leisure suits in the ’70s, all in the name of fashion and looking “cool.” Make no mistake, tastes change, and today’s hot wheel designs may soon go the way of those fabulous silk shirts you wore (unbuttoned to the navel) to the disco. Or not.
I’ll leave you with these thoughts: 1. Trends come and go, but classics endure. 2. Don’t say anything about a man’s car you wouldn’t say to his face.