Ever since enthusiasts started bolting chrome reverse wheels on old jalopies and '50s hot rods, custom wheels have been mainstays on performance cars and street machines. Few modifications tell the cruise night crowd that your car is a hot rod as quickly as updated rolling stock, and no modification is more universal. Whether you drive a '69 Camaro, '65 Nova, '57 Bel Air or '00 Camaro, a set of custom wheels and performance tires are destined to make it stand out.
These days the custom tire and wheel market is larger than ever, which means enthusiasts have a lot more research to do when choosing the right rollers for their rides. With wheels, you have to consider diameter, width, backspacing, and offset, all of which will affect fit and performance. And then there's the ever-important style factor. Do you want the factory-performance look of a rally wheel, the racing influence of lightweight aluminum or the contemporary look of billet?
In a similar vein, today's performance tires come in a wider variety than ever before. While many still offer a balance of everyday comfort and handling performance, several new offerings are designed for all-out cornering control, handling performance, run-flat ability, or straight-line traction. There are also some visual considerations to think about. Do you want a tall or short sidewall? Raised white letters or black sidewalls? Rim protectors or no rim protectors?
Regardless of the look and performance you're after, it's probably available from one or more of today's tire and wheel manufacturers. To keep you abreast of some of the latest creations in this realm, we've put together a guide to some of the standout offerings in the top wheel and tire lines. Take a peek and see if you can find the combination of performance and appearance you've been looking for.
American Racing's Torq-Thrust D wheel is one of the all-time classic wheel designs, and the two-piece, fully polished Torq Thrust II has picked up where the original version left off. A variety of sizes ranging from 14- to 20-inch diameters are available between the two Torq-Thrust styles. Another American classic that has recently been revived is the 200S, also known as the "daisy" to many enthusiasts. It's available in sizes from 15- to 17-inch diameters. American Racing: 19067 S. Reyes Ave., Dept. SC, Rancho Dominguez, CA 90221; (310) 635-7806; www.americanracing.com.
Nearly every hot rodder associates the name Boyd Coddington with cutting-edge street rods, so it should come as no surprise that B. Coddington wheels are top-quality rollers. The Signature Series billet wheel line, which includes the Evolution design shown, continues the Coddington tradition of quality and style. The wheels are built using state-of-the-art CNC machines before being polished to a high-luster finish. They come in sizes ranging from 14x6 to 20x9.5 inches. B. Coddington: Anaheim, CA, Dept. SC; (888) 254-3400; www.boydcoddington.com.
When your company is named Billet Specialties, custom-whittled aluminum wheels come with the territory. The wheel designers at Billet Specialties have a knack for creating contemporary designs that don't look "trendy," as evidenced by the clean Octane and Talladega designs shown. The Octane is an exposed-lug, five-spoke design that just looks like a hot rod wheel. The Talladega is similar in theme, but more ornate with its ribbed spokes split by raised ribs. Both come highly polished and are available in 15-, 17-, 18- and 20-inch sizes with your choice of backspacing. Billet Specialties: 340 Shore Dr., Dept. SC, Burr Ridge, IL 60521; (800) 245-5382; www.billetspecialties.com.