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Do You Go with 15-inch or 18-inch Wheels? The Choice is Yours

Firing Up: Bigs or littles, the choice is yours

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There seems to be a little disagreement regarding what is considered the correct wheel and tire size when it comes to our beloved hot rods. Whenever we post a photo of a muscle car that represents a Pro Touring demeanor on our social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or Twitter), a good number of comments reflect dissatisfaction regarding the wheels being too large and the tires’ sidewalls being too thin. And a similar thing happens when we post a retro-style build; some of the comments trash the ride for being outdated and how the owner needs to keep up with the times and lose the 15-inchers for some modern-sized rollers. This is where I become torn. Oftentimes, when I see a car with 15-inch American five-spokes (or any vintage-style wheels) it takes me back to my young, impressionable days when muscle cars generally didn’t have any other options besides 15-inch slotted or five-spoke wheels wrapped by endless amounts of sidewall. At least that’s what was rolling around SoCal in the late-’70s and throughout the ’80s. Cars either had a cool rake (actually, some looked ridiculous by being jacked up too high in the rear—stinkbug style. Those guys just didn’t know better) or they were built with a gasser influence and had the nose sky high. But the common factor is that they rolled on the same style wheels—they all looked cool to me.

As time went on, wheel sizes gradually got larger and sidewalls got shorter. I remember putting 18-inch wheels on my ride about 15 years ago and all the old-school hot rodders gave me crap for ruining the looks of my car by running “pizza-cutters” on it. For the current muscle car era, 18-inch wheels wrapped in 30-35 series rubber are pretty much widely accepted as the norm. Some guys are even going with 19- and 20-inch wheels, but that’s pushing it if you ask me, especially on a vintage ride. Now, on a late-model Camaro, it’s a case-by-case situation.

So, when I come across a car that was recently built with 15-inch five-spoke wheels and “yards” of sidewall, I have to give the owner respect. Respect for going somewhat against the grain and building a car the way he or she wanted, not the way every one else is doing it. And maybe for them, it was about building a car that was influential during their formative years.

If I had the means to own two vintage rides, I’d accompany my 1971 Pro Touring Camaro with a 1966 Chevelle all done up old school with 15-inch gray five-spoke wheels all the way around with big meats hanging out back and skinnies up front. But not too skinny; I’d like the car to turn without issue.

So, when you comment on a ride that you’ve come across on one of our social media sites, just remember that someone built that car the way they wanted and take pride in it. Although it may not be built to your standards or favorite style, give the guy some respect. Comment responsibly. I’m betting you’d like to hear more positive, or even neutral comments about your project instead of someone publicly bashing your car because it’s not their favorite color or has the “wrong-sized” wheels.

All the cool Chevy-related stuff we post on our social media sites can be found at:
Facebook - facebook.com/chevyhighperformance
Instagram - chevyhighmag
Twitter - @chevyhigh
Google+ - Chevy High Performance Magazine

Stop on by to share your photos and comments, or feel free to just hang out and look around. We think you’ll like it regardless what size wheels and tires your hot rod rolls on.

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1973 Pro Touring Camaro 2/2

Like a lot of Pro Touring rides these days, Mary Pozzi’s second-gen Camaro rolls on 18-inch wheels, which look right at home between the fenders.

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