There is no other single accessory that can so dramatically change the appearance of your vehicle as some custom wheels. Back many years ago, custom or “mag” wheels originated in just a few manufacturers like Cragar, AT and American Racing. Now you can find different types of designs to fit any look or attitude from a myriad of makers including Heart, Road, Dub, Enkel, Foose, and of course, American Racing and Cragar Classic. When talking about custom wheels for street use, ban mobil “Mag” is actually a misnomer. In the early ’60s, “Mag” was a term that racers used to refer to their lightweight, yet strong wheels made of magnesium. But due to the drawbacks of magnesium wheel care and maintenance, custom wheels made for the general public are usually made of quicker cared for chrome plated steel, finished aluminum, or painted aluminum.
Chrome or Aluminum?
Largely it’s a matter of taste, but there are a few things to consider. First, are these wheels primarily for occasional racing where weight might be an issue? Or is it for a sometimes off-road or rally application, in which particular case, durability is an issue. Or is it exclusively for street cruising or touring where looks are the main issue?
Painted Steel and Chrome plated steel wheels are heaviest of the three, but also are the most durable and forgiving of damage. Good chrome plating not only looks great, but also resists rust. Painted aluminum is lighter, and virtually maintenance-free but cannot match the sheen of chrome or finished aluminum — which for many customizers is just the style they’re going for. Finished aluminum is light, looks great, but requires just a little more persistance to protect the finale from oxidization or pitting.
Larger Tire Retail chains have installed thousands of wheel and tire mixtures on vehicles over the years and can suggest several options that will work best with your particular vehicle and the look you want to achieve. Often they can even show you pictures of previous installs.
A Word On Wheel and Tire Fitment
One of the trends in custom wheels today is to install oversize wheels, up to 22″ or more. Keep in mind that when you install rims that are tall than the tallest wheel that came standard on your vehicle, it requires careful planning. The bigger diameter casing, with with tire, should never only fit in the wheel well, but also have enough extra room for full travel of the suspension. Failure to do this properly will result in, at best, an annoying thud when hitting large bumps or, at worst, shredding and wasting out of the tire after just a few miles. The most effective way to accommodate a tall wheel is to switch to a lower profile tire so your overall height of the wheel and tire package remains the same as before. The charges for increasingly lower profile wheels is increasingly more rigid handling and harsher ride.
For performance customizers who have installed aftermarket brakes on their vehicles, separate computations have to be generated for backspace and offset, the measurements for how much space there is between the wheel centerline and the body of the car and how offset the centerline of the wheel is from the growing plate. Done correctly. This will ensure that the wheel not only has enough space to accommodate for the oversized brakes, but that the entire wheel and tire package will have enough room side-to-side in the wheel well.