For the average car enthusiast, a new set of custom rims is akin to a kid getting his first bicycle for Christmas. Rims are the cherry on top the sundae that is a finely tuned piece of automotive engineering. Whether you drive a sports car or an off road vehicle, a new set of car rims or truck rims can only improve the look of your automobile.
Custom rims in today’s marketplace are vast in their variety and availability; however, this was not always the case. Early car enthusiasts had few options aside from what was available through the dealership, which was minimal at best. Their solution was to either paint the rims to match the vehicle, adjust the look of the car by using a different sized wheel that what came on it, or some combination of the two.
During the 1950’s, an emerging class of car called the lowrider was often found sporting custom wheels. In most cases, they used much smaller wheels than what came on the vehicle from the factory. The feeling was the smaller the wheel, the closer the car would ride to the ground. Many of today’s lowriders still use the smaller wheels, even when they utilize hydraulics to lower the vehicle. However, there is a much larger variety from which to choose than there were back in the early days of the lowrider.
Hot rodders often use custom rims on their car conversions. These wheels tend to be wider than standard wheels in order to accommodate the wider tires needed for racing. Most classic racing wheels (for hot rods) are about 15-17 inches in diameter, by about 8-9 inches wide. This provides a maximum amount of tire rubber to the asphalt, giving a higher degree of grip.
While tricking out a car is not a new concept, the sports tuning craze that started during the 1980’s and 1990’s really impacted the world of custom rims. No longer were these custom wheels the singular domain of show cars and hotrods. Shiny chrome wheels could be found on just about any car, including the imported compacts that eventually took over the sports tuning world like Hondas and Volkswagens.
Open just about any car magazine and you’re sure to find a plethora of advertisements for companies that manufacture and sell custom rims. The popularity of sports tuning has created a market flooded with unique wheel designs, as well as plating options. This has in turn brought down the average price for these wheel sets, making them much more affordable for the average weekend garage jockey.
Wheels have also become much more high-tech, and not just in the materials used to make them. “Spinners”, or wheels that appear to continue moving even after the vehicle has stopped, are extremely popular with large SUV’s as well as with sports cars. Custom rims can be even be found that use a system of LED lights and computer processors to produce pictures and logos on the wheel while it’s moving. These wheels are generally very expensive, often running over $10,000, but for the true car enthusiast they are on the cutting edge of cool.