With so much going on in the classic-Ford world, it's hard not to get excited about all of the new offerings. The '06 SEMA show featured an entire hall devoted to just wheels and tires, with every combination imaginable. The collection of wheels ranged from timeless classics offered in an array of new sizes to the most modern, innovative styles.
When outfitting a project with new rolling stock, the current trend is to go bigger and better. We've even seen wheels up to 17 inches and larger on classic Ford cars. While it may look cool, this trend to go extra large must be carefully balanced with the requirements of a car that's driven on the street. The '65-'66 Mustangs, Falcons, and Comets cannot accommodate the same size tire as a '67 or '69 model, which had larger wheelhousings.
That's not to say that a classic Ford can't look sharp with a nice set of 15- or 16-inch wheels-many of the ones featured here are available in these rim sizes as well. Check out the manufacturer's Web sites or catalogs, and just imagine that sharp-looking wheel staring back at you bolted up to your ride. Nothing sets off a car like a sweet set of wheels, so choose wisely and enhance your ride now.
American Classic Revisited
When it comes to wheels, American Racing [(310) 635-7806; www.americanracing.com] is a name we've been familiar with for a long time. Makers of the original Torq Thrust wheel, the company now introduces the new Torq Thrust M, which features a solid, one-piece cast design and is available in three popular finishes: anthracite, black, and chrome. Wheels with a 5x4.5 (5x114.3mm) bolt circle come with a special-edition Shelby Cobra center cap officially licensed by Carroll Shelby. This new offering is available in sizes 17x8, 17x9, 17x10.5, and 20x8.5. The 17x8-inch wheel is PN 105M7861A, B, or C, and we found the painted version for $191.50. The chrome edition costs $242.25.
CoupeR In Your Future
Autoworks International [(619) 401-6900; www.autoworksracing.com] now offers the CoupeR wheel for '67-'70 Mustangs. These are the same great-looking rims featured on the Obsidian SG1 Mustang fastback seen at the '06 SEMA show. Available in black, gunmetal, or polished finishes, the CoupeR is sized at 17x8, 17x10, 18x8, 18x9, 18x10, 20x8.5 and 20x10. The 17-inch CoupeR wheel lists for $349.99 each, while the 20-inch costs $399.99.
Billet Big Block Wheel
Bonspeed Wheels [(888) 999-7258; www.bonspeed.com] offers its new, great-looking Big Block billet-aluminum wheel. Available in both powdercoated and polished versions, the Big Block features a billet center cap and a hidden valve stem and is offered in sizes ranging from 17 to 24 inches in diameter. For the 17x8 size, expect to pay $507.99.
Star Of The Show
The new Street Smart line of wheels from Billet Specialties [(800) 245-5382; www.billetspecialties.com] is designed to deliver big style and quality at an affordable price. This beautiful Street Star wheel features two-piece welded construction, forged billet-aluminum centers, and caps with spun-aluminum outer rims. Street Smart wheels in sizes 15x6 through 17x8 are in stock and ready to ship. Special-order sizes begin at 15 inches and go to 20 with varying backspacing. Choose the size that best fits your car because sizes 16x8 and 17x8 both list out at $420 per wheel.
Many manufacturers offer more than one style of wheel center or spinner, allowing you to give your wheels a whole different look just by adding a different center cap-choosing whether to expose or block the lug nuts, have a flat-nose or bullet-nose center cap, and so on.
Junk Yard Dog
The Junk Yard Dog Wheel from Boyd Coddington Wheels [(888) 254-3400, www.billetwheel.com] is one of the Coddington Classic Collection. Junk Yard Dog wheels are created using polished, cast centers mated to rolled-lip outers. This modern yet classic five-spoke wheel looks good on both musclecars and hot rods, and is available in sizes ranging from 15x6 all the way up to 20x10. A JYD wheel in the 17x8 size has a retail price of $398.64.
Tall Ten Spoke
California Pony Cars' [(909) 923-2357; www.calponycars.com] famous Shelby Ten Spoke wheel comes in both 14x6 and 17x8 sizes. The Ten Spoke rim was originally offered as an option on '66 Shelby Mustangs. These Ten Spoke wheels feature aluminum construction and have face-cut spokes that highlight the intricate casting. The new 17-inch wheels benefit from modern technology while maintaining a close likeness to the original Shelby wheel. The 17x8 Ten Spoke is manufactured to be a direct bolt-on for '65-'73 Mustangs. The wheels in natural grey list for $1,295 a set, while the black are $1,395 per set. California Pony Cars also have 17- and 20-inch versions of the famous Ford Styled Steel wheel.
The beautiful Centerline [(800) 345-8671; www.center linewheels.com] Champ 506 is a recent offering, manufactured to the highest tolerances using T6061 aluminum and completed to a high polish mirror finish. The two-piece wheel is rotary forged for awesome strength, rated for a 1,625-pound load capacity. The wheel is available in 17x7, 17x8, 17x9.5, 18x8, and 18x9.5 sizes. We found the 17-inch-diameter Champ 506 wheel for $429.95.
The Charcoal Grey Special Edition Mustang GT wheel from Ford Racing Performance Parts [(800) 367-3788; www.fordracingparts.com] is one of the best-looking wheels ever offered by the factory, and now it's a simple matter to install these late-model Mustang rims on your early car. Offered in black, silver, gray, and chrome, the gray is PN M-1007-J178 and is a smoking deal at just $145 per wheel.
This adapter kit is available at National Parts Depot [California, (800) 235-3445; Michigan, (800) 521-6104; N. Carolina, (800) 368-6451; Florida, (800) 874-7595; www.nationalpartsdepot.com]. It allows quick and safe installation of the late-model Mustang GT wheel.
A classic wheel that helped launch the aftermarket-wheel industry is still going strong at Cragar [(480) 596-5483, www.cragar.com]. The Series 61 Cragar SS is a composite wheel with a chrome finish. A composite wheel is a mix of an aluminum center and a steel rim. The combination offers a great value and timeless styling. The SS wheel starts with a 13x5.5 size and goes up to 17x9. We found the 17x9 Cragar SS wheel for $249.69.
If you're looking for "big and littles" for your next classic Ford racer, it's hard to beat the new HR-2 wheels from Mickey Thompson [(330) 928-9092; www.mickeythompsontires.com]. The one-piece, rotary-forged aluminum wheels are CNC-machined and offer distinctive styling and a highly polished, mirror-like finish. Available in two styles, the modern HR-1 and the retro-style HR-2, we found the HR-2 front skinnies, sized 15x4, for $639 each, while the 18x15.5 rear wheel costs $1,231.95. These are the perfect wheels to complement the M/T Sportsman S/R radial.
The Eagle Has Landed
Eagle Wheels [(888) 449-4335; www.eaglewheels.com] is a leading distributor of American Eagle Wheels and has been in the wheel business for nine years. The company offers great selection and service. A great choice for your classic Ford vehicle would be this Series 211 Polished Five-Spoke wheel. It's competitively priced and is available in sizes ranging from 15x6 to 20x9.5.
Sprint For The Finish Line
The Halibrand [(620) 326-2111; www.halibrand.com] Sprint wheel has been a winner for more than 50 years. Few wheels better define the definition of classic than this one. It was made famous on Sprint cars from the '50s and '60s, and its understated design is one of the most copied in the industry. The Halibrand Sprint is available in sizes ranging from 14x6 to 16x11 in a wide variety of backspacing. A set of four 15x8 Sprint wheels costs $1,854.
New From Newstalgia
Newstalgia's [(800) 281-2819; www.newstalgia wheel.com] Custom Built American Racing Torq Thrust II wheels are available in 18 custom sizes and offsets and in diameters ranging from 15 to 20 inches. A fully polished Custom Built Torq Thrust wheel in a 17x8 size costs $272. Newstalgia offers a huge selection of wheels suitable for your classic Ford.
A great way to make your new wheels fit your project theme is to paint part of the wheel the body color. Some people paint the actual wheel spokes, while others add paint to the lettering in the center cap or even paint the lug nuts. Go wild and personalize it.
Going Old School
Oasis [(714) 635-0038; www.oasiswheels.com] Old School Wheels offer excellent quality and styling. This good-looking example is called the Rebel. It is available in either a polished or chrome finish, in sizes 17x7, 17x8, and 17x9.5. The 17x8 Rebel wheel costs $333.35 in the polished version, while the chrome wheel is $432.55.
Specialty Wheels [(503) 491-8848; www.specialty wheelsltd.org] now offers a new 17x8-inch version of the famous Magnum 500 wheel. Also available is the original 14x6-size wheel. No matter what kind of Ford you own, Specialty Wheels has the center caps you want as well as the correct lug nuts and trim rings.
The Radir [(866) 334-3470; www.radirwheels.com] Tri Rib III wheel features a one-piece design and heat-treated T6 aluminum construction. It also has extra webbing around the lug-nut holes for additional strength. The wheel is available with a satin center and polished lip, as a fully polished wheel, or chrome-plated by special order. Choose an optional bullet-cone center or from three different spinners. Radir wheels exceed all SFI 5.1A standards. Tri Rib III sizes range from 14x6 to 15x10, with the 15x8 size costing $289.
Styled Steel Deal
Scott Drake [(702) 853-2060; www.scottdrake.net] is the world's largest manufacturer of reproduction parts for classic Mustangs. The company's products are available through most Mustang-parts retailers, distributors, and restoration shops. Scott Drake has two entries in the Styled Steel wheel market-the original 14-inch size as well as a 15-inch version. We found a set of the 15x7 wheels for $625 per set..
The Vintage 40 wheel from Vintage Wheel Works [(951) 296-0110; www.vintagewheel works.com] is a cast-aluminum wheel with straight spokes. The center spokes are media-blasted, and the outer barrel is machined or polished aluminum. This wheel is made from virgin 356-aluminum ingots and heat treated to a T6 factor. The size range for the V-40 wheel is 15x4 to 17x11; the center cap and lug nuts are included. The price for a 17x7 size is $279.95.
Team III Wheels' [(510) 895-8880; www.team3wheels.com] AC III is one of the best-looking bolt-on wheels made for Cobra replicas. The AC III comes standard with a polished-aluminum rim and light, matte-finished aluminum centersection. The two-piece construction allows the offset to be varied in manufacturing by moving the center forward or backward before final welding. This allows you to order wheels that will position your tires perfectly in the fenderwells. The finished wheel is lightweight and comes complete with lugs and valve stems, ready for tire installation. An authentic-looking three-ear knock-off center is available in polished or matte finish at extra cost. Wheels are available in most five-lug bolt patterns. A fully polished 17x8 AC III wheel costs $530.
Weld Racing [(800) 488-9353; www.weldwheels.com] recently introduced its new Rod and Custom line of forged-aluminum wheels. The Legend wheel shown here is just one in a series of 12 designs ranging in size from 15x4.5 to 20x16. Forged from aerospace alloys, the quality wheels polish to a brilliant shine and resist tarnish. Wheels narrower than 6 inches are one-piece hot forgings from 6061 primary aerospace aluminum. Wheels 6 inches and wider are two-piece forgings that are light, strong, and 100-percent CNC-machined. The excellent quality shows in both appearance and durability.
One of the most popular billet-aluminum wheels offered by Wheel Vintiques [(559) 251-6957; www.wheelvintiques.com] is the 88 Series Billet Lakester. This wheel is now available in a wider-than-ever variety of diameters and widths. With its polished-aluminum rim, "kidney bean'' slots, and reinforcing ribs, the Billet Lakester combines classic good looks, rugged construction, and popular sizing. With sizes ranging from 15 to 20 inches in diameter, this wheel is offered in a wide variety of rear-spacing options. The 16x8 Billet Lakester has an MSRP of $604.66.