Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Faux Asymmetric Wheels

One of the fancier options common on upmarket car models are asymmetric or “directional” wheels. These usually have some sort of angled “vane” or “turbine” spokes that ostensibly function to extract hot air from around the brake rotor. (Whether they are functionally effective in practice is an unending topic of forum flame wars lively debate.) TRUE asymmetric/directional wheels have mirror-image castings for the right and left, because the wheels on one side of the car rotate opposite the other.
This trick, however, causes some hassles. Not only is there the added cost of two castings, there is the logistical hurdle of two different part numbers in the pipeline, and extra maintenance attention when replacing a damaged rim, installing new tires, or simply rotating tires.
For all those reasons, OEM’s are sometimes tempted to take the quick-and-dirty step of simply using one interchangeable casting for all four wheels, allowing one side of the car to drive on “backwards” wheels. Some folks never notice it, and others go into an OCD rage over it. And thanks to a great suggestion by Sjalabais, that’s your Hoonatian topic for today.
The Caveats (there are always caveats):

  • Original equipment only. No aftermarket wheels, please.
  • Concept cars, prototypes, limited editions, homologation specials, and race cars are fair game as long as they were produced by a major manufacturer or a widely known automotive design house/coachbuilder.
  • Trucks, both light and heavy-duty, are allowed, as long as they are road-legal. No construction machinery, mining equipment, snowmobiles, tractors or lawn mowers.
  • Motorcycles—how would that work?
  • Airplanes and boats: Alright, sure. If you can successfully go there today, I’ll be damned impressed.

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25 responses to “Encyclopedia Hoonatica: Faux Asymmetric Wheels”

  1. Craig Blanton Avatar
    Craig Blanton

    GMT400 Chevy Suburbans and 4wd trucks. I had a set modified for my Nissan truck and it always bugged me that they weren’t true directional wheels.

    1. Tiberiuswise Avatar

      That car Taur Us a new one.

    2. Guest Avatar

      Still cool wheels, put I prefer the basketweaves on mine.

      They are harder to clean, but are supposedly lighter, with the associated performance benefits.


    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      There were Thunderbirds of that generation with directional wheels that actually were mirror-image castings, unique for each side!

      1. ptschett Avatar

        …and usually those wheels were installed on the wrong side of the car in at least pairs, if not at all 4 corners. Interpreting “” markings cast into hubs is apparently above & beyond the call of duty at most tire shops…

        1. ptschett Avatar

          Correctly-oriented wheels, for reference (my car)

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    GMC Syclone and Typhoon wheels all face the same direction. Additionally, they have different offsets front to rear, so tire rotation still requires remounting and rebalancing.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      Same deal with C4 Corvettes, except that the factory Goodyear GS-C tires were unidirectional and asymmetrical. You didn’t rotate the tires.

      1. 0A5599 Avatar

        I had a set of GS-C tires on the Syclone. They swap front to rear, but the rims stay in place.

        1. P161911 Avatar

          The Corvette used different width tires/wheels front to rear.

          1. 0A5599 Avatar

            Oh. You said it was the same deal as SyTy, which has identically sized tires at all four corners, and rims that share diameter and width, but different offset f/r.

  3. 0A5599 Avatar

    Shelby Centurion wheels point clockwise. Centurion II wheels point counterclockwise, but are otherwise identical. They were installed a whole set at a time, though.

    1. Tanshanomi Avatar

      So, in other words, if you got two Centurion wheels and two Centurion II wheels, you could build yourself a set of true directional wheels?

      1. 0A5599 Avatar


  4. Citric Avatar

    I’m pretty sure these Pontiac wheels always pointed one way but maybe I’m wrong.

  5. ptschett Avatar

    ’94 to ’01 Ram 1500’s with the 3-spoke alloy wheels. (I think these wheels were added on the ’98-ish mid-cycle refresh that added the “Quad Cab” option to the extended cab, and updated the dashboard.)

  6. Sjalabais Avatar

    Wow, you’re good at picking up suggestions. I also just spend too much time trying to find a three rotor hovercraft where the rules above would apply on either left or right side…fruitlessly.
    Quite a lot of Volvo wheels are fake directional, some of them incorporate the turbine air flow effect like the Perfo-wheels posted the other day.

  7. Ross Ballot Avatar
    Ross Ballot

    Obligatory (though much harder to find an appropriate picture than I thought it would be)

  8. Alan Cesar Avatar
    Alan Cesar

    Ford Escort GT “fanblade” wheels came in a couple varieties, including body-color-matched. They all “spin” in the same direction.

  9. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    The Ford Puma with its Submarine Propeller wheels.
    Asymmetrical, but I’ve always loved them.

  10. CraigSu Avatar

    1986 Acura Integra LS alloys. Note the directional arrow on the rim.
    I had an RS that I traded an old amplifier and the RS wheels/covers for a set of these with the local Acura parts manager. He had a spare set and could sell the RS wheels much easier than the LS. Even though they were clearly marked one of the dealer’s own mechanics managed to mount them backwards (with unidirectional Dunlops to boot!), which I discovered about 400 miles after it had been done.

  11. salguod Avatar

    Do covers count? 1958 – 1960 Thunderbird wheel covers appeared directional.

  12. Vairship Avatar

    It would be tough to be truly symmetric since there are three “wheels”: http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a70/troutylow/Gofast.jpg

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