Hooniverse Asks: What are the Best Fake Alloy Wheel Hubcaps?

wheel cover
I think my first exposure to fake plastic wheel covers that posed as alloys was reading a road test of the Chevy Monza 2+2 in Road & Track. They had undertaken braking tests in the car and the excessive heat generated by the repeated stopping attempts had softened the plastic wheel covers to the point that they distorted noticeably, and then fell off the car. R&T included a nice picture of one droopy donut in the article. I was astounded by this revelation as up until that part of the test, I had thought that they were actual metal alloy wheels.
A decade later I was fooled again, this time by steel wheels on a Ford Taurus that had some sort of molded rubber coating that when painted silver, approximated the look of lightweight metal with reasonable fidelity. Those did the job of looking fancy most likely at a significant cost savings over real alloy wheels, and who am I to question the Taurus’ engineers as that was one of the most thoughtfully designed cars in automotive history.
So, wheel covers, molded rubber on steel wheels, there hare a number of lengths that car makers – and even the aftermarket – have gone to in the effort to give us the alloy wheel look, without the alloy wheel expense. Or maybe they still charged us the same and pocketed the difference? Either way, it’s all good. Considering all those different fake alloy wheels, whether factory or not, which ones do you think were the best impersonators?
Image: Walmart.com


  1. http://evnut.com/images/prius/wheel_plastic/plastic_wheel02.jpg
    Because this is a very “off” question. I would say one of the better implementations is the Prius. The Touring edition had okay looking alloys behind the hubcaps.
    My own personal favorite? The 1989 Mercury Sable with hubcaps designed to help with aerodynamics.

      1. The plastic is lighter than the alloy, so there is weight savings, and then the shape of the rim/plastic is aerodynamically tuned to still cool the brakes, but give you a better cD.
        It’s all about incremental tweaks to maximize fuel efficiency in those suckers.

    1. I came here to mention the Prius. The top picture is the base second generation alloy. Only the outer trim ring is plastic. They look much better without the trim rings.
      I’ve got a 2007 Prius Touring and I prefer it with the covers.
      The third generation put a couple of bland covers over a nice looking alloy.

  2. Those with fake brake discs. No need for fake calipers!
    Saw one of these in front of work a few weeks ago, the “disk” was fake chrome to top it off.

    1. Is that a plastic wheel cover or an alloy wheel with a fake brake disk cast into it to cover drums?

      1. This was the closest I found to what I’ve seen. It appears to be a horrible alloy knock-off with the fake disk attached to it, not to the drum.
        The one I saw was a cover to a regular steelie.

        1. Ah, okay. Actually, now that I think about it, I have seen those on steelies. I think I probably tried to remove them from my memory because they were pretty hideous, if I recall.
          I’m kind of baffled that someone would buy wheels with fake discs cast into them.

    2. Worse: Fake brake disk on the OUTSIDE!
      The Lenso RTD, from the 3DTuning app/real life, supposedly

    1. Reminds me of a slightly different but related line of thought. My old man had a 280Z with Appliance wires – chromed steelies with a removable wire “basket” that gave a wire wheel look. Not entirely convincing, but much easier to live with.

  3. I’m really not sure if this is even a Hooniverse worthy question. My best answer is pop them off, dispose of them responsibly and get on the Tire Rack and order up some wheels or run the black steelies.

    1. I picked up a set of plastic fake-Bundt hubcaps to spare the metal hubcaps from winter, but ended up usually running the fake Bundts in summer and bare steelies in winter

  4. There is something deeply wrong about this question, like asking who makes the best fake blow off valve, or which car has the best fake engine noise.
    If you have steelies own it!

    1. When I was 16, mom ordered a set of fake Fuchs for my bug.
      She sent them back to JCWhitney for a set of moon disks.
      [This is not me or my car. But that is my hat.]

  5. This is actually a question I’ve been considering, for reals. My B5 A4’s OEM Ronal 5-spokes bend like aluminum foil and a good bit of my daily commute is on a really crappy road. I’ve seriously thought that I’d save myself a good bit of coin, time, hassle and ruined tires if I got some steelies and 5-spoke-ish covers that I could live with. (especially after seeing the stuff that my wife doesn’t even bother to dodge in her minivan.) Part of the problem, of course, is that I really like the look of the stock wheels.

    1. I ran steel wheels on the 5000s for autox then used played with them on the A4. The black steel wheels looked menacing on the lowered car.

  6. Actually, they all look good until the steel wheel behind them gets all rusty and crappy. Then, not so much.

  7. more of the same wheel cover, Jeepster Deluxe, 1968 Shelbys, and 1968 Ford XL’s –
    not sure if it is the best, but must be one of the first …

  8. Six months late to the party, but the 1990’s Alfa Romeo Spider’s ‘Phone Dial’ wheels and covers should be on the list. The expensive model got power windows and real 15 inch alloy wheels. The cheaper version got roll-up windows and plastic hubcaps which were identical copies of the alloys….except that the steelies and hubcaps were much lighter than the alloy wheels.
    The wheels were called phonedials, because, well, that’s what they looked like. Since the car in the picture isn’t mine, I can’t tell whether these are the caps or the wheels, and neither can anybody esle more than about three feet away.

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