Hooniverse Asks- What Manufacturer has the Coolest Factory Wheels?

H3 Wooden Wheels

Nothing is perhaps more important when it comes to keeping your car or truck’s tires from just rolling away than it’s wheels. And, not only are they invaluable in that aspect, but they also remain one of the best ways to personalize your ride, as expression of your own, individual taste. But it’s not those aftermarket wheels that we’re interested in today, instead we want to know what car maker has wheels that you’d least want to let go.

Whether it was painted and pinstriped spokes, gleaming chrome-plated covers, or aggressive alloys, over the course of automotive history factory wheels have long been an important styling component. Today, only the cheapest of rides are saddled with steel wheels and flimsy plastic hubcaps. The rest are offered with not juts one, but a multitude of alloy wheel shape and color options, many in sizes that demonstrate their position as a primary messenger of the vehicle’s styling and performance intents.

But which are the best? What factory wheels – alloy or hupcapped – are the most awesomest? 

Image source: [enginemonsters]

149 Comments

    1. I'm considering a new Rubicon (or Moab) and I hated the new wheels at first, but even though I still love the TJ Rubicon wheels these are starting to grow on me.

    1. Indeed, if you had a 5×100 bolt pattern, those were the hot ticket when some misguided Mopar owner wanted to add aftermarket wheels to their ride and sold them cheap. Plus, with everyone else using 14" wheels from the factory, you got the benefits of +1 wheel and tire combinations in the bargain.

  1. I think we've got to give a nod to any manufacturer that offered any type of BBS basketweaves as a factory option. I think they look good on most cars (emphasis on most, because when they look wrong, they look WRONG), and simply paining "weave" in a different color can dramatically change the look.
    I think all the Germans are included in that group, if not currently, than sometime in the past. I believe that Toyota and Mazda have also offered the basketweaves on their sportier offerings at some point or another.
    <img src="http://home.comcast.net/~james.pawlicki/rabbit13.jpg"&gt;

    1. I always thought Volk CE28N's didn't look too dreadful.. <img src=http://www.scienceofspeed.com/products/exterior_performance_products/NSX/Rays/Volk/mono-block/ce28n/P1000318%5B1%5D.jpg width=600>

    1. These things would fall apart when you try to change tires. Seriously, big chunks of the inner bead flake off. Back when I changed tires, we had a customer with one of these who had inner tubes in 3 of 4 wheels because they wouldn't seal to the bead.

  2. Honestly, I have to give this one to Mercedes. Much as I don't care for how their products dirve, their wheel choices hit it out of the park… a few examples below:
    SLR turbines:
    <img src="http://images.gtcarlot.com/pictures/249766.jpg"&gt;
    SLS sport pack:
    <img src="http://image.europeancarweb.com/f/firstlook/epcp_1206_2012_mercedes_benz_sls_amg_roadster/36018179+w320/epcp-1206-03-o+2012-mercedes-benz-sls-amg-roadster+wheels.jpg"&gt;
    And for a classic touch, the 190E Cosworth Evo's Borbets:
    <img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v217/yan36/190wheel.gif"&gt;

  3. I think overall, I see the Europeans copying Mercedes wheels, especially the AMG styles. And I believe imitation is the highest form of flattery.
    But to be different I will select a domestic as well. And that vote goes to Ford.
    The five point SVT rims were classics, be it on a Mustang, SHO, Thunderbird or even the Lightning. They always look good:
    <img src="http://media.motortopia.com/files/1711/vehicle/4664a6dfb7086/101_1888.jpg&quot; width=450>
    The Euro set for the Focus was a nice touch:
    <img src="http://www.dragtimes.com/images/6608-2003-Ford-Focus.jpg&quot; width=450>
    The new Taurus rims look great:
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a4/2013_Ford_Taurus_SHO_–_2012_DC.JPG&quot; width=450>
    As do the new Mustang wheels:
    <img src="http://mustangsdaily.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/01_boss302live.jpg&quot; width=450>
    The key thing is that they are not afraid to have slightly different style than most non-luxury lines. The recent products especially have been high on style.

    1. I had those euros on my Focus SVT. The 2004's came with 6 spoke wheels that weren't that sharp. Found a set w/ tires on ebay for $400.

  4. Any wheel without an inset lip looks on anything other than an old car from the 50s looks awful to me. For example, the difference between the 1977 snowflake wheel on the Trans Am verses the 8" version in 1978 is all the difference in the world.

  5. I'd like to nominate Holden and HSV wheels as a company grouping.
    Holden HSV GTS: Sure, they're a bit gaudy and techno-busy for my tastes, but they're undeniably cool, and very daring for factory pieces.
    <img src="http://www.hsv.com.au/galleries/hsv/eseries2_gts/GTS7.jpg&quot; width="600">
    Same car, other wheel option:
    <img src="http://www.caradvice.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/wheel-1.jpg&quot; width="600">
    CV8-Z wheels were made with and without the lettering:
    <img src="http://www.gmhsurplus.com.au/CV8Z.JPG&quot; width="600">
    CV8-R
    <img src="http://holmart.com.au/online/images/vycv8r04.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. That is NOT the factory P75 Touring Sedan wheel! That is a 16" alloy from the '93-up Crown Vic with the HPP option, The P75 had a two tone 15" alloy rim that was exclusive to '92-only Touring Sedan. This guy's car is probably the BEST survivor in existence, but these wheels were added on. I'll try to post a photo here, but my computer is not letting me do that easily. http://auto.aggress.ru/images/22/Crown%20Victoria

    1. That's kinda cool (pun unintentional). Wish they'd done two smaller ones, just for the sake of symmetry.

      1. They're correctly oriented. Passenger side wheels turn clockwise when driving forward. The wide edge is the leading edge of the NACA duct.

        1. So are these intended to flow outside air to the brakes, or vent brake air to the outside? Every fixed NACA duct I've seen has the wide edge at the back.
          <img src="http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3323/3526074932_c6bb57ec8a_z.jpg&quot; width=500">
          <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Lamborghini_Espada-650×346.jpg&quot; width=500>
          <img src="http://img697.imageshack.us/img697/8155/16205yb1024x780.jpg&quot; width=500>

    2. Is there a warbling whistle or thrumming sound at high speeds? It seems to me the duct would only work when facing forward at the top of the wheel, which would also be its peak velocity. I'm sure in reality it's okay, but imagining what could happen is a lot of fun.

      1. Let's see, assuming the tire is rolling without slipping (a mostly good assumption), the wheel will have an angular velocity such that the outside diameter of the tire has linear velocity equal to the velocity of the car. Which means that on any given diameter on the wheel, the linear velocity of a point will be slower than the car is moving.
        The next assumption is that the air speed across the side of the wheel is equal to the velocity of the car and in the opposite direction (this is likely wildly not correct, tire/wheel aerodynamics are a bitch, but I've got a BS in Physics, so that's what I'm doing, BSing). Given that assumption, at the top, the effective airspeed is going to be directly into the NACA duct and twice the speed of the car. At the bottom, it should be effectively zero airspeed. In between, the air will be flowing partially across the duct, so there will be some component of the airflow across the duct in the right direction for most of the wheel's rotation (there will be a mostly dead zone centered on NACA duct opening vertical).
        Of course, I made a big sweeping assumption about the airflow, and fluid dynamics is never that nice. My real point is it would be potentially effective at a lot of other points. However, your observation that there is likely an aerodynamic blip is almost certainly correct. I really want a set of these now.

        1. An informative, knowledgeable reply – thanks.
          Would it make more sense to add a second duct rotated 180* and opposite from the first?

          1. That should help. There is also the chance that the effect is nothing more than a bit of interesting speed dependent wind noise, in which case the second duct would likely just make it a bit more constant. It could mean more air to the brakes, which would be another benefit.
            However, I haven't done any math or other modeling, so this is all educated guess work. They are still dorky and awesome wheels.

          2. It would have been helpful, except I had NACA ducts backwards (I'm blaming Friday evening; I don't know what I was thinking). I think my handwavy vector math is right, but that means that the peak flow in the correct direction is the very bottom, so it's no better than any shaped hole on the rim.

          3. That's okay. I'm disappointed I didn't catch it either. Maybe the wheels were accidentally mounted on the wrong side for the photo shoot.

      1. Hurr? What? Just… sitting around? Them're a direct fit on my Mk1 Rabbit.
        If only I had monies, cause right now I could only give you about tree fiddy.
        Curse my pitiful paychecks!

        1. Yep, just sitting around. I was thinking about welding some together and making a coffee table out of them. Honestly, find your local BMW club or local BMW scrapper and you will find some cheap bottlecaps. E30 owners in my area can't even seem to give them away. A friend of mine just scrapped well over 30 bottlecaps because no one wants them and they were worth more as scrap.

          1. They're a good fit on 4×100 Hondas. Which means the market for them is actually huge – just not within the BMW community. The problem is that 14" is considered miniscule these days.

    1. Not a factory wheel for that car; that's a misleading picture. Those wheels didn't come out until the Barracuda had switched from the A body to the E body in 1970, and those center caps came out a few years after that.
      How about some "recall" wheels instead? These premium option wheels hadn't been out very long before Chrysler issued a recall for cracking and loosening issues and they destroyed every set they got back.
      <img src="http://static.flickr.com/36/120043852_c51446c0c0.jpg?v=0"&gt;

  6. Overall, I have to go with BMW. All of their optional BBS wheels through the late 90s and early 2000s were just gorgeous. The E34 M5 wheels were wonderful. The similar wheel on the E36 M3s was almost as great. And the M-Parallel is one of the best wheels ever designed. So simple, and yet so beautiful. BMW just almost never misses when it comes to wheels.
    <img src="http://www.ultraracing.lv/bmw/BMW-E38.jpg&quot; width="600">

    1. A million times, this. There is no BMW, past or present, that cannot be improved with a set of M Parallels.

  7. Since I see that everyone stays with their respective flavour, I'll have to say Volvo's Perfo and Galileo/Turbine (?) wheels.
    But before that – steel wheels anyone? They are the bread and butter option, yes. But we should praise their functionality and longevity.
    <img src="http://www.originalwheels.com/volvo-wheels/images/volvo-240-rims-70167.jpg"&gt;
    This one is the one I have always liked best on any boxy car:
    <img src="http://www.originalwheels.com/volvo-wheels/images/volvo-240-wheels-70149.jpg"&gt;
    And this went on the 850/V70.
    <img src="http://www.dealershipaccessories.com/stores/images/items/item_40741.gif"&gt;

      1. Everytime I "fix" something with a hammer I need to cry a little. But, yes, I see your point that somebody without two left hands and ten sausage fingers might actually master this advanced tool.

      1. Shit! Someone upvote this man, my finger slipped.
        Pegs have no dish, and no dish looks weird to me. They're particularly awkward on RWD cars. C'mon, get a set of Galaxies or Polariseseses; at least those look right.

    1. Volvo 14" steelies really do look that good. I'd have to disagree with you on the 'Corona' turbines, though… if I wanted to stick with 14s, I'd track down some 240 Classic 'Scorpius'…
      <img src="http://all-carz.com/data_images/volvo-240-gli-limited-edition/volvo-240-gli-limited-edition-07.jpg&quot; width=600>
      …but my actual plan is to use my favourite Volvo wheels, the 'Sirius'/'Nova' 15s from the early 760:
      <img src="http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5059/5641946186_1f05e6a699_z.jpg&quot; width=600>
      I wouldn't turn down a set of Multi-Xes (later 780) either…
      <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Volvo780.jpg&quot; width=600>

      1. We can settle on the Sirius/Nova wheels. =8^) I generally like spoke wheels, but not on bricks. Makes them look like fat ballerinas…

      1. It's coming along. I swapped in a running motor and a manual trans. It just needs a few finishing touches like park brake, speedo cable, etc, and it'll be good to go. Mostly, I'm just waiting for some decent weather so I can drive it.

    1. The A12 has got to be one of the most no-nonsense factory options ever offered. 440 Six pack, lift off hood, JJ blackouts, red streaks. Add stoplights, accelerate for 12 seconds, stir the four-speed, repeat, enjoy.

  8. Saab Klingon 3-spokes. Rollin' on bat'leths.
    <img src=http://pic.armedcats.net/l/la/labcoatguy/2013/02/15/klingon_viggen.jpg>

    1. My mom had a Panda once. It rusted from the inside out and from the outside in, of course. So when these two trends met, the thing folded.
      Those wheels are probably the only aerodynamic element on the whole car.

    1. I dunno who downvoted you (it wasn't me! You're back at +1 now), but I sort of see why… these always look undersized to me, whatever size they are. Still badass, though.

      1. Those may have been 15"?
        But remember back then, we were all lusting over 60 series tires. Low enough to look cool but tall enough to play rally-boy.

  9. Since Alpina is officially recognized as a manufacturer I've got to go with their 20-spoke designs.
    <img src="http://www.cardotcom.com/photos/cars01/2011-bmw-alpina-b7/alpinab7-01-m.jpg&quot; width="600" border="0" style="border:none;" alt=" " />
    <img src="http://www.alpina-automobiles.com/fileadmin/user_upload/website/IMAGES/content/parts_accessory/wheels_alpina/7series/ALPINA_dynamic_7erF01_01.jpg&quot; width="600" border="0" style="border:none;" alt=" " />

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