There’s no skool like the old skool, so here’s our favourite retro wheels…
If there’s one trend that’s emerged via the power of interweb forums and specialist wheeler dealers of late it is that of the retro wheel. Secondhand and ancient race wheels in particular are the hot ticket right now, and if you can find a set of sought after classics there’s a good chance you’ll be able to turn a tidy profit if you carry out a sympathetic restoration and flog ‘em targeting the right audience.
With firms popping up left, right and centre that specialise in locating and restoring unheard of relics from motorsport’s past, there’s every chance something special awaits on a popular interweb auction site. Anyway, here’s some of faves featuring some of the rarest, strangest and coolest rims around in no particular order…
BBS & TURBO FANS
Magnesium motorsport derived split rims from the BBS range are fetching ridiculous sums of your hard earned these days and they split opinion like no other rim. E50s, E52s, E28s, E49s – if you know the number you’re after be prepared to go and see your bank manager to bolt them to your ride. Accompany them with a crazy set of £1000+ BBS turbofans (to aid brake cooling and aerodynamics on race cars) and you’ll have the ultimate racing wheel setup.
SSR FORMULA MESH & SPEEDSTAR SERIES
Classic Japanese wheels are generally favoured by the drifting Skyline, Celica and AE86 crowd. They smack of old skool design cues but will easily look cool on just about anything you could think to attach them to. These 14, 15 and 16 inch wheels are usually available from 6 to 9 inches wide. Lovely!
VOTEX ( PORSCHE DESIGN ) FOUR SPOKE
This was one bizarre Porsche design collaboration that resulted in a world-famous four-spoke wheel of questionable origins. 15 and 16-inch versions are available and they do a matching steering wheel as well.
Talk to any retro Japanese car fan worth their salt and they’ll instantly tell you about the Hayashi range of rims. Look to the Street, Yayoi and Techno Racing as the most popular designs. They’re so iconic that firms such as Rota have been known to re-engineer these classic Jap rims with their own twist and sell them at bargain prices.
PORSCHE TELEDIAL / FUCHS / DESIGN 90
Choose a Porsche wheel, slap some PCD adapters on and away you go! The vast majority of Porsche wheels have a high positive offset in a 5×130 PCD so there’s a good chance they’ll work with your car given the right adapters. Polish them up and job’s a good ‘un.
Eternally cool on older vehicles ever since car modification began. The recent uprising of the banded steel has taken a hold particularly on the VW scene. 15in G60 and 17in T5 steels are increased in widths up to and beyond 10-inches wide and painted in lairy colours to transform the hum drum into the hell yeah!
OZ FUTURA & OZ GROUP N MAGNESIUM
All Ford and Subaru peeps will recognise the gold lightweight magnesium wheels that featured on any number of rally cars throughout the 80s and 90s. The Futura on the other hand is a split rim masterpiece that comes in a huge variety of PCDs, widths, diameters and offsets.
Seriously cool and controversial the Nothelle N Classics are amongst the coolest retro VW rims we’ve seen. 7×16 in 4 and 5×100 PCDs.
Super weird Marmite wheel that never fails to divide opinion. If you can actually find one it’ll be a 7×15 in a 4×100 PCD.
Popular with the BMW boys and girls the A is a timeless classic that always looks best in 7.5x17in sitting pretty on an E30 3-series.
All time split rim classic that’s now becoming very expensive if you want the real deal. But look after them and they’ll keep their value, in fact the value will probably go up.
Generally found amongst the Formula Renault race fraternities they come in 5 spoke and cross spoke designs from 13-inch to 18-inch with a variety of widths on offer. Racecar aesthetics for the absolute win!
RENAULT ALPINE WHEELS
Look back at the Renault Alpine A series catalogue and you’ll find all sorts of cool mad looking single piece designs. The A610 turbine wheel in particular is a favourite of ours.
RONAL RACING WHEELS
Another racing favourite, these lightweight multi-piece wheels are gaining in both popularity and price all the time. Ronal also make the infamous Teddy Bear as well, one of the maddest wheels of all time.
MAZDA 121 KOALA
Ahhhh, a Koala. The ladies in your life will love you and if you can track down a Mazda 121 Koala (special edition) there’s no reason you couldn’t rock a marsupial on your motor right?
You might laugh, but we reckon these are due another comeback. If you can find a set you’ll get these for next to nothing as almost everyone seems to hate them. Surely that’s reason enough to give a set a try.
A forgotten classic that comes in a variety off PCDs, offsets and widths generally in 16-inch. Smacks of the classic Revolution RFX styling but with a German twist. The split-rim form is the ultimate.
Really put the cat amongst the pigeons with a set of three spokes. These super-rare rims rank up there with the Saab 9000 Turbo three spokes for rated or hated appeal.
HTN / PLS / TRAMONT WHEELS
Custom made overseas split rims that will rock your bank manager’s world if bought new, but sometimes crop up in the ever popular Wheel Whores classifieds.
1552 SNOWFLAKES + TARMAC
A reproduction of an old school VW favourite and Ken Block’s favourite hoops. 1552 Design offer both in cast form and we’ve yet to see a car that doesn’t look badass on the one piece perfection that is the Tarmac.
Multi-piece wheels in particular are very popular as it’s possible to source reproduction lips from the likes of Image Wheels or from German specialists such as Tunershop.de. Old school British manufacturers such as Compomotive and Revolution are also high on the list of ‘must haves’ while plenty of OEM wheels from Porsche, Renault, Mazda and even Volvo can make a big impact when detailed properly. A new trend is also making split rims out of wheels not intended to be multi-piece designs, although you’ll need a highly skilled specialist engineering shop to execute such an undertaking. Worth it though!
BUYING YOUR WHEELS
Auction sites – Get online and try your luck. Keep your mince pies peeled on popular auction sites especially those from within the EU as you won’t be eligible for import tax. Just bung obscure search terms in like racing rims, split rims, multi-piece wheels, old school wheels and try misspelling the name of the wheel manufacturer you’re looking for – you may end up with a billy bargain.
MAKING YOUR OWN SPLIT RIM
What, we hear you cry? A custom split rim made from a wheel I already own? Yep, you read that right. Numerous engineering companies can cut, slice and drill single piece wheels to become two or even three piece wheels. Prices generally hover around £200 a wheel depending upon the level of work, but think about the exclusivity and unique value of turning your favourite rim into a multi-piece wonder Check out Force Racing and G23 Engineering.
DON’T FORGET YOUR RUBBER
Be aware that unless you plan on stretching your tyres the choice of wide rubber available in 14s & 15s can be seriously limited for smaller diameter applications. This is particularly the case with nine-inch wide wheels.