Why wheels are actually the most important part of your car

Why wheels are actually the most important part of your car

There is an old saying that "wheels make or break your car" and, from an aesthetic point of view, that is certainly true. You can have the shiniest paint, the most killer engine swap, and the loudest BOV, but if your wheel choice is off the car just won't hit the same. 

"Good-fitting wheels definitely make the car, because they will work well, look awesome, and allow you to personalise the car," Marty says. "Put good tyres on them, like these mad Michelin PS5s I have on the Levorg, and you improve the looks of your car and its handling performance with one, simple mod!"

Marty has gone through hoops and rings of fire to find the perfect wheels for his cars, and this can take quite a long time when you're dealing with rare tiny JDM nuggets. As he discussed in the LATEST EPISODE (CLICK HERE) Marty has never had a set of the iconic Rays TE37s.

"I always thought of TE37s as a Nissan wheel so I never really paid too much attention to them," laughs Marty. "Then I started seeing them on more and more cars and it really sunk in that they do look great on everything."

Surely the most iconic wheel from the JDM tuner scene, the TE37 is a lightweight forged one-piece six-spoke which debuted as a 15-inch wheel weighing 3.7kg (hence the "37" in TE37). While they're renowned for being fat, lightweight, aggressive wheels that enhance GT-Rs, Supras and RX-7s, they don't hit quite the same for the rally-bred scene.

"The biggest battle I had with getting TEs onto the Levorg was fitment, because they had to get over massive six-pot brakes and you couldn't run crazy low-offset, because Subaru," sighs Marty, who goes on to explain why offset is everything when it comes to cool wheels.

"It took me a while to realise that offset is what makes wheels look cool, more than anything else," says Marty. "Regardless of the diameter and width of the wheel, if you get the offset right the wheel will look really good."

"Everyone into Subarus knows they run something like a +55-offset which is crazy high to fit around the all-wheel-drive, track width, and suspension. So 40-offsets are safe, 30s are starting to be borderline, and forget about the 20s unless you have big pumped guards and the like.

"Dialling in something that fits in the guards nicely, clears the brakes and still has good width (these are 9.5in) can take a fair bit of working out. But to get a really good result you need to spend the time working out what wheel specs will fit.

While he's been hurling spanners on cars for over 20 years now, wheels weren't really on Marty's radar for most of this time. 

"Wheels were a massive mystery to me for ages, and I think people discussing the mathematic specs of wheels is a recent thing," he says. "Because I was a Gemini kid growing up, I had no money and no idea of why certain wheels looked good, I was into ROH wheels... because that was what fit Geminis. I did have a Gemini wagon on Volkswagen Golf steelies on it, and it looked excellent because they were the right offset!"

Ultimately, wheels are an important way to project a car's personality and intent, but don't think you need expensive custom-built three-piece wheels to make your car rad, though. Marty has also spent plenty of time perfecting the OEM+ look.

"The most excited I got about wheels was years ago I had a Gen2 Liberty wagon and I managed to find some 2001 WRX wheels which, at the time, were the hot sauce. They were 17x7s and +55 offset, so they looked awesome with lowering springs but wouldn't ever scrub, andt these were the wheel to get at the time. They cost me $900 which took me quite a while to save up."




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