Tell Us About Your Favorite Aftermarket Wheels, Use These Classic Brochures For Inspiration
Bodywork has a function beyond looking good, but our favorite designs are not determined by drag coefficients or crumple zone architecture. Motors can hold our attention while they’re propped up on silent displays in museums, but we’d rather interact with one via right foot. A car’s shape has function, but it’s the form that’s important. Its power plant can be beautiful, but we prefer the ones that come with shorter sprints to 60. The wheels are a different story though, because like no other element of the larger whole called car, the wheels sit directly on the intersection of rigorous function and style for its own sake. They are the piece of the car that directly reflects this mix, and arguably the simplest expression of it.
A new set of wheels—whether you’re putting plastic spinners over your rusted steelies or bolting on some slick-shod mags with a single center-locking nut and a turbofan on top—whatever they are, they provide a significant change in a car’s general look while the engineering side of the industry is kept forever busy finding ways to slice off micrograms of material without losing structural rigidity.
16-year-olds like aftermarket wheels because they have the power to drastically change the appearance of their cars (for better or worse), and people who have studied materials sciences for 16 years like aftermarket wheels because they can direct their talent toward making road and race cars perform better, even if just by a few fractions’ worth. The point is, there’s a large and diverse population of car enthusiasts out there interested in the arts and/or sciences of wheel design, and since we’re not interested in the latest 26″ offerings from Asanti here at Petrolicious, we’d like to ask: what are your favorite vintage aftermarket wheels? Or a better question, because those AC Courrèges aren’t likely to tick that box for anyone: what do you remember about them? Do you still collect them?
I have a set of period-correct Kelleners K-Sport wheels, and while they draw polarizing opinions they all seem to be based on the same reaction to how dated they are. Some designs, like BBS mesh, are well on their way toward timeless while the Kelleners are obviously a product of a specific period. Beyond the weirder and more fleeting options for aftermarket wheels though, the posters and brochures that accompanied them are intriguing both for nostalgic and comedic reasons. Example: the “Guaranty Card” scan below; in a scene that’s lit and composed like someone’s rendition of Jack the Ripper, a hirsute man defining the word suspicion seems to be making off with a stolen wheel from some poor person’s land yacht. Except the Rolls’ wheel is still there, so either someone from the shoot forgot to remove it or else the shadowy figure is about to offer it in assistance. It’s hard to say what’s going on, but it’s clearly something to do with theft, which is funny considering the design of the wheel has “borrowed” its design to begin with.
Then there’s this. AC Courrèges was what they would have called a tuning company, and in a sort of Hell Kitty’d version of B&B, they turned small cars of the era into futuristic-looking rectangles striped up in colors for an infant’s nursery. The late fashion designer André Courrèges was the creator the company that produced streamlined four-lug aluminum wheels for the international compact car market in the 1980s, and in true form to the industry he came from, the ads for his wheels were… interesting. The styles haven’t aged well, but zoom in on the woman’s skates and think on the fact that no effort in car-to-outfit matching will top this.
Whether you restore them and use them on your cars in 2018, stack them in the garage, or just enjoy an an advertisement with a bunch of surgeon-actors working on a healthy three-piece Compomotive, the aftermarket wheel scene is just another example of how many paths one can take down the road marked for “car guys.”
And if you have scans to share in addition to your stories, please do! These are just a handful of what’s out there.