Of the exterior upgrades available for your ride, swapping to a set of new wheels is one of the most straightforward ways to dramatically change your car’s aesthetics. There are hundreds of wheel manufacturers out there to choose from, but buyer beware, not all wheels are created equal. For the most part it’s very much a case of “you get what you pay for” and selecting bargain-basement wheels isn’t without its perils. We’re not saying you need to blow your entire build budget by any means, but we strongly recommend sticking with name brands that have been around for some time, and definitely avoiding bargain basement “eBay Specials”. Of the options on the market right now, here are some of our personal favorites.
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1. Editor's Pick: Volk Racing TE37
This list could not be completed without the inclusion of the revered TE37 from Volk Racing. This was the first all-aluminum forged wheel by RAYS (Volk Racing’s parent company), and thanks to their clever manufacturing the wheel is fantastically robust, and light as a feather. Its name stands for Touring Evolution—a nod to the touring cars that ran the wheels in competition, and the concept of evolving the wheel industry—as well as a reference to the 3.7 kilogram mass of the first examples produced in a 15-inch diameter. If you’re looking to shave weight off your ride, look here first.
2. American Racing Torq Thrust
If you’re more of a classic/hot rod fan, you’ll no doubt recognize the classic Torq Thrust from American Racing. Reasonably priced (usually between $100 and $200) and classically styled, you’ve no doubt seen a ’60s Ford Mustang, late ’50s Chevy Bel Air, or other classic car sporting these over the years. The best part is, they come in a broad range of sizes and finished—we’re partial to the painted grey look seen here.
3. Enkei RP03
We love the simple five-spoke look, and the Enkei RP03 shows how good it can look, with spokes that reach to the edge of the rim to make the wheels look even larger. The RP03 comes from Enkei’s racing lineup, so it’s light and durable as well as being handsome.
4. BBS Super RS
BBS is a German manufacturer that has supplied original equipment wheels to just about every major European and Japanese automaker. The forged-aluminum RS, with its cross-spoke design, became an icon of performance in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The wheel is still offered in an updated version called the Super RS, a good choice if you want to capture a vintage performance look.
5. HRE Vintage Series 505M
The whole “vintage throwback” trend has hit everything from watches and fashion to interior decor, and even in the custom autos space there’s something to be said for kicking it old school. HRE has an entire range of vintage-inspired wheels that reference designs from years past, manufactured using modern technology and offered in more modern (read: much larger) sizing. Of the pack the 505M is easily the hero, whose design you’ll likely recognize from the much-loved Ferrari F40. They don’t come cheap, but much like with BBS wheels, you get prime quality for your hard-earned dollar.
6. Konig Hypergram
Konig wheels attract us with their simple, functional, lightweight look—and yet they have an artistry that sets them apart from simpler racing wheels. Konig uses a process they call “flow forming” to give their wheels a delicate look with a strong backbone, and with several colors on offer, we love the effect.
7. Anything from ADV1
ADV1 has been making big waves in the custom car/custom supercar market for a while now with their well designed and engineered wheels, so much so that narrowing our pick down to a single style. The sky is effectively the limit when it comes to diameter, width, design, and even color, so regardless if you’re into more of a thin multi-spoke design or prefer something a little more out of the ordinary like our selection above, they’ve pretty much got you covered.
8. OZ Racing Ultraleggera
A racing wheel needs to do more than just look good: It needs to reduce unsprung weight and provide airflow for cooling, while providing enough strength for the abuse of the track. OZ Racing is known for its lightweight wheels, and the Ultraleggera (Italian for ultralight), the latest iteration of their classic racing wheel, offers good looks and good performance.
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