There’s been a bit of a problem. A problem that I’m sure I’m not alone in. A problem that’s... Well, see for yourself.
Notice anything strange? No? What if I told you that all of these were supposed to fit on a ‘74 Plymouth Fury? See? There go your eyes rolling. Now. We can get to the matter at hand. The matter that’s been bugging me for years.
There’s been a massive disconnect between manufacturers of rims, and the cars that they’re supposed to go on. For years and years, the tuning scene took over the aftermarket in terms of design. Body kits, spoilers, neon, rims, all of it looked to those busted suspension Volkswagens and the Hondas missing their hoods. And while the body kits have disappeared, and neon’s all but gone, the spoilers and rims from that era remain. Mind you, I don’t care about the spoilers. They look pretty good on most cars, assuming you cut them down so they’re not taller than the roof of your car. But the rims... Well, the rims are absolutely, positively, gut-wrenchingly terrible. And nobody seems to notice.
Notice the disconnect on this car. There’s those big meaty haunches. That smooth, svelt beltline. The rounded contours of the sides. The relatively low-placed wheel arches. And then there’s those low-profile tires wrapped around those atrocious flat-faced no-lip rims. Those little roundy spinny things that make you laugh when you see smoke have ruined the fun of the entire car.
Now, I’m not saying that I hate these types of rims. I don’t. On the proper vehicle they look quite alright. But the “proper vehicle” is usually a single model. Quite a few times, there is no proper vehicle. Personally, I blame this on the creative freedoms given to the designers. They’re told to create a design. Fine, okay, you draw up a pretty cool looking five spoke and send it to the computer so AutoCAD can make a workable model. But as the designer, you’re not taking into account where the product is going to end up.
For example, this Mustang GT. The rims are BBS RK series, in eighteen inch guise. Notice how these are the deep-dish rims, how they curve inwards. They compliment the car by being the right colour (in a satin silver), by being the right size to emphasize the litheness of the Fox-body Mustang GT, and they have just the right amount of tire on them to say “sporty” without going into “wearing your workout banana hammock to a morning jog” territory. They’re perfect for the car, which is rare outside of the stock rims.
Compare that same approach to this 350Z. Not so good looking now, huh? With this it’s mostly the fault of the car, and not the rims. The car’s rear half of the beltline makes the wheel arch seem a bit too small. But the rims themselves are at fault, too. These particular Enkei RP-03s don’t work on this car due to a mutitude of factors, but they’re sooo close. For one is the arch on the spokes. It’s just barely in the wrong spot, making the offset of the rims look wrong in just the right spaces to confuse your eyes. Second is the lip-within-a-lip design going on here. You’re combining the arms and chest of a cartoon woodsman with the legs of a ballet dancer. It doesn’t work because the inner lip is thicker than the outer lip, and this makes it seem like the rims are too small for the car. Some slightly thicker ends on the spokes would work wonders as well, but that’s just a nitpick because of certain angles.
And then there’s the Chrysler Rallye rims. These things are beautiful. In two tone such as in the example above with brushed steel or grey paint on the inside and chrome on the outer lip, it’s hard to say they’re ugly. The large center hides the brakes and gives the illusion that the wheels are already in motion. The thick and stubby spokes give it some heft. The chrome lip draws your attention to the outside from the center. It’s akin to a big burly dude wearing a tight-fitting shirt. You’ve no doubt the guy can handle himself. Personally, these are some of my favourite rims of all time thanks to the rather simple and brawny design. But as they say, there’s always a way to screw something up...
Right off the bat your eyes detect something’s amiss here. They’re the same rims, right? Why do they look so wrong? Time for everything you’ve learned to come into play. Notice the size of the tires. They’re too small. It’s as though that heavy ‘Cuda is riding on stilts. Then there’s the colour choice. While the saturation of the colours is a bit down and the contrast is high thanks to the amateur photography, you can immediately tell that the colour choice doesn’t work. At all. The very bright silver, almost platinum colour of the rim is a sharp contrast to the slightly watered down hue of blue on the car. That, combined with the fact that there’s no chrome on the outside lip, means that there’s no contrasting colours or reflections to work with. Compounding the fact is that the rims don’t have the two-piece design of the original Rallyes, and your eyes pick up on it just enough to notice that there’s no separate band around the outside to make the rims look meatier. That’s a problem.
Which brings me back to my original point. With the ability to design rims being so easy due to the sheer amounts of different types of cars and trucks out there, why is it that we always get these over-sized pinwheels of rims that look like they belong in a Need For Speed game? Is it so hard to ask somebody to design a set of rims that works on something other than a concept car?
Photo references from the following: