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How do I Choose the Best Wire Wheels?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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To ensure that the best wire wheels are purchased for a particular application, it is best to thoroughly analyze the intended purpose of the vehicle. Whether it be for a period-correct restoration, a classic customization or a show vehicle, there are different versions of wire wheels that each fit a particular use. Details such as finish, spoke type and even the method of mounting the wire wheels to the vehicle are all variables that should be weighed when choosing wheels. Many manufacturers of wire wheels have detailed information online that can aid a potential buyer in choosing the best wheels with the proper design qualities for a given application.

In order to choose the best wire wheels for a period-correct restoration project, it is imperative to accurately decipher the build code of the intended vehicle. Many vehicles were equipped with different styles of wire wheels depending upon the trim level of the vehicle build. Subtle differences in center caps, spoke numbers and even finish types can make the difference between a quality restoration and a mishmash of options and trim. The difference can be as elusive as which type of tire the vehicle has mounted. Whitewall tires, for example, will often use a different style of wheel than the same exact vehicle equipped with black-wall tires.

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When choosing a set of wire wheels for a show or custom vehicle, the choice typically falls to owner preference. Spoke wheels are usually offered in several finish options, from painted to gold-plated. In order to choose the best wheels for a particular customized show car, the finish of the vehicle is typically the deciding factor. Popular flat finishes such as flat black or flat red primer-style paint jobs are often complimented by a painted wheel in gloss red or even chrome. Bright candy finishes lend themselves to gold-plated wheels.

The method of attachment is the final step in selecting the best wire wheels for many vehicle owners. While the majority of wheels use the common lug nut and threaded stud to fasten the wheels to the vehicle, some high-end customs and originals use a knock-off wheel system. The knock-off generally uses a hub attached to the vehicle's brake hub. This knock-off hub uses a center-threaded stud surrounded by drive pins with the typical number consisting of six pins. The wire wheels are placed over the center stud and engage the drive pins with machined locations on the inside of the wheel, while a center fastener is threaded onto the center stud, effectively locking the wheel into place.

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