Elsewhere in this issue we’ve explored all the myriad ways in which you can ruin a car’s look by failing to consider all the elements that have come together to create a complementary look. One of the key elements is wheel and tire fitment—not just how much of either you have, but where it’s positioned under the car.
You’ve seen the guys who get this wrong. From a sideview, everything may seem copacetic, but when viewed askew or from the front or rear, the rollers are either sticking out too far, or sucked inward toward the framerails. It’s all about perception of proper proportion and there are really two basic elements to consider: get as much wheel and tire width as will fit, and bring the whole package outward toward the sheetmetal as much as possible. You want to create the feeling that the rollers are using all of the available real estate in the wheelwells, no more, no less.
Historically, that was a bit of a problem, since one-piece cast wheels are only available in whatever standard group of backspace options that manufacturer chooses to produce them in. They may have one or two that will technically fit a given car, but it’s guaranteed that there will be a trade-off. You either won’t get as much width as you could, or it could have that unmistakable “generic” fitment.
If you know what you’re looking...
If you know what you’re looking for, you really only need a ruler and a yardstick or tape measure to get your numbers. Here Zak Kingsland of Boze Wheels uses them to create a “T” from the wheel mounting surface and checks the most obvious consideration: inner wheelwell to the quarter-panel lip. The ’76 housed roughly 11 inches of cavern at peak, but to account for tire and wheel flex under cornering loads we need to leave about .5 to .75 inch of clearance on each side. Also, note the shape of your wheelwell and how much suspension travel you need as that may affect the numbers.
Nowadays, two-piece wheels are common and come in a wide array of styles and prices, and thanks to the centers being manufactured separately from the rim, the number of backspacing options skyrockets. We knew we wanted something with a little attitude to give the EcoNova more personality than the chrome rallies could, so we gave Zak Kingsland from Boze Wheels a call to figure out what to use. Boze has a huge assortment of styles available, which is key for matching an oddball body like our ’76. Plus, Boze is local to Bodie Stroud Industries where the EcoNova currently resides and they regularly do business together, so he volunteered to swing by and show use the finer points of what to consider when ordering custom wheels and three unique ways to do it.