We’ve previously discussed here on Rat Rods the almost endless possibilities for parts to build a custom car. From grilles to cabs to engines and everything in between, all the parts on your car can be tweaked to your personality. One important part of any car or truck build is the wheel and tire selection. This is especially important on a rat rod or hot rod since a lot of the time, the tires are front and center with no fenders covering them. Let’s take a look at a few of the more common wheel and tire treatments and be sure to let us know what your favorite is.
We’ll start on the more “traditional” side of the spectrum with a classic “stock” style wheel and white-wall combination. On both of the trucks pictured above, you can see the front and rears appear to be the same size and they have a great look. A thick white-wall looks great on a classic car and when combined with OEM style wheels, they are even better. The red wheels on the Honest Charlie truck are spokes while the black wheels above are artillery style. Either one is a great look.
Here’s a variation of the white-wall “stock” wheel combination. This Chevy features modern low-profile rubber with large diameter wheels that have a stock-style center cap. This is a good compromise between performance and traditional styling.
How about Jimmy Shine’s personal pickup? This truck uses wagon-wheel style rims with polished center caps and black wall tires. The red paint on the wheels is very attention-getting and when combined with the red on the engine block, it ties the whole package together.
Another white wall treatment is to pair them with spoked wheels. These are a later version of a custom wheel that was really popular in the 50s and 60s. They can be five-spokes like the ones above, chrome, polished aluminum, and a grey “mag” style finish as well.
This truck features white-walls with mag-style wheels and knock-off spinners. The big-n-little combo looks great and the fat slicks out back make this truck ready for business.
Let’s take a look at some more modern wheels. When you start adding horsepower, disc brakes, and modern suspensions, modern performance tires will help keep your ride pointed in the right direction. For those that want a more classic look, it’s hard to beat the five-spoke style.
Here’s another modern take on a 5-spoke wheel. The gray/polished combination is really striking and looks great on this car.
From mild to wild, this take on a 5-spoke wheel isn’t for everyone’s taste. Whether you love it or hate it, this combination is very attention-getting and probably makes this car feel like it’s on rails.
Here’s a little less flashy version of the big/modern wheel. These 6-spokes take this truck into the 21st century and the black wheels with silver highlights look great with the black paint. The directional tires probably perform really well and guide this old truck wherever the driver wants it to go.
How about a full-custom wheel? This copper Caddy wears its copper wheels very well and they tie in with the car better than any factory wheel could. While most people will never have a set of one-off wheels built, they can take your build to the next level.
We hope this article gives you some ideas and shows you the wide range of possibilities when it comes to choosing your wheel and tire package. The choices are nearly endless and the only limit is your imagination (and $ of course). Let us know what you have on your ride or what you would like to have. We’d love to hear your thoughts.