Wheels, tires and stance make a huge difference in the appearance of any car. Swap steel wheels for a set of mags or alloys and it’s like looking at a completely different car. In no particular order, here are some of the most iconic post-war wheel designs.
- GM Rally II.
It’s a simple and great-looking steel wheel, with slots around the perimeter, a chrome beauty ring and the trademark center cap. These look fantastic on any GM performance car, particularly Camaros and Corvettes.
- Magnum 500.
This styled steel wheel might just be one of the prettiest OEM wheels of all time. The black center trim sets off the chrome rims and the petals radiating from the center. Mounted with 70-series tires, they look great filling the wheelwells of any Boss 302, AMX, GTX or Avanti II.
- Pin-Drive Halibrand.
289 Cobras look great on Dunlop wire wheels, but no spoke wheel could handle the torque of a Ford 427 side-oiler. Cast in magnesium and secured by a lethal-looking three-eared spinner, the Halibrand is a wheel for the ages. Aluminum versions remain available for Cobra replica builders.
- Borrani Wires.
Italian manufacturer Ruote Borrani made some of the prettiest knockoff wire wheels ever. The alloy rims, width and offset combined for a supremely exotic look, enhanced by a three-eared spinner. It’s hard to imagine a classic Alfa, Ferrari or Maserati without them.
- Pontiac Rally II.
The Rally II followed Detroit’s convention of using stamped steel to simulate the designs of fancy imported alloy wheels. Unsprung weight wasn’t exactly a concern back then. No matter. The Rally II looked fantastic with or without beauty rings on everything from the Firebird to the GTO Judge.
- Fuchs Alloy.
Porsche introduced this iconic five-spoke forged alloy in 1967 in a skinny 4.5-inch version for the new 911S. It became the most popular alloy wheel for the 911, lasting until 1989. Available in multiple widths to accommodate the massive tires on the Turbo and RSR versions of the 911, it might be one of the best-recognized wheels ever.
The Minilite-style wheel is probably the most popular aftermarket wheel for imported sports cars. Along with the American Racing Libre and four-spoke wheels from BWA and Revolution, they are also the prettiest. Similar designs have also been offered by Panasport, Carroll Shelby and Rota.
- American Racing Torq Thrust.
Along with the Cragar SS five-spoke chrome wheel, the Torq Thrust was practically the official aftermarket wheel of the muscle car era. Ultimately, the gray cast finish of the Torq Thrust’s meaty five spokes triumphed. It survives in sizes to fit modern-day pony cars.
- C2 Corvette Knockoffs.
One of the first alloy wheels offered by an American automaker, the earliest versions of these finned center-lock beauties had trouble holding air, but once the production glitches were resolved, they went on to adorn the stunning Corvette Sting Ray, plus the Mako Shark concept car. Thanks to legislation, these elegant wheels went bolt-on for 1967.
- Cromodora Star.
The five-spoke magnesium Cromodora “star” alloy is practically synonymous with Ferrari and its Daytona, though it was also offered by Alfa Romeo. The design had an exceedingly long life, from 1968 through around 1992.