A Red Hot Market: Knowing the Options Can Help Deliver a Winning Look - Tire Review Magazine

A Red Hot Market: Knowing the Options Can Help Deliver a Winning Look

It all starts innocently enough. A couple of car nuts decide to get together on a weekend to show off their rides. Before long, it becomes an organized event.

Streetrods and muscle cars are seeing a huge growth in popularity and will continue to grow. Traditionally a market for the over-50 crowd, you may be surprised to know that every age bracket is represented here, with disposable income on par with all other market segments.

Taking this to the highest level, we find guys like Troy Trepanier, renowned designer, fabricator and owner of Rad Rides by Troy (www.radrides.com). Always introducing firsts in this industry, we see below what is affectionately known as “Chicayne.” For you non-Formula 1 fans (and after Indy, there will be a lot more of you), a “chicane” is a deviation in a race track that causes the driver to maneuver around a C-shaped path, requiring great agility and driving skills. This 1962 Impala sports 19s and 22s.

As a dealer, you will be looked to for advice on tire and wheel combinations that will transform a good-looking vehicle into a trophy winner like Chicayne. Having worked directly in this market for many years, I want to provide you with some products and information that will help you make the sale and build a reputation as the retail store to go to for answers.

Remember, you’re not talking to just one customer; you’re talking to every ‘rodder that your customer knows.

One big difference is usually in the amount of time you have to spend determining the correct tire and wheel sizes that will provide the right combination of performance, looks and load capacity. I say that this will take time, but not always. As you become more familiar with your specific tire lines, the process will speed up dramatically. Just make sure that you ask questions that will help guide you when making recommendations.

The number-one question you should ask: Will there be any modifications to the brakes or suspension? If so, make them first before proceeding. After that, find out what the owner has in mind as far as stance. If the vehicle has a natural rake toward the front, you may want to run the same overall diameter tire front and rear but stagger the width. This will provide an aggressive look from the rear as well as the side. If you are working on a vehicle that has big bubble fenders, consider a taller tire in proportion to the fender and the wheel well opening. If the vehicle needs a lift in the back to get the desired rake, increase the tire and/or wheel diameter. Here is where you can spend a lot of time.

When differentiating the tires from front to rear, matching the tread pattern has to be meticulous. Here are some examples:

BFGoodrich (www.bfgoodrichtires.com) offers an extensive array of tires, from the white letter T/A to the g-Force KDW.

The BFG g-Force KDW comes in a traditional directional tread designated as TT, and the “flamed” version pictured on this page is designated as NT. A first-generation Camaro typically will only have room for a 205/50R17 in front and a 255/40R17 in rear to maintain the same OD. A mini tub will allow even wider rubber in the rear. In other treads or brands, a good choice for this type of setup could be 215/45R17 or 245/45R17 in front paired with 275/40R17 or even 315/35R17 on the rear.

In decades past, the term “big ‘n littles” meant an average tire diameter on front and a huge diameter tire on the rear. These days, it means 17s on the front and 20s on the rear or perhaps 18s or 20s on the front and 22s or 24s on the rear. BFG has a 245/35R20 and 305/50R24 in the new tread to make this work.

Hankook also offers several sizes in an assortment of tires with the same tread. Match up a 225/40R18 with a 275/35R20 on a 1934 three-window, and you’ll see what I mean. Hankook’s Ventus K104 tire has a great-looking, contemporary directional tread that really adds to the visual lines of the vehicle. This may sound trivial, but you have to look at the whole package and how each part complements the overall design.

This leads us to the jewelry. One of the best known of all classic wheels is the American Racing Torque Thrust (www.americanracing.com). Originally offered in a one-piece cast with a magnesium-colored center and machined lip, the timeless design has evolved into a wider array of sizes and a two-piece version that can be ordered polished or with a chrome-plated center.

The two-piece design is built in what American Racing calls “the custom shop.” Wheels are built to order and delivered within six to eight weeks. Some standard sizes are kept on hand, but the flexibility of various offsets and widths allows you to push the limit on application. But, one word of caution: This wheel is offered in a 5×5.5 bolt pattern with a 3.78-inch tapered bore. If your customer has this bolt pattern, make sure that the hub is not larger than the centerbore on the wheel.

Another company, Billet Specialties (www.billetspecialties.com), has a strong foothold in the rodding market, as well.

This nostalgic design, resembling a kidney bean because of the shape of the windows, is available from 15×4 to 20×9.5. As the name of the company implies, these are billet aluminum wheels. Notice that these have a standard outer hoop and drop center. In contrast, take a look at the Intro (www.introwheels.com) Matrix below.

With its reversed drop center, the Matrix has the illusion of a larger wheel. A unique feature of Intro styling is what they call the “satin suede finish” that adds a texture to the face of the spokes. Intro offers sizes from 15 to 24 inches, so once you determine the tires you want to use, the wheel should be no problem.

A few more companies to check out include: Diamondback Classics, Coker Tire and Wheel Vintiques.

Most of us will never work on – much less build – a Streetrod of the Year award winner like Troy Trepanier did, but making customers feel like they own a car of that caliber will have them beating your door down for years to come.

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