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A Walk Down the Aisles

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A Walk Down the Aisles

As promised, for those poor souls who didn’t get to make the trek to Las Vegas and the ITE/SEMA show, here is the salt for your wounds …

Where do I begin? So much to tell, so little space. Let’s start with the tires featured at the show. If you were scared to think about mounting a 24-inch tires last year, how about this year’s 28-inch monster? Kumho Tire has been a little busy these last several months cooking up the next biggest piece of UHP rubber. Here is the display of their ECSTA STX line with a trio of 24-, 26- and 28-inch wheel diameter tires.

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And as you can see in Photo A, all of these tires were mounted. Lexani got the call to create the wheel to fill this monster.

Considering how few 24-inch tires made it to market this year, you had better place an order now or else watch your competition get the sale. In the current market of ultra large diameter tires and wheels, product is scarce and the dealer with the goods gets the sale.

Don’t expect these larger sizes to be sitting around in a warehouse somewhere waiting for you to call. Every city with a professional sports team – a rich target market for giant tire/wheel packages ®“ will be scrapping to get these "big boyz."

Look for a flood of new 24- and 26-inch wheels to hit the market this year. Space limits us to talking about just a few, but be watching for our annual Performance Tire & Custom Wheel Guide coming in Spring for more.

Optical Illusion

Moving on to the next radical concept let’s take a look at Lexani. This wheel maker not only thinks outside the box, they redesigned the box itself. Lexani developed new technology that allows the company to enlarge the face of a wheel while mounting a smaller tire on it.

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They took a 22-inch wheel and made it look like a 27-inch wheel on the face. "How did they do that?" you ask? To pull this off, they worked with Nitto Tire North America, which took a 22-inch tire, adjusted the sidewall profile to fit the wide face and then molded a rim protector lip just above the edge of the wheel. This gives the visual impression of it being a 27-inch diameter tire. It’s hard to describe, but seeing is believing.

Then they took it a step further and showed off a bit, taking a 26"-inch tire and wheel and making them look like a 30-inch pair, which we have pictured here (Photo B).

And if all of that wasn’t enough, take a look at the true 30-inch tire and wheel combo featured in Photo C. This is a prototype, but who knows, it may show up next year on a vehicle or two.

Take a close look at the photo. Notice that the sidewall is the width of two fingers. I see a great opportunity for wheel repair shops if this makes it onto the street.

Wheel "Accessories"

Taking a look at the tuner market, American Racing announced an agreement with Universal Studios to have its RO-JA signature line of Motegi wheels featured in the upcoming Fast & the Furious 2 to be released this coming Summer. R.J. De Vera designed a couple of the wheels (Photo D).

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In addition to the wheels, a complete line of apparel and wheel care products will round out the total marketing plan for the new line.

If all of this sounds a tad bit too "Hollywood" for you, get ready. With the success of more films featuring fast cars and even more exciting chase big business is taking notice and looking for more product placement advertising in and cross-marketing with future movies – additional opportunities to drive consumers to your door.

As a dealer, you can take these same ideas and work a marketing plan on a smaller scale for your area. Contact the owners of various shops that offer custom paint and body work, audio/video installation and/or engine tuning to create your own project vehicle.

The cost can be divided and the finished project can be used to promote each of your businesses, especially at large events like ball games, car shows, contests and the like. What better way to reach your market, than to be a part of it?

All indications are that 2003 will be another year of great opportunities. Don’t wait to see what others are doing, make something great happen yourself. Look for more in-depth coverage and marketing ideas to come.

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Now for a brief correction: Last month we talked about how to correct certain driveability issues, including how you can make camber and caster work for you. We had a couple of illustrations to show what cross camber and cross caster were, but they got mixed up due to an editing error.

Illustration B that appeared on page 44 actually shows cross caster, not cross camber. Illustration D on page 46 shows cross camber. Sorry for the mix up.

If you have any ideas to share or discuss, I can be reached c/o Tire Review or at [email protected]

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