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Donks, Boxes & Bubbles: Hot Stuff From the SEMA Show Can Put Profits Into Overdrive

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From street rods to ‘donks’ to high-performance European machines and ‘invisible wheels,’ this year’s SEMA Show had you covered with new and innovative products to help you improve your sales.

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Plus, there was a new tool that helps reduce back injuries while improving ride by centering the wheels on a vehicle’s hub.

First up: the ‘rodders. Cooper’s Mickey Thompson unit (mickeythompsontires.com) recently introduced a new line of Sportsman tires that really take advantage of the new era of ‘Big ‘n Littles’ – 18s up front and 20s out back.

The Sportsman S/R radial has a cool flame tread that appeals to most everyone and comes in unique sizes to fit a wide array of vehicles. For instance, let’s say you have a customer with a $100K ‘32 highboy who needs wheels and tires to complement the ride. Wrap a pair of 26X8.00R18LTs on 18x7s and 31X18.00R20LT on 20x15s, and watch jaws drop.

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Complement the rubber with a wheel like Budnik’s (budnik.com) Muroc III with a deep offset, as shown here. What a combo!

For those of you who love the medieval edginess of Rich Evans’ Huntington Beach Bodyworks and the chop-cut-rebuild scene, Evans has launched a new line of wheels being produced by Panther Custom Wheels. These wheels didn’t exist 10 days before SEMA, and you are seeing them for the first time here in Tire Review. The CAD drawings were approved, molds built from scratch and wheels cast and plated to be ready for the show. No details about distribution were available at the time of the show, but get ready – these are hot!

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Next: the ‘donks.’ What the heck are those, you ask? Here’s a little course in street lingo. ‘Donks’ are the street name for 1970s land barges like Caprices and Cadillacs, riding on 22-inch-plus wheels.

The 1980s versions, including Regals, Cutlasses and Crown Vics, are called ‘boxes.’ ‘Bubbles’ refer to 1990s Caprice/Impala/RoadMaster bodies. To stuff such massive rollers under these cars, you have to cut away fender well, or in some cases, increase ride height. Until now, various types of ‘modifications’ were used – like swapping springs from trucks – to get the needed clearance.

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Lexani, already known for innovation, partnered with Vogtland North America (vogtland.com) to build taller springs for these types of applications. The springs will be built by Vogtland, marketed by Lexani and distributed through Vogtland’s distributor network.

Now, let’s discuss the high-performance Euro market. Rennworx (rennworx.com) has been working hard in the R&D lab. Take a look at its latest creation, shown here.

Yes, that is a carbon-fiber outer hoop. Add to that a forged magnesium center, and you get an 18- to 20-inch wheel that weighs as little as 14 pounds. Yet, it still maintains load capacity and is streetable! Available in nine-, 10- and split five-spoke designs, these wheels will take eight to 12 weeks to build to your specifications. Obviously, you can’t weld these wheels, so a unique system using titanium fasteners was developed to attach the centers to the hoops securely. The method varies, depending on hoop, center and offset required. Exotic European models, like the Ferrari 430 and Porsche Carrera, take a 12-inch wide rear, and there is an assortment of widths available in the following sizes:

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• 18×8, 11, 13

• 19×9, 9.5, 12

• 20×9.5, 12, 12.5,13

Prices start at $2,050 each for 18×8 to $2,700 each for 20×13.

Heading over to the other side of the spectrum, Forgiato Designs by D’Vinci (forgiato.com) signed an exclusive licensing agreement to market a new ‘clear wheel’ called Radurra that was invented by a young entrepreneur named Doug McGoon. Anyone who has sweated over an invention is well aware of the long hours and sheer determination it takes to produce something that has never existed.

Believe it or not, you are not looking at a Chris Angel illusion. This is real! Forgiato, known for forged wheels, is marketing this new wheel line. It is made of 1.5- to 2-inch-thick polycarbonate, chemically hard coated on both sides. This material is similar to the shatterproof glass used in hockey rinks. Currently, 20- and 22-inch sizes are available, with others to follow shortly. The wheels are built to order, so that fit is perfect. The three-piece wheels have a forged billet, 6061t inner and outer hoop along the center. As for safety, the wheels have passed SAE impact, cornering and radial tests.

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And, finally, here’s that new tool that helps prevent back injuries.

The Wheelfloat (wheelfloat.com) is a dolly that helps remove heavy tire/wheel combos, move them across the floor to the changer and then transport them to the balancer. The tool features gas shocks, which allow you to adjust height up and down to get the wheel centered. This is a huge benefit when working with European vehicles that use lug bolts, and especially, when you’re trying to center a lug-centric aftermarket wheel onto a vehicle hub. It can handle up to 130 pounds and 36 inches of outside diameter.

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You can continue to rely on Tire Review to find the products and information you need to stay ahead of the game. Once we’ve done that, the ball’s in your court.

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