Making Waves: This Year’s SEMA Styles are Sure to Impress - Tire Review Magazine

Making Waves: This Year’s SEMA Styles are Sure to Impress

In a few days, the 2008 SEMA Show will get underway. In spite of the current economic climate, there is still a lot to be gained by attending the show. New vehicles are still arriving and consumers are still looking for ideas on how to improve upon OE parts.

One of the most anticipated cars to arrive is the 2009 Dodge Challenger.

I have looked closely at the preproduction version of this one for years as it was on display. It always had big-inch tires and wheels. For the production car, though, it appears that the 20-inch package is only for some R/T and all SRT-8 models.

My first encounter for wheels with this car was a SE model that came with P215/65R17 tires on 17×8 wheels. What an opportunity. My customer is the exact demographic that you would expect: retirement age and looking to change the OE wheels to something that would have been popular in 1970. Just to let you know, cast aluminum mods are not made in 17-inch sizes, but Centerline Wheels (centerlinewheels.com) offers old-school styles like a Gambler or AutoDrag III in a two-piece to create a similar style.

Another option is to offer a 17-inch wheel that resembles the original 1970s style. Where would we find this, you ask? How about Wheel Vintiques (wheelvintiques.com). They can cut a 16- to 18-inch Chrysler Rallye style wheel out of billet aluminum and offer it with custom backside settings.

I will be taking measurements on the OE wheel soon and will let you know how this project turns out.

Considering that the SE model is $8,000 less than the R/T and nearly $20,000 less than an SRT-8, we can offer quite a bit for under $10,000. For instance, Brembo (brembo.com) has just released their newest fitment guide for their GT (Gran Turismo) line of performance brakes.

2009 Challenger brake kits with 4- and 6-piston calipers for V6 and V8 powerplants are available. A quick word of caution here: If you make this upgrade, measure for the X-factor of the wheel needed to clear this larger caliper when you order new wheels.

Also in the new lineup are kits for the 2008 Lexus IS-f, which debuted last year, and the 2008 Infinity G37 Coupe, 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W204) and 2008 Subaru WRX STi. All of these are targeted toward a high performance enthusiast. This is not a consumer who is just barely getting by, so disposable income is typically not an issue.

In addition to the Challenger, the new 2010 Camaro will roll into showrooms in early 2009. Show cars have been shod with 20-inch wheels, but 18×7.5 are slated for the LS model, according to GM. Here is another opportunity for us to take a base model and give it an aggressive staggered fit and big brake upgrade.

Speaking of staggered fitments, TSW (tsw.com) continues to build on its strength of vehicle fitments by offering one of the most comprehensive staggered fitment wheel lines available. The vehicles listed above all work very well with a staggered fitment, except the WRX. Don’t mix sizes on an all-wheel-drive vehicle.

TSW has increased the number of brands to include wheels built specifically for certain vehicles like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Land Rover and Porsche, among others. Look for more styles and custom offset combinations to complement new vehicles like the Audi A5, BMW 1 series and Nissan Skyline. Terence Schecter, president of TSW, has something new up his sleeve for 2009, but wouldn’t divulge what it is. I guess we’ll all have to wait for the December issue to find out.

On the truck side, Alcoa (alcoa.com) has just released three new styles, all one-piece forged aluminum in 20×9, 8-lug applications for 3/4- and 1-ton trucks.

Alcoa isn’t new to the aftermarket wheel industry, but its conservative OE influence for styling has kept the company from capturing much of the market. This new lineup rivals the styles of many popular name brand wheel manufacturers and will certainly put Alcoa on the map.

Each style has a deep lip and comes in both chrome and their proprietary Dura-Bright surface treatment, which is being offered for the first time to the aftermarket. A three-year warranty comes standard on both of these options.

At last year’s SEMA Show, I saw a trend of various colors and aesthetic treatments being used. I expect this year will be more of the same and one company is preparing to launch such a product. According to Diko Sulahian, president of WTW Corp., “Gianelle Designs’ new for 2008 Chameleon wheel is a revolutionary concept in the world of wheels.”

The Chameleon, available in 22 and 24 inches for most popular cars and SUVs, features a unique trio of interchangeable fascias that allow users to change the style of their wheels in minutes. The included 6-, 9- and 18-spoke cap fascias are constructed of chrome or black ABS plastic and are bolted directly to the contrasting chrome or black smooth background wheel for a striking appearance.

“The fascias can be color-matched and when paired with optional Koko Kuture Bezels, the possibilities for personalization are limitless,” Sulahian says.

“We showed you the Bezel system last year, and being able to combine these two unique products allows you to create a one-of-a-kind package.”

To finish off the look, WTW Corp. is also broadening its line of exclusive tires, built by Continental.

“The Giovanna Edition Continental ContiSport Contact 2 line of tires was introduced at 2005’s SEMA Show, making Giovanna the first aftermarket wheel manufacturer to co-brand their own line of tires,” says Sulahian. “The Giovanna Edition CSC2 range began with 265/30R22 and 295/25R22 sizes and grew in the next year to include six more staggered sizes in 19- and 20-inch fitments.

“New for 2008, Giovanna and Continental expanded the lineup with a staggered 21-inch offering. The 265/30R21 and 295/30R21 tires offer the proper load rating and ODs for popular luxury sedans and coupes such as Mercedes S and CL, as well as BMW 6 and 7 series. The 21-inch Giovanna wheel and tire package delivers a balance of size, style and ride quality for everything from Mustangs to Mercedes and everything in between.”

Lexani, which markets its own self-branded tire, just released four new tread patterns. This includes two passenger tires up to 20-inch sizes and two SUV tires offering up to 24-inch diameters. These will replace the previous tread patterns.

For UHP fitments, the L3500 will be offered in 17- through 20-inch fitments and the LX9100 will be offered in 16- to 20-inch sizes. For SUVs, the L4500 will be offered in 22- through 24-inch fitments and the LX9000 will be offered in 20- to 24-inch sizes. Lexani has marketed their tires with exclusive territories in the past.

It will be interesting to see how these two private labels, as well as the aftermarket in general, will fare in the coming year.

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