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Project Chevelle: Wheels and Tires Tech Article

5/30/2018
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Every article that has ever been written about wheels and tires starts with some version of the same old phrase: "There's nothing you can do to your car that makes a bigger difference than wheels and tires." We know this. We've been there and done that. Yet here we are, and we're once again amazed at just how true it really is.

Project Chevelle came to us equipped with the stock 14x6 rallys complete with 205/75 tires, whitewalls out of course. It looked very polite and friendly, like an upstanding citizen. But we're on a mission to make this car into a formidable performance machine, not a good neighbor. We want it to look like it might just steal your wallet if you catch it in a bad mood.

Goodbye little wheels. The 14x6 rallys have served this car for 46 years, but they're not going to cut it for what we have in mind.

To get us there, we could have gone in a lot of different directions. We have parts on the shelf to make it a big brake, big wheel pro touring car. We could throw slicks on the back and little pizza cutters on the front and make it over into a drag only beast. In the end, since this car is so authentically 1972, we decided to amplify that vibe with some 15-inch mags, just like we would have done in the 70's.

With that decided, we hit up Rocket Racing Wheels for a set of their Fuel wheels. These wheels come in gray, chrome, and polished. Project Chevelle isn't really a chrome and polish kind of guy, so gray it is. As for sizing, we chose 15x7's for the front and 15x8 in the rear. It's worth noting that Rocket offers these 8 inch wide wheels in two different offsets, one with 3.75 inches of backspace and another with 4.5 inches. We determined that the 4.5 inchers perfectly fit the meats on the back of the Chevelle.

Rocket Racing Wheels provided a set of their Fuel wheels, which look like they could have rolled right out of the 1970's.

As for tires, we were after an aggressive rubber rake, so that meant jamming the biggest tire we could in the rear wheel well. A 275/60 BF Goodrich Radial T/A slides in perfectly with no cutting or rolling of the fender lip. In the front, a 225/70 fits comfortably and the tall sidewall fills the wheel well nicely when viewed from the side.

We also chose to use the bullet lug nuts that Rocket offers. Say what you want to about the bullet shape, the appeal here is that the hex size is 11/16". In our experience, the lug nut pocket that is machined into the wheel can be a bit small if you're trying to jam a 13/16" socket in there to tighten or loosen the lugs, but an 11/16" fits with room to spare.

Rocket's bullet lug nuts make it possible to fit an 11/16" impact socket into the recess in the wheel. And they look cool.
A wheel and tire swap also offers instant gratification. It took us about 5 minutes to drastically alter the personality of Project Chevelle.

As you can imagine, this went together pretty quickly and before we knew it, we were looking at a transformed Chevelle. We added about 500 visual horsepower to a 150 horsepower car. It looks like a muscle car now, not a grocery getter.

That's a little more like it.

As these things go, one thing leads to another. The wheels and tires look awesome, but the car is now begging to be lowered a bit. Stay tuned as the next phase in our transformation brings us a little closer to the ground.

Wheel and tire swap done, Project Chevelle really wants to be lowered now. And we definitely need to add a little power to back up the new attitude.

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