Real Rodder Wheels for Elmer
Wheels and tires, for me, are a little bit of an obsession. I blame my father. In the early years of my childhood, I hung out with dad in his rod shop/dealership “The Old Car Co.”. One of the first things he’d do when a new acquisition would arrive in the stable is to change the wheels and tires. Also, more often than not, he would lower it too. Swapping sets back and forth between vehicles, one set of wheels might cycle through as many 8-10 cars before he was satisfied with where they fit and looked best.
Such a simple change can completely alter the attitude of any vehicle. It’s also one of the factors that make one car more appealing than another. Many people can’t put a finger on why they like one car versus another, very similar car. That’s where stance and wheels usually win the day.
Being painted a solid color, with relatively mild aesthetic modifications makes this Chevelle project a perfect candidate for a total about-face with a wheel and tire change. I actually went into the project aiming to be able to interchange wheels and tires with my Sedan Delivery. That’s part of the reason I decided to narrow the rear end slightly to fit a 10” wheel with 3.75”-4.5” of backspacing. My original thought was to be able to run my set of American Racing 200S wheels on the Chevelle. I really, really like my daisy spokes in the 4.5” & 10” stagger. To me, they are one of the best 70’s era wheels.
That was before I began to research Real Rodder’s Wheels a few years ago. Styled after the classic Halibrand Sprint wheels popularized in the ’60s and early ’70s on Sprint and other race cars. These are a style of wheel that was always one of my Dad’s favorites on other people’s hot rods. Unfortunately, they were always too expensive for him to justify buying a set.
When I ordered my set to try them out I opted for the “easy care” finish. Which is like chrome plating but has a slight gold cast to it, replicating the look of polished magnesium. At the end of the day, that option proved to be cost-prohibitive for production runs of these and they were eventually offered in fully polished and “Retro” Grey painted centers with machined lips. I also opted to have a set of our rear, center delete plates coated to match.
Test fitting confirmed that they were an A1 fit for the Chevelle. Even with 12” brakes and extremely tight requirements on the rear.
Then they went back into the boxes as I went to work on other things on the car and at the office. We eventually put together a program with Real Rodder and offered these sizes in two bolt patterns and finishes.
Early in the Spring last year I finally broke down and put disc brakes on the Sedan Delivery. The temptation was too strong to try out the fronts while the nose was up in the air. It was so good, I had to mount up the whole set. With a set of 155SR15 fronts and 255/70R15 rears it gave the delivery “that look”. Such a timeless wheel design, I will definitely need to get them on the Chevelle at least for a little while. I don’t think I could picture the Delivery with anything else on it now though.
I can’t help but think that Dad would approve as well.