Sleek, sparkling wheel rims power a $3.1 billion aftermarket industry

Analog

Lifer
Jan 7, 2002
12,755
1
0
We write today in honor of chrome. We write of the lowly car tire elevated to art form. Of P. Diddy and designer wheels, of Shaq and the $40,000, 24-inch Superman set of spokes on which his la fabulousness glides.

We write today of rims.

We write of the formerly unremarkable steel or aluminum cylinders which, when bolted onto a grimy axle, support your tires. A hundred years, they make cars in Detroit and everywhere else and most people didn't think too much about rims, which usually were plain old utilitarian wheels--so ugly that you hid them with hubcaps.

What idiots.

Today rims are a $3.1 billion industry that stands at the revolving heart of two American obsessions: automobiles and finding ever more expensive ways to buy things you already have and don't need. Turning a 50-cent cup of coffee into a $4.25 triple latte: That's what makes this country great, and don't you forget it, sister.

Hamid Ahmadi understands this and he wasn't even born in this country. Ahmadi, 42, fled his home town of Kabul to escape the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Today he runs Big Boys Toys in Oxon Hill, Md., a flat-out fabulous red, yellow and black testament to the terminally automotive hip. Every week somebody comes in and drops $4,475 for a set of 24-inch Omega spinners.

And people say this country is going to hell in a handbasket.

``We have 400 different models in stock,'' Ahmadi is saying in the back storeroom, where tires and rims are stacked in long, profit-rich rows. ``I want my customers to be able to feel, touch, smell the product before they buy it. We don't make you wait, either. You buy it, we mount them on the car in an hour, hour and a half if we're busy.''

Bling. Instant gratification. Chrome on your car for no damn reason. This place is more American than Hooters.

The rims explosion is not, we stress, anything like your gearhead Uncle Kevin working on the GTO out back. Nor is it your Springsteen '69 Chevy with a 396, Fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor. Gearheads are into performance, speed and technology.

People who drop money for rims--let's say Patrick Williams, right here in Big Boys, picking up a $2,000 set of Vision 20-inchers on his new Yukon--are not gearheads. They do not get their fingernails dirty. They watch the big, flat-screen up front and take calls while Abdul Basir and the fellas in the back put on the rims, polish them and the tires and pull it back out front for you to admire, sitting there on the leather couch.

``We're a full-service shop,'' Ahmadi says.

``Rims are the big thing now,'' says Williams, an engineer for the federal government.

``Rims are more of a fashion statement rather than an automotive one,'' says Peter MacGillivray of the Specialty Equipment Market Association, the California-based agency that promotes and tracks the $31 billion after-market car modification industry. ``People have really bought into the idea that their car is a reflection of themselves, their personality.'' http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0506/04/autos-203590.htm
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
17,643
731
126
Have you ever seen Unique whips on the speed channel? They went to a show, I think it was Sema, where they had a $250,000 set of rims. They had jewels on them, and were just crazy.
 

Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
17,643
731
126

Colt45

Lifer
Apr 18, 2001
19,721
1
0
Rims affect performance to some extent.. you dont see good handling cars with 13" rims w/ 70 series rubber.. too much roll

but yeah. the big gay chrome SUV stuff is weak
 

cavemanmoron

Lifer
Mar 13, 2001
13,664
28
91
i like the steel "Mag"
wheels that were used on the factory cars in the 60's-80's

LOL they are much more reasonably priced.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,872
4,216
126
I think they are WMDs and should be blasted by mortar fire whenever spotted.
 

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