One of the most inconvenient truths about tuner culture is that certain parts either become too rare and expensive or obsolete as time goes by. Nowhere is this more inconvenient than aftermarket or OEM wheels that are too small by modern standards. This could come in the form of them not working with certain modern aesthetic trends, not being able to fit over modern brakes, or just not being able to find tires for them. The latter practically renders them obsolete. Enthusiasts have to source low-production, bespoke sizes from specialty companies, assuming they’re in stock, if they can even find the right size.
As a response to these issues, one creative problem-solver on Instagram named Oemsplits is dedicated to giving iconic old-school wheels a new lease on life by putting them under the knife and upsizing them.
This kills two birds with one stone, as they take wheels that used to be 13-inch or 14-inch and cutting them up to become multi-piece 15-inch and 16-inch wheels. Multi-piece wheels are different from a normal cast or flow-formed alloy, known as a single piece, as they’re several pieces that are bolted and sealed together.
Generally, as long as precision machining practices are followed, this doesn’t seem to be an issue when it comes to producing a safe and structurally sound wheel. I imagine it helps to utilize older OEM wheels due to their sheer mass, and I’d bet green money that 14-inch wheels from the ’80s are heavier than 15-inch wheels nowadays. This means there’s plenty of meat to drill into to mount up rings to upsize them.
It seems like there are two ways to do this. The first is to cut off the inner and outer rims, drill into them, and mount up larger rings. The second method is to cut just the face off, bolt it up to a newer barrel, and then bolt new rings on, all with precision machining tools, of course, and making sure everything will nicely balance out. To ensure there aren’t any leaks, multi-piece wheels need to be properly sealed, as well. Again, as long as everything’s done with precision and care, it looks to be a successful strategy.
This is from a different source, but a great example nonetheless: old Pontiac wheels on a more recent VW Polo:
And it all looks so cool. These old wheels can be cleaned up and reused to be the cherry on top of an awesome build, and plus, multi-piece wheels usually look really cool on just about anything. As someone who used to be knee-deep in old-school Volkswagen (VW) tuning, it’s awesome to see Pirelli P-slots, VW Snowflakes, tiny Mk1 VW Rabbit alloys, and even Ronal Teddys (famously known as Bears) upsized to not only look cool, but also fit much more common modern tire sizes. I love a clean, original-looking Mk1 GTI as much as the next guy. But if I had one, I can’t say I’d be game for balloony 14-inch wheels with a miniscule 185-mm-or-narrower width. Grip is good.
This account is also an excellent jump-off point for learning about rare, rad old-school wheels. I’m a total nerd for all of this stuff, but even I couldn’t recall if I’d ever seen Exip Megas before. This means that one could mount up very old wheels on much newer cars, too. I bet my Mazda2 would look so good on a lot of these wheels. In fact, I’d absolutely love to have a set of Ronal R8s upsized to 15-inch on it because the Mazda2 is essentially just a Mk2 Golf 5-door with electric power steering and modern safety tech. Econobox vibes, beam suspension, and all.
There’s no school like the old school, especially when it comes to small car styling.
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