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Vintage Car and Truck Wheels

You've taken great care of your car or truck and are ready to take it to the vintage car shows. Before going, take a look at your rims, tires, and lugs of the car's wheels to make sure they're ready to go the distance. When it's time to put some new wheels on your car, take a look and find a set that matches your vehicle's style.

What are the differences between the wheels' rim structures?

When choosing your new wheels for the vehicle, you'll want to find the proper rim structure for your car or truck. The options include:

  • 1-piece - Casting this rim takes place using only one mold. This creates the option for a single finish through the entire rim.
  • 2-piece - Wheels with the double rim use a separate mold for the center than the outer portion. The sections are then put together. This allows for differences in color and finishes.
  • 3-piece - This rim structure for trucks is cast using three separate molds, allowing for three unique finishes. These are rare due to level of manufacturing required.
How do you determine your wheel's proper size?

Depending on the state you live in, you may need to use the exact size tire as the original manufacturer used for your car or truck. If the size information on the current wheel is worn off, you can determine the wheel's size by:

  • Width - In order to find the first number in your tire's size, measure the width of the tire in millimeters.
  • Sidewall ratio - The second number is this ratio. You'll measure from the tread to the top of the rim using millimeters. This is the section height. To find the ratio, you'll take the section height and divide it by the width.
  • Diameter - The final number in the size is the diameter of the rims. Simply measure one end of the rim to the other in inches. Common diameter sizes of rims for cars and small trucks are 14, 15, and 16 inches.
How do you find the bolt pattern?

You'll use the lug nuts on the wheels to determine your car or truck's bolt pattern. With the original tire still attached and the lugs on:

  • Count the lugs - Most wheels for cars and trucks will have either four, five, or six lug nuts.
  • Measure in millimeters - If your truck or car wheels have an even number of lug nuts, you'll measure the distance from one nut to the lug nut directly across from it. If odd, measure from the center of one lug to the center of the one next to it.
  • Determine the size - Once you have the distances, a conversion table can find the inches, which will be the bolt pattern size for your wheels, however big.
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