APPARENTLY unboxing videos are now a thing online. Iíve never watched one. Seems to me, if itís not me getting the presents, Iím not actually all that interested. And as for tuning in to watch some Trekkie breathlessly unboxing their latest action figure, well, thatíd just make me doubt the human raceís credentials even more. But if I was ever to do my own unboxing vid, it would have been last week when the wheels for the Brown Bomber turned up on a courier truck I agonised for a few weeks a while ago over which direction to take when it came to wheels for the hillclimber. Obviously, budget is a concern, so I was thinking maybe widened, stock 14-inch steelies. Till I worked out how heavy theyíd be. Then, I mentally moved on to maybe a set of early HSV rims which would give me a better choice in rubber. Problem there was that not all the wheels available had the correct offset for a slightly lowered VC Commodore and it also seemed that the people who owned these wheels wanted real cash to part with them.
Weíre talking enough real cash here to land a set of brand-new rims, anyway.
So thatís the direction I ultimately went in. Now, nothing says race-car to me more than Superlite wheels.
Made by Performance Wheels Australia in 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16-inch fitments, these are the sexy, eight-spoke jobs that look like a grown-up Minilite from a Cooper S. Youíll see them on everything from classic road cars, clubspec hillclimbers (like mine) all the way up to the Camaros, Firebirds and Mustangs battling it out in the Australian Trans Am Series. As well as strong and relatively light (less than 7kg according to my bathroom
scales) the eight-spoke thing allows lots of air to get to the brakes.
I talked with the folks at Performance Wheels Australia and we agreed that going to a 15-inch rim would give me more choice in tyres (over a 14-incher) as well as not ruining the VCís gearing. And to be honest, I didnít need to go bigger than 15 inches, because Iím not running monster brakes.
So, there are no caliper clearance issues and, as we all know, a 15-inch wheel and tyre combo is always going to be lighter than the equivalent 18-inch combo.
The other piece of advice, though, was not to go too crazy on width; going too wide would make the car tram-track a lot more and wouldnít necessarily have given me more grip where and when I needed it. This is not a drag-car, after all.
And besides, by messing about with offsets, I could still increase the track at each end without resorting to a nine-inch rim and then getting into trouble with guard or strut clearance. So, 15 X 7s with a 25mm offset, it was.
When you see these things in the flesh, you get an appreciation of the quality of them. The machined surfaces are gorgeous and the casting is just lovely.
Their lightness means Iíll save a bit of unsprung weight. But itís also true that, of all the things Iíve done to this old Commodore, bolting the Superlites will make the biggest visual impact in terms of turning an elderly, brown road-car to a proper race-car.
For tyres, itís going to come down to finding an R-spec hoop that isnít going to break the bank. There are plenty of choices out there, but Iím starting by talking to the right people.
And this is where it pays to shop locally. For a couple of decades, my local tyre shop, Widetread Tyres in Ferntree Gully, has been my go-to place for round, black things. And because I have a relationship with the guys that run the place, they were happy to ring around for me to find me a set of 225/50 15s at the best price. Iím waiting to hear back from them as I write this. Thing is, I could spend the next fortnight searching for tyres online not really knowing what Iím looking at and either not finding them, or paying too much. Think about it, and donít just assume that the online deal is the best one.
Iíll let you know which way I jump.