Wheels Make the Ride: Part II

My fascination with wheels continues this week in a brief overview of how the wheels can make or break the ride. In nearly all cases, by the time the concept car hits the streets, the wheels have been reduced to roller skate wheels with hubcaps. I understand that in some cases, I am showing special editions or sport editions next to base models. The special editions should get special wheels, but raise the bar. Anything less than a well designed, properly sized wheel only brings down the entire car to mediocrity.


Wheels make the Ride

The wrong wheels on a car can have a huge impact on the over all look of a car. The right wheels really set if off. There have been rare successes of OEM wheels doing the trick. Here are some pictures of my favorite wheels. I can't bring myself to make a top 10 list because I know I've forgotten a few. Feel free to sound off on the ones I've left out.

BMW 325is Basketweave Wheels. Weaves have been on so many cars, but they look best on a bimmer. I should note that I drive an 88 325is with basketweaves. I'm a bit partial.

Lamborghini Countach - I just love how deep those rear wheels are. This is the only car I ever drew in the fourth grade.

1963 Ferrari 250 classic wire wheels with tri bar knock offs. Wire wheels were on plenty of sportscars in the day, but none wore them like this Ferrari.

late 80s Corvette. I think they call these "sawblades." Very iconic.

1977 Trans-Am with the two tone "snowflake" wheels. Smokey and the Bandit!

Classic Porsche 911 Carrera. Rocking black wheels with a polished lip for over 30 years.

Alpina wheels on a sexy BMW 635csi back when 17 inch wheels were HUGE!!


Jaguar XF

This is the 2009 Jaguar XF. I'm not an expert on Jaguars, but I do know enough that it's not pronounced (Jag-wire) as many Americans pronounce it, the Jaguar E-type is one of the sexiest cars ever, and this car looks more like a Chrysler Sebring than a Jaguar.

It's not a bad looking car, but really, this is what the Chrysler Sebring should have looked like. While just about everything says "luxury sedan," nothing about this car says "Jaguar" to me. Whether it's the X-type or the S-type, the Jaguar sedans have always had 4 headlights, and the coupes have always had a wide narrow grille like the classic and iconic E-type. So any Jag you've ever seen has had the design cues that make it unmistakably, a Jaguar. Until this one.

Proper Jaguars can be seen below.


2010 Mustang Images Released

I don't normally blog during lunch, but I just couldn't wait to post this. We've waited a long time and endured many teaser photos, and finally today, I got my hands on it. Not literally. I mean, I don't get to test drive one. I'd like to. Just sayin'. Ford didn't send me these photos. I'm not on the inside. I got these photos from Jalopnik.

I'm debating on whether or not to comment on it yet. I like to see cars in the flesh, and even then, I like to chew on it for a bit. Maybe this post should just be for your viewing pleasure. Well okay, I'll throw out a few of my first thoughts.

I think this is a great progression from the current design. Changes of note: Check out the rear quarter panel arches, the rear tail lights, and the lack of a hard lined arch around the wheels. I like the turn signals tucked in next to the head lights, and I like how the top of the lights are all "cut off" for a more menacing look. The newest Mustang has taken a step away from being "retro," but not away from it's heritage.

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione - I Heart Italians

This Alfa Romeo Competizione is a 2007 model, but just recently, the first one to make it to U.S. soil was sold.

The Alfa Romeo Competizione is a fine example of Italian Design. It has the kind of shape that we all drew when we were kids. Mine always looked like an early eighties Corvette. Always. But Wolfgang Egger was able to take the classic high wheel arches and a small canopy behind a long bonnet and make it really sexy in an Alfa Romeo kind of way.I've always liked Alfas, but no one is on the fence when it comes to the shield style grille.

I have one major critisism. Why does the front of the car get a separate bulb for every possible lighting function, ie. low beam, high beam, turn signal, fog lights, while the back gets just one round light. Where is the turn signal? Okay, the single light can act as a light, brake light, and a turn signal. But the reverse light? It's tucked down near the bottom, only balanced by the bright red rear fog/anti-crash light. Did they pick those up at Autozone? I think the reverse light could have been incorporated into the center like the Ford GT. It certainly deserved more consideration than what was given to them. I do actually really like the "afterburner" led tail lights.

The Alfa is distinctively Italian. An instant classic. Well, come to think of it, The 8C was almost a classic before it even got here. The concept appeared in 2003, but it wasn't until this month that one finally sold in the U.S.

Welcome to the States.

Special Edition Camaro at SEMA

I've noted before that I'm not a huge fan of the new Camaro. I'll use this opportunity to mention that I'm not a fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. or NASCAR in general. Enter the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Edition Camaro being shown at SEMA. I love it.

Subtle aesthetic tweaks really enhance the Camaro. I love the two tone paint. The chisled edges separating the top from the rest of the car makes for a perfect opportunity for a two tone paint job. It's really a comfortable break, and there really aren't that many cars that can pull off a two tone paint job. The special edition grille should really be put on every single new Camaro. Hopefully this grille will be made available by the aftermarket. Immediately. The rest of the ground effects kit is subtle as well, but is just enough to muscle up the car. Something that the production model doesn't have enough of.

If you want to see the other three SEMA concpets and other specs please go check out for more details. Thanks Adam.


Cadillac CTS

A few years back, Cadillac's commercials featured a Led Zeppelin tune that reminded their core customer exactly how old they are. Maybe it was an attempt to take them back to their youth. A time that they would want nothing to do with a Cadillac.

Enter the new CTS. It seems to be a reasonable design progression from the previous design, but this car finally offered something truly new and exciting instead of predictable. New in a classic caddy kind of way.

I think Cadillac has truly done a great job of designing an American car. Big chrome and vertical fins. Sound familiar? Look familiar? I'm not saying this is a retro design, but this Cadillac is created from the same DNA that made American cars from the 50s and 60s classics today.


Vanilla gets all the toppings!

The Honda Accord has long been a vanilla car. It has never been offensive, but it's never been the topic of conversation. The new Accord sedan is no exception. Ah, but the coupe has caught my eye. The coupe has always been marginally better looking. Vanilla, but with sprinkles. This time around, it gets all the toppings.

The new Honda Accord coupe finally looks like a coupe, rather than a sedan with less headroom in the back seat. The body sits in a forward rake, with accentuated character lines lifting the back of the car. All of the lines lead your eyes to the back, which is the best angle to view the car from. Too often is the rear neglected in the design process. The wheels fill out the wheel wells appropriately and proportionately. Finally, I like how the headlights aggressively wrap around onto the front quarter panels without appearing too big and without housing an offensive amount of chrome.

The only thing that misses, is the front grille. Honda could have looked only as far as their own luxury brand and brought in a resemblance to the Acura TL front grille to make the new Accord really come together. Even without a nice smile, the Honda Accord coupe steps up along side the Infinity G35 coupe and Nissan Altima coupe as a tasty two door sports sedan.

Chysler Sebring

I like to hand it to Chrysler for taking risks. Their cars are certainly not bland. They don't always hit their mark, but they like to go for the gold. This is an example of neither going for the gold, or hitting the mark. If you don't aim high, then you can't miss.

I really don't know where to start, except the first thing that makes me want to scratch my eyes out is the execution of the convertible top. If there's ever been a car that looks like it was designed as a hardtop first, and a convertible as an after thought, this is it.

Then I forget all about the roof when I see those grooves in the hood, that may have looked good once on a concept car back in 2000.

When the top is down, it hides nicely under a beautifully sculpted, well proportioned rear trunk lid. But since they couldn't leave well enough alone, they put the antenna right in the middle. If it was any larger, you might confuse it for a life size radio controlled car.

I must say that I like the interior quite a bit. Judging by the number of these I see out on the road, the interior must make up for the entire rest of the car, but who would be willing to approach this hideous thing to find out?


A Pirate's car? Toyota YAAARis

My first post about the Aveo drew a comparison to the Yaris from a commenter, so naturally, I needed to follow up. Unlike the Aveo, I think this car has a lot of personality. Can a bug have a personality?

To design a car that looks like a bug and still expect people to drive it, you can't mess anything up. You start with a good stance. Check. You couldn't shove those wheels any further out if you tried. Make it sporty. Check. The car has a serious forward rake, which is accentuated by the angle of the rear lift gate, and the wheels are a good stock size. All the movement lines curve towards the front of the car helping the car move while it's standing still. Check out the lines that move down the hood and wrap the grill, and the sill line that dives forward below the level of the hood. The wheel wells have a respectable amount of flare too. My favorite little detail here is the Toyota badge on the front grill. Below the oval T, there is a cutout in the lower part of the grill that matches the curve of the badge as if it's opening its mouth. This car is nothing short of goofy looking. Seriously. It looks like it was designed at Disney. The proportions are very cartoon like.

Now that I think about it, I think the Toyota Yaris should star in a movie opposite Johnny Depp (there's that pirate reference that you all have been waiting for.) Maybe it would make a random beeps that only Johnny Depp could understand. You know, like R2D2? Oh, just imagine the trouble those two could get themselves into.