So what wheels look best on a Beetle?
I am sure every enthusiast will give you a different answer, and each will have a long story to go with it. So I am going to answer my own question and give you my long story that goes with it. Ready?
As with all my automotive related tastes, they have evolved over time. What I like today is completely different from my youth. Gone are the days of anything extreme and too over the top. I still love modified Beetles, but I am not a fan of anything that is not reversible or kills the spirit of the car. What that leads up to is what many call "Period Correct" modification. For Project #Super71 I was searching far and wide for what I think would be the baest looking set of wheels that were not over the top and period correct. In addition, I always like like to have some type of story or history tied to them.Before you can pick what wheels would look best on your Bug, you need get a good idea of what colour you plan on painting your piece of history. Again, this is all personal preference, but the combination between your paint and rims will pretty much determine the overall look and feel of your Beetle. These are usually the first two things someone sees. I personally like some contrast so I like a darker wheel on a light colour car and something brighter on a bark paint job.
Since at this point in time I am planning on painting Project #Super71 Tunis Yellow I have been looking for a set of rims that have a black centre. EMPI 8-Spokes are fine, but everyone and their uncle has those, plus I just used them on my last project. Most 4-bolt rims don't look as nice as their 5-bolt counter parts so I was considering going with a stock black steel rim with a white painted hoop, and a stock Chrome VW cap in the centre. The only difference would be I would go with a 5.5" wide rim with some more aggressive rubber installed. I was pretty much set on this setup until I priced it all up and found I could get some fancier aluminum rims for the same price.
So I started looking online for some examples of yellow or lighter coloured VW's from the 1970's that have period correct custom wheels. I also had to make sure the set of wheels look good on a Super Beetle. Not all wheels that look slick on a standard Beetle translate over to the 1302 and 1303's. All my online research pointed me to one set of wheels that covered all my requirements... The EMPI Sprint Star!
The EMPI Sprint Star was an aftermarket performance rim that became available in the late 1960's and popular in the 1970's. EMPI produced the rim in several different widths. This made them not only a great custom wheel for your Beetle, but a fantastic way to customize your 1970's Dune Buggy. The original version of the Sprint Star was an extra strong chrome plated steel rim with a black panted centre. Today these iconic rims are now being reproduced from aluminium and are available through many online part retailers including CIP.
So these rims really started to grow on me but I wasn't 100% sure it was what I was looking for... until I was browsing through the earliest photos I have of my 1971 Super Beetle. Low and behold... When my mechanic and I received the car in 1996 it was already fitted with a set of original Chrome Sprint Stars. The rims were in rough shape and we didn't know what we had at the time, so they were sold as-is at the K&W Bug Out the same year. This was a sign and I knew for sure that I MUST purchase a new set of these iconic period correct wheels for my 1302 SB.
So getting back to answering the initial question... the Sprint Star has become the rim of choice for Project #Super71 and has worked its way into top spot as my favourite VW Beetle rims... for now ;)
UPDATE: I just ordered 2 of the 4 rims after selling my old set of wheels. That money goes right back into the project.
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