The Top 10 Coolest Wheel Manufacturers on Earth
One of the fastest and easiest ways to make almost any vehicle cooler is to fit it with a set of aftermarket wheels. Yes, even the most mundane transportation appliances under the sun can be endowed with new found sex appeal simply by slapping on some new hoops. However, there’s a little bit more to it than that…
For one, you would be wise to select a wheel manufacturer that a) produces good looking, quality products, and b) has at least a sprinkling of street cred. But instead of looking for such manufacturers on your own, why not just look at this list of 10 highly-fashionable, highly-desirable wheel companies we’ve compiled? No, please, don’t thank us; just keep reading.
In 1970, Heinrich Baumgartner and Klaus Brand established a high performance and racing wheel company in the German town of Schiltach. They derived the name of the company from the first letter of their two surnames and the first letter of the city’s name: BBS. More than four decades later, the company is one of the most recognizable and popular manufacturer of not just aftermarket wheels, but also wheels it supplies to automakers. And while it makes numerous designs other than the classic Super RS with its tightly-spaced, almost mesh-like spoke pattern, it’s arguably the design that put BBS on the map (and vice versa).
Maybe it’s because they’re American made, and we’ve actually been to their factory, but we’re quite fond of HRE Wheels. Of course, even if we didn’t have firsthand knowledge of their production facility and all the quality control measures they take, we’d still be smitten with HRE’s wide variety of clean, purposeful single- and multi-piece offerings. All that inside dope is just icing on the cake; a forged, CNC-machined, TÜV-approved cake…
Japan is home to many wheel manufacturers, but few have been in business as long as Enkei. The company itself dates all the way back to 1950, and since then has established itself as one of the island nation’s top makers of OEM and aftermarket rims. And the designs of those aftermarket rims range from thoroughly modern (for tuners, VIP and trucks/SUVs) to old school cool (for 1970s and ‘80s J-tin).
Florida-based ADV.1 may be one of the newest high-end wheel makers, but it’s also one of the most impressive. With 12 styles and multiple finish, offset and lip configurations of each available, there’s probably a foursome you’ll want on your ride. And for further customization, ADV.1 also offers numerous accessories (including titanium fasteners and center caps), as well as custom machining like spoke pocketing. Not even Burger King offers this much choice!
If you’re VIP-ifying a big Japanese or German luxury sedan and aren’t at least considering a set of wheels from Wald International, then you probably ought to get a CT scan to make sure everything’s hunky-dory between your ears. Sure, the Japanese firm’s body and trim components get plenty of praise, but Wald’s wheels are wondrous works of art. Whether you’re talking about the airy Renovatio, the imposing, retro-inspired Aufzählen, or some other line, you’re talking about rolling stock that will make any modified luxury car buff stop and take notice.
Italians are known for having an impeccable sense of style. This sense of style tends to manifest itself in the peninsular nation’s automotive wheel companies, including OZ Racing. Formed in 1971 by Silvano Oselladore and Pietro Zen (hence the name OZ), the company has produced striking rims for thousands upon thousands of road and racing customers. Whether you need a wheel supplier for your Formula 1 team, custom alloys sized specifically for your smart fortwo, or something in between, OZ Racing definitely deserves a look.
Sometimes, you want an aftermarket wheel with a stock-ish look. Many manufacturers offer wheels that fit that description, but few of them pull it off as well as Vossen does. However, if you want rollers that are clear departures from the ones installed at the factory, the Florida-based firm offers many of those, too. We’re rather partial to the VVS086 with the matte black trim.
It might be our connections to Orange County talking, but we (and more than 158,000 Facebook users) are fond of Westminster, California’s own Rotiform wheels. The company – established just four years ago by Brian Henderson and Jason Whipple – is a real up-and-comer in the industry, and with an eclectic mix of designs and finishes, why wouldn’t it be? Their wheels seem to be most popular with the Euro-tuner crowd, but many of their wares look right at home on Japanese cars, exotics, stanced vehicles, and more. It’s often said that products with broad appeal cease to be cool, but Rotiform is the exception that proves the rule.
Avant Garde Wheels
As its name implies, Avant Garde Wheels likes to push the boundaries when it comes to aftermarket wheel design. So this company is cool because of that, right? Well, yeah, but it’s also cool because it respects tradition; its BBS mesh and Fuchs 5-spoke tributes are dy-no-mite!
Okay, we’re cheating a little bit with this last one, because Rays is actually the maker of multiple brands: Volk Racing (high-performance forged wheels), Gram Lights (stylish and light cast wheels), Black Fleet (classy cast and forged offerings for the VIP crowd), and more. But really, with such a big product portfolio for a broad range of clientele, you’re bound to find a wheel made by this Japanese outfit that you consider to be cool. Perhaps that makes Rays coolest of all…