Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A new (used) set of shoes

This week I picked up a set of wheels for the project! They don't look like much, but I have big plans!

I had originally planned to use a set of racing-spec wheels for the car, but with my change in philosophical direction they just aren't appropriate. They've also been discontinued. What I needed for my tribute was a wheel tire combo that's vintage-looking (185 width wheels with 14" rims), but that will fit my Miata suspension components.

I don't think there's a more appropriate wheel for my car than Minilites. Unfortunately they're hard to come by and astronomically expensive. Chaparral S15s are made specifically for Miatas and look like the real deal, but they're not 14" wheels and they weigh close to 16 lbs.

Enter the OEM 1990-1993 Miata wheel (AKA "daisy"). In keeping with the Miata's retro styling the wheels were made to look substantially similar to the classic British Minilite. The wheels weigh a paltry 12.3 lbs and are easy to come by in case I hit a curb. They're also super-cheap if you're patient. I scored the entire set including (badly) used tires, center caps and lug nuts for $40.

Speaking of tires, those crappers are more than good enough to roll the chassis around on and perhaps to make a quick jaunt to the tire store. I know that by the time I need them they'll be toast, but they'll do the job until the car is road-worthy.

As for the wheels themselves, I'm going to clean them up and paint the centers a medium grey. I also plan on polishing the rim. I think they're going to look sweet!

Keith Tanner uses a set of painted OEM Miata wheels on his 7. He has a good write-up on the process on his web site starting here.

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