CULTURE: GENUINE WHEELS DEBATE

– Words: Devin Yaltirakli. Photos: MJ Digital.

Try this one for nostalgia – how long has it been since you first opened up a brand new Hot4s Magazine and spent the first 20 minutes browsing, say, Taleb Tyres’ advertisement on the opening page? I remember I’d have a look at all the ‘in’ wheel brands like Alba, Verde, Dolce, Incubus & Zenetti and think.. These are the absolute business; when I get my first car, this is exactly what I’m gonna have it sitting on. Cut springs, fart cannon, clear taillights – the lot.


Nowadays, the trend of dinner plate chromies has very nearly succumbed to extinction and is only being kept alive by people that are arguably stuck in the late 90s/early 00s period of car modding culture. Today’s buzzwords include fitment, genuine, unsprung weight and the most controversial of all, stance. I love me some serious wheel porn, so when names along the lines of O.Z., Volk, Work, SSR, Rotiform, BBS, Ronal or CCW are mentioned – well, I go a little weak at the knees and have that same fizzing feeling in the groinal region James May keeps mentioning, much to Clarkson’s disgust.

One of the most common and proven adages is that wheels make or break a car; the right selection transforms what is otherwise run of the mill into something spectacular, astonishing and even game-changing – when, before the All Stars/ZEN Maloo, did you last see Professor SP1s on a Holden? Not to mention, pulled off so goddamn well? Exactly my point. The wheel industry of the world acknowledges this by continuously pumping out wheels of the prettiest design, best technical specifications and highest strength/quality imaginable. Wheels have become the hottest commodity in the aftermarket parts world and rightly so; when done right, their impact is second to none.

So when it comes to the retailers of the wheel industry, I have to commend those involved on a stellar job. There’s a sense of pride involved when you operate a business which does nothing but serve the absolute best in these drool-worthy goodies to folks that are eager to represent their amazing advancements. Outfits like Garage 88, who now have the widest range of Japanese wheels on display in Australia, are the medium between a wheel being produced, sent over here, shod in rubber & hitting the road. It’s good for the manufacturers as it means their products are obviously attractive, it’s good for the retailers as it reinforces their status as a company with value, and it sure as hell is fantastic for the consumer because their car ends up looking ridiculously schmick. (I vow to never say ‘schmick’ again.. I’ll let this one slide, so you can laugh at my impeccable word choice.)

That being said, and I’m only going to be touching on this briefly for now, there’s another dilemma that needs to be addressed: fake stuff verse real stuff. The long-standing dispute between paying the price for genuine quality and being able to indulge in replicated versions for a fraction of the money has always plagued the car scene, but in recent years a massive emergence of replica wheels has sent keyboard-bashing levels through the roof. While both sides of the argument do have their pros and cons, I need to focus on this clash of interests from a very particular point of view. Hear me out, if you will, and decide for yourself whether my moral compass is pointing in the right direction or not.

I, as a Management graduate and long-standing vital part of my family business, am conditioned to approach the great debate with the scrutiny of a business minded person. That means having to consider the great care a certain business takes into either manufacturing or retailing a high quality product and the subsequent damage that a cheaper copy can have on said business & their reputation. When you see a set of VORK RAVS on a car and think to yourself “this looks acceptable enough to buy into, rather than paying double the money for a genuine set”, it hurts the guys that make sure us enthusiasts are being served properly. While I have long defended the position of folk who rock replica wheels (i.e. why should they be excluded from the car scene if their passion is still the same as ours?) it is also undeniable that there’s a bunch of collateral damage done in the process. Personally, I know that my own little insignificant opinion isn’t going to bring about any transformations, so I’m not trying to swing the debate in either direction. I just don’t want to see too much more irreversible damage done to an industry which has an endless amount of potential to thrive off.

Despite imitation being depicted as the sincerest form of flattery, we as a unit need to do our best to maintain our support for the guys that do it properly. The insane hours and funds put into R&D alone make the real thing just that little bit worth the price tag over the copycat item. Not to mention supporting the crowd that puts in an equal measure of time making sure this stuff is even readily available to us here in Australia, a land we have long known to be 5 steps behind most of the world in every regard, ever!

As an end note I’d like to reiterate the point that I’m a car enthusiast and modifier to the bone; it’s been that way forever and no matter how much strife the VR6 gives me, it’ll stay that way. I do my bit to support every part of the community (another buzz word really, but I’ll allow it) and this includes the guys that make parts availability even slightly possible. It’s a headache and a half for me, and I can’t begin to imagine what it’d be like having to organise this stuff multiple times a day, on a day to day basis. Big ups to everyone involved, if I was enough of a douchebag to wear a fedora it would be tipped in your direction good sirs!

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15 Comments

  1. It’s all about quality vs quantity, so I’ll leave two lines of advice.

    Buy cheap, pay twice.

    Do it once, do it right!

  2. I think there is a grey line replica’s which imitate (pretend to be quality brands) and replica’s which copy a style obviously not to the same quality standard but drivable.

    For me the devil is in the detail I only use high quality part in all my modifications and always want the best. I use SSR Type C RS wheels and love them absolutely beautiful wheels.

    In short quality costs money if you don’t have money or on a budget I don’t see nothing wrong with buying knock offs but you get what you pay for.

    What’s worse is people who buy expensive wheels and put shit tyres. WHY!?

  3. I have no problem with replicas. I have problems with people saying they are legit!

    Rays Gramlight 57dr are me

  4. Imitators are lazy. If I ran Rota I would employ a design graduate and make originals. By the time they CAD a copy and prototype it, the cost difference to produce an original couldn’t be much more than the salary of the graduate.

  5. The intellectual property argument is valid, however it is not the responsibility of the consumer to care about that. Consumers will choose what ever they want from what is available to them in the market.

    If RAYS have a problem with Rota copying their designs, then they need to sue them for copy right infringement. Great quality products will always be copied, unless the owners of the original designs stop them. In saying that, the Chinese are typically difficult to stop and the Chinese government doesnt seem to care all that much about it. As long as the Chinese are producing something and even better exporting something, the government are not going to stop them.

    At the end of the day, the consumer is going to weigh up the price vs quality comparison. Some people like myself value quality products and i have the income to be able to afford them. Im not going to judge those that buy cheaper rims, as i am sure most of them have their reasons. However, if they implode on themselves, you will have no one to blame but yourself.

    I completely agree with the tyre comment. Tyres are more important that rims. Too many people spend all of there budget on rims and buy crap tyres!!!

  6. Genuine rims or keep it stock. There’s no need to go fake rims.

    Can’t afford it? You WILL eventually be able to, don’t settle for “that will do”.

    Everyone at a meet knows you have fake rims anyway so why bother.

  7. Support the companies who put in the time and effort into research and design, as opposed to those who just rip ideas. For those saying that they purchase fake wheels, then save for genuine, where is the logic in that?

  8. i don’t think people purposely go for fake wheels off course everyone want the real thing but if money is an issue then there’s no other way, i don’t support buying fake wheels but i understand people that do.

  9. I’ve never had knock off wheels solely due to lucky buys and good timing but either way I wouldn’t care if I did. If you care about people running ‘fake’ wheels so much then how about you buy them the genuine version and stop bitching about it.

  10. What alot of people don’t understand is, wheels, along with your tyres are the two things holding you to the road. With this being said, cheap wheels (rep) and tyres could be the reason for a fatal accident or occurrence that could have been avoided. Genuine made wheels undergo strict and controlled testing and manufacturing processes to ensure optimum quality and meeting safety regulations and standards. On the aesthetics side, the paint quality, centre caps and overall finish of the wheel looks a million times better. For someone like me, the name of the rim I’m reppin’ is something important to me, not for others enjoyment, but mine. With all the above in mind, some do have other financial commitments to spend their cash on, but safety is something you can’t put a price on!

  11. I do believe that wheels are a personal choice, whether fake or real. If that person is happy with the wheels they purchased then there is no need for a debate. Anyone can say their opinion but at the end of the day it is not their wheels. I bought genuine wheels and wouldn’t have it any other way, doesn’t mean I would go around preaching people to not go buy replica wheels, everyone has different circumstances and situations.

  12. Ive been running genuine wheels for ever! Usually the quality is just so so much better.
    The problem i had recently is that i was running a set of 18x10s all round on my GTR. Awesome wheel would never part with them, but when i took them to get repaired, slight buckcle from pothole or something the guy at the wheel repair center just put the wheel on the balancer and just said sorry mate cant fix them! They r a 3 piece rim and he works 1in the industry. Im sure he could take them apart or even have a crack at fixing them himself. You could barely feel the buckle but im extremely fussy with things like that. Didnt drive my car for over a year cause that slight bump would always be at the back of my mind. So that day comes when its time to fix this tiny bump in my wheel and he says, sorry mate cant fix that, im like why, he just goes the metal is to soft of something and theyll just buckle again. Now i paid a shit load of cash for these and i cant exactly rimg Work Japan. cause they discontinued them about 10-15 years ago.
    So ive decided to sell them to someone who wants to run a staggered set 18x10s at back of a R32 gts-t (brave to fit them under those guards, but if theres a will theres a way)
    Now my dilema, i could only get under a grand for wheels worth way more, so im a bit strapped for cash so i go to OTR Motorsport in melbourne, really cool guys. Now they sell a wheel called Concave Cocepts CC03, look awesome, have massive concave. Now the thing is, are these wheels knock offs or copies of a wheel out there somewhere? I know for a fact that they all race their cars at the tracks and push them really hard. What im wondering is i saw pictures on there website showing how they so vigourous and strenuous testing before selling them. The wheels i purchased were about $1500 plus fitting and wheel align. etc. They did tell me theyd still prefer Volk TE37s over the cheaper wheels they had in stock. But that was mainly down to the fact that they race the crap out of their cars and the forged cast wheels are just simply alot lighter per corner which in turn helps everything when racing, conering, braking, accelerating and plus like i said before Jap Wheels just usually look hotter then other rims. I can definetly see in the future those Concave Concept wheels becoming more advanced, lighter, maybe even forged cast to increase strength and drop weight. You should check out the concave concept rims from otr motorsport! Youll be suprisied with the quality and look. Believe me strapped for cash or not i would never have bought them if they hadnt been tested so thoughly! Plus they look hot as!

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