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Sean Phillips

Everybody Pile Into The Mystery Machine!

By February 27, 2012

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I got an email from a reader over the weekend that poses an interesting puzzle. Joel T. writes:

"I need your help. I am putting together a 1963 Split Window (custom) and I can't find these rims anywhere!!"

Joel includes a picture of one of the sweetest cars ever made: The '63 Corvette C2 Split Window.

Photo © Sean Phillips

This was the first model year of the iconic Corvette Stingray designs, and the '63 model was the only one to include the controversial split rear window. With a body designed by Bill Mitchell and Larry Shinoda to be reminiscent of a Mako shark, and a chassis by the legendary "Father of the Corvette", Zora Arkus-Duntov, the 1963 "fastback" Vette was a gigantic hit with buyers and a spectacularly capable car that cemented Chevy's reputation forever after as a racing car company on the level of Ferrari and Porsche. The only sour note turned out to be the split rear window, which Duntov had hated, but Mitchell and Shinoda claimed was essential to the look of the car. Most owners seemed to agree that it hurt visibility, and it never appeared on a Corvette ever again.

Photo © Sean Phillips

But although Duntov won the battle, Mitchell and Shinoda may have had the last laugh, as the unique look of the split window has made the '63 the rarest and most desirable of all Corvette models.

I do prefer the '65 convertible myself...

Photo © Sean Phillips

...but I must admit that some cars are simply transcendant, and the Split Window coupe is one of the transcendant-est.

So, back to our new friend Joel and his labor of love. Zooming in on the picture, I can discern a few initial facts about these wheels:

Photo © Sean Phillips

  • I swear I've seen them before, but I can't for the life of me remember who makes them.
  • They appear to be 18-inch wheels, but it's hard to tell.
  • I'm pretty sure that they are aftermarket wheels - to the best of my knowledge they were never original equipment on the '63 or any other Corvette, and they were probably made much later than 1963.
  • I tend to look at wheels in terms of what could damage them - it's a sickness. These are a very deep-dish wheel, which makes them much easier to bend, particularly on the outer edge.
  • They look like either 2-piece riveted wheels, (you can just barely see the rivets around the outer edge) or made to look like 2-piece with fake rivets.
  • The spoke design is called either "3 split spoke" or "3 double spoke." Naming conventions for spoke designs can be a little fuzzy sometimes.

You can see the problem here. Identify a set of indeterminate vintage aftermarket wheels from one picture taken at a sharp angle? Difficult. Possibly even unlikely. In a rather ironic twist, I received Joel's email while I was out of town attending the Atlantic City Classic Car Show, perhaps the best collection of American muscle cars on the planet. I showed Joel's picture to a number of Corvette tuners and restorers, but got no joy.

But as Joel says, sometimes you see a set of wheels and you just gotta have 'em. I can get that, since I feel the same way about the wheels I want to put on my Shelby Mustang GT500.

Photo © TSW, Inc.

Of course, I should probably acquire a Shelby Mustang GT500 first. I'm pretty sure that would help.

Anyway, I'm putting this out as a general challenge to my readers - anyone seen these wheels and know who made them? Let me know in the comments, or email me at tires.guide@about.com. Help Joel out!

February 28, 2012 at 9:53 am
(1) Brian says:

Wow, what a nicely done car. Except for the wheels.
I understand the show car bling factor and the whole “mine is bigger” thing appeals to those people. This guy is also trying to reproduce something. However it expands on the myth common to many street performance car owners that somehow replacing your tires with rubber bands makes your car faster. It also makes it harder to find a new car at the top trim level that doesn’t have these sort of ridiculous oversized wheels included as part of the package.

February 28, 2012 at 10:24 am
(2) Classic Car Guides says:

Hey Sean,

We sent your question out to a few of our contacts and the general consensus, ours included, is that these are more than likely custom wheels on the Corvette. Joel can send the picture to a wheel manufacturer to see how much having customs might dip into the old pocket book.

Interested to see what the rest of your readers think.

Cheers, Tony and Michele

March 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm
(3) Sean Phillips says:

Thanks Tony and Michelle!

That makes a lot of sense, as I notice that the center cap looks to be blank. An aftermarket wheel should have a brand name there.

December 14, 2013 at 7:15 am
(4) new ford mustang 2015 says:

I visit every day some web sites and information sites to read articles, except
this weblog presents feature based articles.

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