By on March 5, 2013

Here’s the funny thing about being a failed designer-turned-blogger in today’s world of information overload: designers make mistakes and we get to discuss them.  The autoblogosphere is buzzing about the upcoming C7 Stingray softtop, but as my mangled merging of GM’s PR photos show, someone forgot to sweat the details before hitting the news wires. 

Perhaps you’ve never considered the Left-to-Right concerns of designing a directional wheel, a fad that really took off in the late 1980s ’till the mid-1990s.  If so, the above photo of Honda (Prelude?) wheels proves the point. You always want directional wheels that visually move to emulate the forward momentum of the vehicle…unless you’re a Porsche 928 owner that drives in reverse all the time.

Ahem! So looking at GM’s original photos:

That’s pretty cool.  With all the thrusting planes in the C7 Corvette, directional wheels keep the flow going for all the right reasons.  If anything, the dynamic hoops help explain the rest of the body.

Forget about DLO FAIL, how about DW FAIL?

Since it’s a safe bet this problem stops at a computer rendering error,  let’s assume GM made a set of right-hand directional wheels for production. Because these might be the coolest wheels seen on the C7 to date. And while this, combined with directional tires, makes tire rotation no fun (possibly impossible considering staggered sizes front-to-back) it is totally worth it to the ADHD among us…or design fans in general. This body is made for directional wheels.

And while the C7 Stingray is leaps and bounds ahead of the C4 Corvette, I can’t resist showing off the masterpieces from one of my favorite vehicles.  But let’s slap them on one of my other favorite vehicles; the MK IV Jetta…previously studied here.

Damn son…who cares if that’s the wrong emblem!  Just add another inch or two to the stance –since most of us live in the world outside of the Stance Nationand we have proof of why directional wheels are so cool when done right.

Your thoughts on directional wheels is greatly appreciated.

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21 Comments on “Vellum Venom Vignette: Ridin’ Spinners...”

  • avatar

    Stance = stupid on the street. Both from the perspective of the exaggerated camber but even worse, the fitment of tires to narrow for the rims so that it exposes the edge of the wheel, the latter being monumentally stupid as it expressly ignores the approved rim width ranges specified for the tire.


    The C4 wheel is a good looking one and it does work with quite a few different vehicles. I’ve seen them on Mustangs and Civics ( pulling that stance crap) working equally as well.

    • 0 avatar

      A large proportion of ‘stanced’ cars have air suspension, and are only parked that low for photoshoots and the like. Some people ride that low on coilovers, but I can’t imagine that works out too well for them in the long run. Personally I would never lower my car that much, but as an avid hater of fender gap I can sort of understand where people are coming from.

  • avatar

    Its not uncommon for just a single wheel to be used on both sides, even if its directional. Its just economies of scale. Now, for the Corvette, they may have enough of a margin to suck up the extra cost for two different castings, but on cheaper cars I see it all the time

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not economies of scale, that’s being cheap beancounters. Many lower priced cars did have correct directional wheels, and with today’s impressive design/manufacturing technology, reversing the face has to be cheaper than it was when the C4 was new. (or the Prelude, etc.)

      But let’s assume GM doesn’t cheap out on this wheel.

    • 0 avatar

      topless, agreed. In engineering school I recall one of my textbooks called out the Ford Explorer (early one, possibly 2nd gen) for having directional alloys that were the same on all four corners as a “smart” engineering decision.

      Many years ago I purchased directional American Racing steel/chrome wheels for my old truck and they weren’t offered in an opposite “hand.” As someone who cares less and less about fancy “rimz” the more ridiculously-sized they become I would tend to actively avoid correctly-oriented directional wheels because of the rotation headaches.

      But then, I’ve become more of a fain of red steelies with baby moons (looks disturbingly nice on the NewNew Beetles despite the fact they’re not red) or full pie-plate racing discs anyway.

  • avatar

    Remember photographs? You know, when an image of the actual physical car was captured. The geeks in the basement drawing these ” photos” need to pay closer attention. Lol

  • avatar

    This directional wheel thing has always bugged me. My mother’s old 1994 Oldsmobile Eighty Eight Royale had directional wheels that were all the same. On the driver’s side they pointed forward, on the passenger side they pointed rearward.

    The pic of the Jetta with ’90s Corvette wheels is interesting. I live in the Lehigh Valley in PA, and it is apparently the VW capital of North America (in fact, my company holds an office inside the local VW/Mazda dealer, who claim to be the biggest-volume VW dealer in the US; not sure if this is true). It is a common sight to see Golf IVs with Corvette wheels. One of them even has the wheels (only) painted bright electric green. By the look of the tires and deep set, they use only the rear wheels from the Vette, which IIRC had staggered wheel sizes even then. What is the appeal? This is the single most common non-factory wheel option I see on VWs of that generation. I thought it was a local thing, but apparently not…

  • avatar

    Those details. One of the European car mags had the new (in 2002+/-) Continental GT on the cover with the front facing low and straight ahead. I asked a friend whose father owns tire stores what kind of tires it had on it.
    He said, “The mounted backwards ones.”

  • avatar

    I did a rear disc brake swap on my ’93 Mustang using 4 lug axles and hubs from a deceased ’93 Cobra. Once I saw that the stock 16″ wheels stuck out awkwardly in the rear, I sourced some factory ’93 Cobra wheels and had the rears widened 1.5″ so that I could properly run a 275 width tire. Even after explicit instructions on how to mount my new BFG G-Force KDs on directional wheels, the tire shop still screwed up on the two rears. Sigh…

    Also, FWIW, it seems that questionably modified Preludes usually sport wrong way factory directionals.

  • avatar

    At the opposite end of the spectrum from the Corvette with directional wheels is my 1995 Ford with directional…hub caps. A part of the fad Sajeev mentioned; I have managed to keep them intact all these years. But, tire shops hate them; since they screw onto the wheel with tiny screws; no pit stop tire changes on this car. They got in such a hurry last time I bought four new tires that they pinched one of the valve stems under a hubcap. But they do look cool; especially on the driver’s side they are oriented correctly.

  • avatar

    At the end of the day directional wheels are a bit of a gimmick. I find it hard to believe there is any advantage other than style. Possibly a small advantage in aerodynamic performance but how much of a difference can that make over well designed uni-direction wheels? It’s not like the car will run into an aerodynamic brick wall at 150mph because of the wheel design!
    If they do, do it, fine, just do it properly.

    • 0 avatar

      The one possible advantage I could see is if they direct more cooling air onto the brake rotors; holding off brake overheating and fade a little longer. Those vette wheels may actually work in that regard; my spinner hubcaps; not at all; anything else maybe somewhere in the middle; though most folks will never notice any difference. They probably induce a slight drag penelty in the process of moving air; though again, the observed affect would be neglible.

  • avatar

    On RWD vehicles that generally have some kind of stagger, plus directional tread TIRES, I would assume they would have directional rims/wheels that go the right way. I know on my Z (and similar Infinitis) there is a bolt on the hub that prevents you from putting the wrong wheel on the wrong corner. However the bolt is removable so you could fit aftermarket rims anywhere you please.

    I once had CRX Si directionals on my Civic S1500 back in the day and even moved these same rims onto a Prelude Si… sadly I don’t have any pictures to share. Even more depressing I can’t honestly remember if there going the right direction or not!

  • avatar

    I’m surprised that you did not mention the Thunderbird Super Coupe as a Ford fan. The lack of proper directional wheels is why I have not replaced my 16’s.

    I think this is one of the best 5 spoke wheel designs ever. It fits the design of the 94 car really well. If I could get the design custom made in 18 or 19’s I would.



  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Given that the Corvette almost certainly has assymetric tread patterns and unidirectional tires, even if it had the same tire size front and rear you still shouldn’t move them around on the car.

    A low pressure diecast wheel tool needs to be refurbished every 10000 wheels (a 3 month job), so if your production volume is greater than 15000 vehicles per year it makes no odds cost wise to have different wheels right to left.

  • avatar

    Having owned a ’92 Saab 900 Turbo Convertible with the directional “bologna slicer” wheels (lefts and rights), all I can say is they are a total PITA. EVERY time I had tires put on that car, the tire shops screwed up putting the wheels back on the car correctly. I much prefer Minilite style spoked wheels.

  • avatar

    I guess Porsche is just as lazy….

    Even with modern manufacturing, you still need 2 sets of toolss, for a part that you effectively will half the volume by making it matching to side of the car. I don’t imagine that is cheap. Personally I hate all directional wheel for their impracticality if they have to match to the rotation…

  • avatar

    I do like directional wheels done the right way. Directional wheels look more dynamic that a symmetrical design, but they do tend to look backwards on one side of the car when the same wheel is used all around. I suspect Sajeev is annoyed by DW fail for the same reason he hates DLO fail – because it is a sure sign of bean counters winning out over designers.

  • avatar

    I had a ’95 BMW 540i with aftermarket M5 “throwing star” rims that were only made in one pattern (unlike the original M5 rims from BMW), so on the driver side they looked awesome, and on the passenger side they were facing the wrong way. I tried to not let it bother me too much, but it WAS pretty annoying.

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