Forever Wheels

Following a post-holiday break, we are back! I find it extremely hard to believe that it has already been nearly a month since Christmas, but the seemingly accelerated passing of time only means that car season is already that much closer.

As a quick announcement, yes we did omit a Top Five Posts list this year; instead, we are jumping right back into catching up on the various cars and their respective modifications from the last season. We’re kicking it off with Mustard as I wanted to get this last update out prior to the sharing of a little project from the fall…

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…the finished results of which I have just seen. I can’t wait for it to go live! That’s for another day however; let’s get to the wheels and get this wrapped up.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d been more excited about the addition of the flares or the return of these. Regardless, they were the finishing touch for the sedan and something that just felt “right”. Based on the feedback that has been received since, it would appear that many others felt the same way.

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Near the end of 2018 I had switched Mustard over to fifteen52’s then brand new cast Integrales, but plans changed soon after. One thing I never like to do with my cars is excessively switch out parts; I see it as an inefficient use of time and money so I prefer to do extensive research – and renders when appropriate – so that my decisions can be as informed as possible to prevent this. Many parts that I installed on the Focus several years ago, or the Grand Prix a decade ago, are still there today. I know many friends were then understandably surprised to learn that before the 2019 season even began, the Integrales had already been sold.

It had only been a matter of months since I’d originally taken delivery of them but it wasn’t the timeframe that was the most shocking, rather it was the amount of use they saw. After the Integrales had been fitted a few photos were taken and the car saw just two shows before the weather turned for good and it had to be stored for winter. All-in, the Integrales were on the car for less than one tank of fuel. You do the math on that…

Fortunately fifteen52 supports our cars and helps us out with wheels though; this means that I can switch things up without taking a big hit on the cost of buying and selling. I do not make a profit selling my used wheels, but I do take much less of a loss than I otherwise would. It still isn’t something I like to do more than necessary, but I was fine with making this switch because I knew that the “next” set would definitely be staying, given it was one that had never left.

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Obviously it was ultimately revealed at Driven’s roll-in that the Tarmacs were the new wheels, but until that point it was being kept a secret. While work was being carried out on the cars publicly, so to speak (that is, being shared online and openly discussed), these were being dealt with in the background. Excuses, or creative explanations, were used to explain why Mustard would sometimes be sitting on different wheels (the Integrales, Mario’s 19s, etc) as the Tarmacs were still meant to be the winter storage wheels at this point but were instead off being stripped and refinished.

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These things had seen a lot in their time; Dallas, aka CONEKLR, was the original owner and ran them on his famous Performance Blue ST. They were then were shipped up here to Mario who ran them very briefly on Ketchup before ordering his custom CR Kais, which is when he sold them to me (late 2013). They’d already gained a couple of marks from shipping as well as from all of their usage, then I ran them more, and then I went and pissed off a bunch of Mk3 owners by switching the tires and using them as my actual winters which is when their finish really took a beating. They were already decently far from mint at that point, but the winter usage really accelerated their aging.

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After everything they’d seen nothing short of a full refinish would bring them back to show-worthy condition and so they were scheduled to be sent off alongside the Gram Lights for some fresh powdercoat. Incidentally, in case you’re wondering why I didn’t just buy new Tarmacs, it’s because you can’t buy these Tarmacs any more – they’re the original 9.5″ wide pieces! The fact that they have the history of being off of Dallas’ ST makes their story more special as well.

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Anyway, the colour was always a given but the exact shade still had to be figured out. I ordered some powdercoat samples and upon their arrival started holding them up against not only Mustard’s paint, but its white accents as well as some samples of my Grand Prix’s paint. As shown previously the interior trim pieces that were sprayed alongside the flares were intentionally done in my Grand Prix’s OE Bright White hue, so the wheels would have to work with them as well. I found one that ticked the boxes and then everything was loaded up and dropped off at the powdercoater.

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A couple of weeks later they were ready to be picked up and so were once again loaded into the Suburban before being carted over to Mario’s work to receive their valve stems and tires. When he ordered the Integrales for Selsun Mario was kind enough to also grab an additional set of fifteen52 valve stems for me as the set I’d purchased for my Integrales had been sold along with them.

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As for the tires, this ended up being a bit of a throwback as well. When I first bought these Tarmacs they came with 225-width Federal Super Steel 595s. When I switched to the Turbomacs (and then Integrales) I also changed over to 235-wide Continental DWSs (all-seasons) so that I could use the car earlier in the spring and later in the fall and not be completely screwed if temperatures dropped and/or we saw a light dusting of snow. I had originally thought about grabbing another set for the Tarmacs but they’re moderately expensive and frankly, the sedan needed a bit more grip with its power level now. The 595s were selected but ordered in a 235 sizing to get more rubber on the road as well as make the fitment that much more aggressive. The fact that we couldn’t get a full set of 225s here in time for Driven was totally not a factor in the decision.

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With all of the pieces of the puzzle in place Ryan assembled everything and soon I had the new rubber and freshly-refinished Macs back at home to start fitting on Mustard. The rears went on first since they could stay on; the front of the car was still awaiting final assembly at this point and I had yet to thin the flares for clearance. Additionally I still had to trim the OEM studs in order for the Tarmacs to fit with the new spacers, as mentioned in a previous post.

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Admittedly we had a bit of fun posting photos of the sedan on social media with the Tarmacs hidden from sight or covered up via editing, and having people constantly message to ask what the new wheels were. The first person to find out was Yolanda when we met up for Driven’s roll-in. Reportedly her first thought when she saw the car was “is this a joke?”. She really enjoyed the look though and agreed with the decision to bring them back.

Given that a new motorsports facility is finally approaching perhaps some day another set of wheels and tires will be picked up for track use (with their aggressive fitment and weight these would not be ideal for aggressive driving) but as far as show/street wheels are concerned, I’d say that 2013 me had it right. The Tarmacs can’t be beat.

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Over the years I’d had countless people ask me/bug me/beg me to sell the Tarmacs and my answer was always the same: no. I never could let them go and I’m glad that I didn’t; they’re the wheels that belong on this car, and they’re the wheels that are going to stay on this car.


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