By Jim Youngs

Photos by Carolyn Youngs

Of all the decisions that we make building a replica or street rod — paint, engine, upholstery and more — we probably agonize over the selection of wheels and tires more than anything. A cool set of wheels and tires can make a critical difference between a good and bad result, as they set the overall tone and style of the car.

But, how many times have you spotted a cool-looking car, only to scratch your head trying to figure out why it doesn’t look quite right? More often than not it can be traced to the wrong-size wheels and tires that may affect the stance of the car. It can have an awesome paint job, brilliant shiny stuff and knockout upholstery, but if the shoes don’t go with the overall outfit, the whole effect is lost.

Finding the correct wheels should really start at the same time you begin the project, whether you buy them at that time or not. (We know of buildups that were actually done around a set of custom wheels, so that’s not an unusual practice.)

Measuring for wheels should begin at the very early stages of construction. The first thing you want to do is establish that the outside edges of the wheel wells are equally spaced from the body’s centerline. You need to know that if you put the centerline of the body on the centerline of the chassis, that the wheel well edges are going to end up equal distances from the chassis centerline.

If not, you’ll need to adjust the body on the chassis to get the wheel well edges lined up with the chassis rails and ultimately the suspension. What you’re trying to accomplish is to end up with the suspension (wheel hubs) equidistant from the wheel well edges for both the front and rear axles. You’re not trying to make the front and rear distances the same, just match the front side to side, and the rear side to side. Keep in mind that not all bodies are perfect, with the wheel well edges equally spaced from the centerline of the body. The starting point is to check to see where you are before permanently mounting the body.

From that point on, you can follow our descriptions here to ultimately find the right wheels and tires and achieve a balanced look for your ride.