QotW: What’s the coolest vintage barrel?

No other car culture comes close to Japan’s in terms of wheels. The sheer enormity of selection can be matched only by the magnitude of a rim collector’s obsession. From ninja star designs to barrels deep enough to bathe a baby in, variations and possibilities (and prices) know no bounds. So it’s about time a Question of the Week asked:

What is the coolest vintage barrel?

There’s nothing like a black Watanabe, but then again there’s the more-expensive-than-most-cars pink Hayashi Yayoisakura” and everything in between. We can’t decide, so it’s up to you, dear reader.

As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random JDM toy. Click through to see the winner  from last week’s question, “What car would you buy today to preserve for posterity?“ 

Your choices for future nostalgic ranged from the beloved high-performance Nissan GTR and Lexus IS-F to the quirky and reviled Nissan Juke and Murano CrossCabriolet. The Lexus LFA supercar garnered the most votes, including one from perhaps the first-ever QotW vote by a member of the female species, albeit indirectly, in the form of Kevin T’s co-worker. However, the winner was Danny, who made a compelling and hilarious case for why in 2037 she’d rather go home with the man in the Nissan Cube.

The GTR and LFA are just too obviously awesome (The LFA being more awesome in my opinion). What you guys are really going to want in 25 years is a clean example of the shoebox-square Nissan Cube. Like the first generation Scion xB, the Cube is unashamedly Japanese and ultra-practical. Sure it’s slow, but with a proper 5 speed and a few suspension tweaks it will probably be a blast to drive compared to the electric shavers on wheels that we’ll be offered in 2037. Pull the rear seats out and lay down some plush carpet and the Cube has the potential to be the modern-day psychedelic van, without the Gandalf murals and acid hits. Drive to the beach while sipping fuel, and then stretch out comfortably in the back, instead of paying for a hotel. Kevin T’s co-worker will be less than charmed when he rips to the ocean with her at a buck-eighty, then can’t afford a hotel room because his LFA costs more than a house. That’s when the Cube driver lures her in with the plush amenities of his custom toaster-on-wheels. Just don’t paint “free candy” on the hatch door… it’s bad form.

Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a art puzzle by the renowed Japanese artist BOW.

[Image: Slappy, Nissan USA]

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44 Responses to QotW: What’s the coolest vintage barrel?

  1. dylan peek said:

    have to say best wheel is the hayashi command. silly to some maybe, but not a very common wheel, but still a classic japanese style

  2. dankan said:

    Ok, I will be utterly dull and go with the Watanabes. Black, gold or gunmetal, they manage to look both classic and contemporary on just about anything, across a broad range of cars.

    They may be so popular as to be dull; they may be entirely too conventional, but they’re the little black dress/tailored suit of Japanese wheels. They’re just right on just about everything. If only they still made them in sizes for just about everything…

  3. emmanuelb110 said:

    best japanese vintage rims for me, the first one in the photo, dumlop t-e! a mix of my other favorite rims the ssr xr-4′s and work equip 03′s….. 4th one are the hayashi yayoi next to hayashi streets

  4. Tyler said:

    The coolest vintage barrel that rarest of the rare wheel for which you’ve been searching for the past decade. The barrel that instead of sitting in the garage getting polished, gets wrapped in sticky rubber and mounted on your vintage car. The one that perfectly compliments the funkiness of your B210 or the boxiness of your AW11. It doesn’t matter what the wheel is; it matters that your rock it. And no one can rock a wheel when it’s sitting on a shelf.

  5. bert said:

    A set of original Super Advans on an AW11 would bring me to my knees!

  6. Nigel said:

    Looks good on anything from an sa22 RX-7 to Nissan C130 Laurel.
    The SSR Mk III. (Third row from right, five up from the bottom).

  7. jivecom said:

    oh, hard question! for every vintage wheel i know and love, there’s ten more awesome looking ones i’ve never seen before. i’m just gonna go ahead and say that i really love fan wheels, and i’d put them on almost anything (since my favourite cars are all from the 1980s it wouldn’t look too out of place. i’m not thinking of fanning a hakosuka lol)

  8. jfa said:

    I think the Hyashi Street has to be the coolest vintage wheel out there. Its one of the few wheels that can transcend time and culture. It looks good on everything from vintage Japanese iron all the way up to more modern cars like EK Civics and the like. I’d venture to say it might even look good on some vintage American and even European cars like Alfa GTVs, Fulvias; heck even Mavericks. They compliment the form and don’t scream look at me over the entire composition of the car itself. Not many wheels can make that claim.

    • John said:

      They look good on European cars because it’s knockoff of a European wheel. ;)

    • Ben said:

      What John’s referring to are the stock wheels on the DeTomaso Mangusta. The Street’s spokes look thinner because the edges come painted black. Actually the Rota copies of the Hayashi Street look closer to the Mangusta’s… so circle of life and all that.

  9. Kevin T said:

    Most of them are just pretty damn cool. But how about some not too common, rare wheels with “cool ass names” such as: Dunlop 2PM and 3PM, Enkei Colin Cross Fever, Enkei Fortress 4, Enkei Sansei Spark, Enkei Silver Star Footmark, Enkei Uniroyal 8, Focus Racing Esprit, Galdola Sank Kinzoku Mesh, Gallop Racing “V the V” Mesh, Hyper Sonic Mighty Boy, Manaray Simple Goal, Novan Wonder Rabbit, Pasco Fame Bilbo, Rays Volk Racing 370 Fin, Riverside R 101, RS Watanabe Stellar Quattro, Sharak Vanish, Sharak X1X & X2X, SSR Colin, SSR Easy Rider, SSR Focus Racing, SSR MR 2DE, SSR Super Star & Super Star 4 Spoke, SSR Win Mesh, Suzuka Carol, Weds Racing Forge and Racing Forge Dish, Weds Sports 2PF, Weds Zero Speed, Work F3, Work Pulse, Work Spirit 33 & 44, Zender Sport Disc, and not too long ago saw a BNIB set of wheels produced by Work for Toda Power called Grand Mechanic S RT34. Also recently acquired a set of SSR Long Champ XRX Mesh. The Grand Mechanic’s and XRX’s aren’t really vintage, but rather uncommon. Most of the wheels I listed would look pretty damn cool on most old school jap cars. I’d say good luck on finding a set of these wheels though.

  10. 2000gtx said:

    watanabe rims are my personal fav…but i also like ssr xr4 s and ssr reverse mesh timeless…

  11. Danny said:

    Given the choice between a mint set of 14 x 8 zero offset Techno Phantoms, and the chance to take Olivia Wilde for a ride in my Series 3 Rx-7, Miss Wilde would have to catch a bus. Just saying..

  12. Shane_lxi said:

    Impul silhouettes have always been my favorite vintage barrel. When I think of vintage japanese racing, they are always the first wheel to come to mind for me. Something about the shape just gets me. There’s similar vented solid face wheels out there, but none have that sexy concave on the face and none have that perfect feel for me like the original. I love them!!

  13. jncr said:

    SAKURA!!! A timeless kyusha wheel. The center design embodies the cherry blossom, a world renown as a symbol of Nippon. Being available only in 14″ sizes harkens back to the time of triple carbs, deep offsets, over fenders and rear drum brakes.

  14. lowlifestyle said:

    Without a doubt it would have to be the Advan A3A. It is a polarizing wheel like many JNCs are, you either love them or hate them. They have seen action in motorsports and are the quintessential Japanese wheel. They are an original design which cannot be said of some wheels (watanabe). They are multi-piece so you can have any offset you want with the fattest lips you can fit, the fact they are still readily available speaks to their popularity and cool factor. Their cool factor goes even higher when you consider that they have been redesigned numerous times to keep up current automotive design, you can get a set of A3As for your 510 and a set of super Advans for your 370z. I know a lot of people despise 3 spoke wheels but to me a wheel has to look cool spinning as well as sitting still, and there’s something about the way a 3 spoke spins that makes them super cool, they’re like JDM Daytons, they see me rollin, they hatin!

  15. cesariojpn said:

    BBS alloys. It crosses national lines and marquees. Plus you can trade shittier wheels for the more valuable BBS wheels in some cases!!

  16. Nakazoto said:

    These wicked vintage barrel designs all started with racing, naturally. Manufacturers were constantly trying new and interesting things with the wheels to drop weight while simultaneously keeping the brakes cool, I means just look at some BBS Brake Cooling Fans. One of the coolest (get it, cool?… I’ll show my self the door…) shots at a lightweight wheel that pulls heat away from the brakes in my opinion were the Mugen CF-48s. It was like Honda and Mugen got together and took a bunch of air cooled motorcycle engine cooling fins and glued them to the brake disc hat! This created a huge heat sink for the brakes and one of the most unique and recognizable shapes out there! Did it work? Hell if I know. Did it look completely functional and awesome. Absolutely!

  17. JamesE said:

    Black Wats look good then and now. Timeless!

    For the vintage look I like a 4-spoke 13″ wheel. Is there a single new car that has 4 spoke wheels?

  18. Tofuik said:

    SSR MK1. Because fuck spokes.

  19. Love the Work Equip 03′s but definitly depends on the caar i think… not every wheel looks good on every car, and most of the classic designs have something great about it. so it’s not a question to answer with one word :)

  20. James said:

    The XR4 Longchamps are the best wheels for a classic Japanese car.

    The dish that the XR4 Longchamp has, ( now that dished wheels have slipped back around into fashion after the terrible styles influenced from Need for Speed Underground 1), look the part on a C110 Skyline with overfenders provides a great addition to shape of cars in that era.

    I love how the 6 spokes that start wide in the centre and narrow out complement the sharper line of a nostalgic car more so than any other wheel. The bolts on the inner lip give it that vintage 3 piece wheel look to it also.

    They look like the predecessor to the extremely popular Volk te37 wheel which suits nearly every modern car with its minor tweaks from the undeniable influence from the XR4 Longchamps.

    Pretty underappreciated too if ya ask me.

  21. Aaron said:

    I’m very surprised that no one has mentioned Toscos. For a second, I thought they weren’t even pictured above, but then I found Waldo.They are by far the coolest vintage wheel and also the only wheel I would do very immoral things to obtain (especially if they were already in vintage matte black :). Not only do they look perfect, but they’re a works wheel too. Where’s your vintage NISMO or Mazdaspeed wheel? If more proof is needed, take another look at them on JDMLegends’ TA22 wrapped in those sick Avons http://www.jdmlegends.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/6_7_11-003.jpg These things mean business!

    I rest my case

  22. Taylor said:

    WOW… No one has given a vote for the Apaches? In my opinion, Definitely should go to the Enkei Apache I. They look epic yet simplistic, plus they have the most badass center cap ;)

  23. Max Motter said:

    The coolest vintage wheel is the one that you search endlessly to find. Your search parameters may be price, size, or offset. You may be willing to pay whatever necessary to get that certain wheel. It’s the wheel that you will break your back laboring in order to afford. It’s the wheel that when you step back from your car, you get the feeling that there is no better fit for your (or any) car. The coolest wheel isn’t big and flashy, but rather subtly sized, with a deeeeeeeep barrel and a cool design in the middle. It’s the wheel that is made with these cars in mind, and the wheel you’ll see nowhere else.

    The coolest wheel Is also the wheel that is replicated (sometimes poorly). Work Equips, SSR’s, Wat’s and Hayashi’s all come to mind here. It’s cool because you have something that other manufacturers are willing to shamelessly rip off because they wish their wheels could be that cool. The coolest wheel is a rarity, something that comes around only because the stars aligned and a thundering voice came down from the sky and said “Now’s the time my man, Go to it!”

    Personally, there are many of these wheels for me, and to choose one would be to disrespect the others. And I just can’t do that with a clear conscience.

  24. Killer Tofu said:

    Definitely Sakuras, but I like the gothic looks of the Riverside Riverge too.

  25. Marc Reco said:

    Whats the coolest vintage barrel? I dont think this question can be answered to be honest…it merely depends on the eyes of the beholder. For me, it would be the Speed Star Racing Mark-II, but for another, the SSR Dori Dori, and so on and so forth. Therefore, there is no real answer. As long as the barrels are period correct and match the specific chassis, all japanese wheels are timeless…

    marc

  26. GEN2TWINCAM said:

    Barrel O’ Vintage:

    My vote is Mugen’s CF-48 masterpiece! It seems that people are polarized when it comes to this wheel, and it may be dismissed entirely by our RWD brethren. As an FWD HondaHead I fell in love with these hoops when given a slick Mugen Power product catalog by my cousin who worked for American Honda. She was immediately tasked with acquiring a set in 13″ diameter (along with a Mugen steering wheel). This was in 1984, and my 1982 Civic has been rolling on them ever since.

    This isn’t entirely true. In 1997 my boss talked me into trading the Civic and my 1984 Honda ATC 200X (and a few dollar more) for his “other” Porsche. I agreed, with the stipulation that I would buy back the Civic in one year, and he would be very careful with “my” wheels during his temporary ownership. For reasons I was never able to ascertain, he sold the wheels, center caps, aero-covers, and Pirellis to a local Honda parts yard for $60. A year after buying back the Civic I finally found a complete NOS set that had been stashed in the warehouse at King Motorsports. I’ll never let them go again!

    The CF-48 style (provided mostly by the cooling fins) is more form-follows-function than decoration, and seriously clicks with my mechanical engineering brain. Plus, for a total change of look, just bolt-on the aero-covers. Now, if I could only find some decent 13″ tires.

  27. John said:

    SSR Starsharks. Hands down. :)

  28. Brian said:

    The best vintage wheel? It’s the one you buy that makes your car just right! It doesn’t matter how much it cost or how rare it is, what matters is now your car has the “look”. You know what I mean, the way you pictured it in your head finished when you first bought it. That is the best vintage wheel!

  29. Jun said:

    SSR MK2!

  30. L.A.M said:

    I have to go hands down with Riverside Riverges. Because I remember when I first saw these wheels I couldn’t fight the urge to tell all my boys how much I love these wheels. They are now like my holy grail of wheels now and I reallly hope to own a set on day.

  31. Seanksee said:

    SSR MKII, Are my top choice.. But I really love em all.. Tons I don’t know the names of as well..

  32. Travis W said:

    No Mugen NR10R? By far my fav.

  33. A.J. said:

    Racing Forg NR TYPE FTW!!!! <3em.

  34. Chris said:

    Is there a high res collage of the barrels? Could make a cool albeit busy wallpaper.