QotW: Which vintage barrel is the definitive “universal” JNC wheel?


There are some wheels, either stock or aftermarket, that just look good. They can be fitted to a good number of JNCs and universally improve the look, like the classic gunmetal or black Wat. You can slap those on anything and they’re guaranteed to make a difference.

Which vintage barrel is the definitive “universal” JNC wheel?

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What’s the greatest VIP sedan?” 


Give yourselves a round of applause because there were a great number of excellently written contenders this week. Nearly every worthy sedan was nominated, starting with Byron Chiu‘s vote for the Nissan H250 President. On the one hand you had Ant‘s appeal to the proletariat in his Toyota Crown, and on the other, cesariojpn‘s decree of a Prince Royal. Then we journeyed into fringe territory with banpei‘s tip of the hat to the Mitsubishi Debonair V 3000 Royal AMG, Ryan‘s spin on the Mazda Luce Royal Classic Hardtop, and Brett‘s election of the Isuzu Statesman De Ville. Unfortunately, there can be only one winner, and this week it’s Tama5‘s unconventional take on the conventional choice of a Toyota Century that we found most inspiring.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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31 Responses to QotW: Which vintage barrel is the definitive “universal” JNC wheel?

  1. mike99mccarthy says:

    My vote goes to the watanabe wheel…. they look amazing on anything! whether it’s an aw11 or a 2016 CRZ. such a timeless look 🙂

  2. Kuroneko says:

    Racing Service Watanabe. Not only a wheel that looks good on anything, and I mean anything, from Porsche to Jeep, but one that also suits any Japanese classic perfectly. They are serviceable, moderately light, and strong. At least in the home market, they are cheapish too…


  3. Slammy says:

    Well, now you’re in my wheelhouse. Wats are the obvious choice but are already spoken for. Can’t go wrong with some old SSR’s like a Mark 1, 2, 3 or a Star Shark. A Riverge or Techno Phantom are some of my favorites but don’t look percect on every car. My pick for the second (1st are Wats) most definitive universal wheel would be the ever popular SSR Longchamp XR-4. They look good on every car, have stood the test of time and ars still sought after.

  4. Dankan says:

    The RS Watanabe 8-spoke is the only contender. I’ve called it the little black dress of wheels before, and it’s true. It universally works. You could throw it on everything from a Toyopet to a Rolls-Royce Wraith and it would still look good. It works in multiple shades, and multiple shapes, on just about any car this side of the brass era (although the idea of sticking a set on an early Model T is hilarious).

  5. Randy says:

    I doubt there’s “A” wheel that looks great on everything, but for a whole lotta rides, the Enkei 92.

    Only wish they had a machined/polished-face choice, maybe with the color in the webbing; would look AWESOME on a luxo ride. Maybe a chromed version.

  6. Yuri says:

    As a design director for a major aftermarket wheel manufacturer, my opinion is that no single wheel is the definitive universal jnc wheel. There are just too many variables design-wise both in terms of cool classic wheels out there, and the cars they go on. I mean sure, you could say the RS-Watanabe 8-spoke is pretty well known, but is it your first choice to put on a shakotan-styled Gloria? I’d personally have to throw some SSR Yayoi “sakuras” on that car. But would a sakura look as perfect on an FC RX7 when a set of Advan Oni’s could set it off so perfectly? And although an oni would look just about right on an AE86, wouldn’t you rather dress up that hachi-roku with a set of Long Champ XR-4’s, or even SSR Tomcats? And this doesn’t take into account all the special vehicle specific wheels out there. The Mugen CF-48 is a fantastically iconic JNC wheel, but only looks right on an origami bodied Honda.

    What it comes down to, is that instead of there being a single definitive universal wheel, there are many definitive wheels, all perfectly matched for the car that they’re going on, and that’s what makes the world of JNC wheels so special. A thought that’s reflected in the awesome vintage wheel t-shirts the JNC store sells. You don’t see a solitary wheel on those, you see a collection of iconic designs from wide sampling of designers over many years. And that’s how it should be.

    • mason says:

      Yayoi “sakuras” are NOT made by SSR nor are they made by Rota lol. Hayashi is the creater of the famous Yayoi wheel

      • Yuri says:

        Sorry, my bad. I was mistaken in thinking SSR was currently the parent company of Hayashi. It’s difficult remembering which companies own each other nowadays.

  7. Dean says:

    SSR MkII rims are the one. 13″ variety of course.

  8. Ant says:

    I have to echo others here: RS Watanabe eight-spokes. It’s the earworm of wheels. You might think it’s disappeared from memory. You might think you’ve found a wheel that better suits your JNC. Hayashi Streets would work, wouldn’t they? Maybe some Work Equip 03s? But sit there idly for a few moments, and there it is again: RS Watanabe. Dark colour. Tucked under the arches of just about anything. My Eunos Roadster’s fate is almost inevitable.

    • Robin says:

      This… have to agree.

      I build scale model cars, and same applies. I take out a new JNC kit to build and come up with crazy ideas and what wheel i will fit it with. start searching on ebay and all other hobby shops and buy a few suitable sale JNC wheels. And guess what i end up fitting them with Watanabe’s.

  9. SHC says:

    Another wheel worth considering that would echo the similar theme as the Watanabe is the Minilite. Great for sports cars and classics on the road or tracking. Light weight, timeless styling and strength from the ’60’s.

  10. Alan says:

    RS Watanabe 8 spoke all day brother!

  11. Michael says:

    Techno Phantoms or Tomcats if you want something hard to find and a bit more unusual, however these may not suit everything. In the easier to find basket of what will suit anything, XR4 Longchamps for sure! They really do look good on any JNC and for me it’s the polished lip/machined spoke that wins it out over the fully painted or even polished lip versions of Watanabes. Starsharks would come a close second to the XR4, but unfortunately Wats wouldn’t even be in my top 10.

  12. ahja says:

    I loooove old skool Japanese wheels. I think one of the many special attributes about AE86s is that they wear *all* of them well, and that’s not true for very many others cars. Many of the vicious star wheels, would look out of place on anything post hachiroku – like fc,s13,miata. Likewise, mesh wheels look off on many of the older cars.

    I think the SSR mkIII is a most timeless wheel, probably as much so as the Watanabe, which everybody knows is the obvious answer to this QOTW. It has pure raw old-skool look to the max, and it looks fantastic on anything from the 60s and later. And I think they look even better on 90s cars than Wats do.

  13. Hashiriya86 says:

    The one that does it for me is the mesh wheel. Not only can it be considered a universal JNC wheel, it’s a wheel that universal to pretty much any classic car, of many eras. In fact, some variant has come stock on a car from a manufacturer from manufacturers across the globe. The AE92 came with them stock in many guises. Honda had BBS ones as optional wheels in Japan. From America, the Trans-Am and even the Panther cars had them. Hell, even the Grand Cherokee had them. VW had them on many a Golf/Jetta. The list goes on.

    From the aftermarket, they’ve been a popular choice since they were introduced. For the last 40 something years, someone has been making them. Be it Enkei, the aforementioned BBS, SSR, Riken, or even the likes of Primax and American Racing, the mesh wheel has always been in production and for sale by SOMEBODY.

    Hell, it doesn’t even need to be a nostagic of any stripe for it to work. Think about everyone putting mesh wheels on their brand new stanced out Civic, or on their widebody drift Z33.

    If you want to go back far enough, we might get something that it doesn’t really work on. Maybe a Toyota AA or something; but you know what would look pretty good on that? A wire wheel. You know, the wheel that the mesh wheel appears to be patterned after?

    Between all the different cars, sizes, variations, and even colours that these came in and on, it’s hard for me to think of a more universal wheel.

  14. YaBoyYeti says:

    Kanjo X Osaka style all the way on this one ( no disrespect, on them I love one make civics, I love their racing on the Hanshin expressway, but I dont want to bastardize their culture like they did with ‘JDM’ culture). Its a hard choice between SSR star sharks,Turugi Racing Bilbo rims, Xr4 Longchamps, Hayashi Racing Sakura, Watanabes, Work Equips 04. But for my 91 civic si which needs to be fixed * shakes fist*. Neo classic needs a neo classic set up. Im throwing the wild Mugen NR10 card on. Simple design, yet makes a car more bad ass.

  15. Robin says:

    Hey everyone,

    Hi Everyone,

    I have to agree, cant say Japanese nostalgic cars without Watanabe wheels springing into that conversation.

    There is also SSR Sharkstar and I am sure in a few years the iconic TE37 (first released in 1996) will be one that can be added to the list.

    The reason for my answer to this weeks QOTW is to say how beautiful that Sunny GX is… how is it possible for a “machine” to stir so much emotion in oneself.


    • Robin says:

      Hi Everyone,

      I don’t even drink and I type like a drunk… sorry about saying hello twice in my above post. sigh.


  16. alvin says:

    Atara Racing Pisang
    THE DEFINITIVE, original wheel for Japanese Nostalgic vehicles.

  17. Q says:

    Watanabe for sheezy

  18. Randy says:

    Had a second thought: STEELIES!

    Can have whatever style of full covers for the mainstream, or “base luxury” model.

    Can have dog dish center caps with or without the trim rings for the muscle look. (Maybe in body color?)

    Can be done with just the actual hub covered, with chromed lug nuts for the base model or hotrod/ratrod look.

    Plus, why spend the money on alloys on a car, if you’re going to change them to some OTHER wheel anyway?

    If nothing else, they’re good for snow tires!

  19. David Meyer says:

    Yahoi Sakuras. The sakura (cherry blossom) adorns countless Japanese buildings, products, advertisements. Polished and painted, these wheels look amazing on anything that originally sat on 13-15″ wheels. Sure, Watanabes look great, but they’re just like Minilites, which are just like Panasports.

    The sakura is the quintessential motif of anything Japanese…why not a wheel?

  20. David Meyer says:

    That should be “Yayoi”, not “Yahoi”. Typing pwns me again. :p

  21. Angel Robles says:

    I think you guys are looking at this wrong. Everybody is saying what is the universal wheel for cars (yes) but at the expense of probably having to be slightly modded up. When I think of the “universal jnc wheel”, I think of a wheel that can slapped on to damn near anything and still look good stock. Something that any car can share and use as a symbol of unity and family. Almost like a class ring from a graduating class. Something that (even though expensive) isn’t really impossible to get and is widely recognized anywhere. Something that is respected by everyone. Something that will never loose value. Something that was timeless since day one and will be protected for all time to come. A wheel that when talked about, nomatter what part of the world, is recognized instantly and brings back the memories and nostalgia of the good old days; ripping through mountains in the brisk of morning, enjoying the seasons on the roads, clashing it out during the night touges, and the feeling of family wherever you went because of this beautiful car culture. The ultimate JNC wheel is the wheel that has stood the test of time and has remained on top for all it’s life. This wheel is the wheel that when looked at, looks back at you and tells a story. The wheels that you kept when you sold your car just to remember all the good old times. The times you were most proud of. Just how a child’s shoes are kept and bronzed, your wheels and kept and mounted. A trophy in all respects of the word. A piece of never ending history. And that is why, the RS Watanabe, is and always will be the true universal JNC wheel. They truly do look perfect on just about anything. Stock, modified, in concept, and even in Initial D and toys. They’ve been given the propper respect and honor they deserve. The only attributes given to not only the regional universal wheel. But a globally universal wheel.

  22. Lance Pan says:

    Oh definitely the RS Watanabes. I even run some myself on my second car and I’m still in high school haha. The surprising thing is it can be run on nearly anything and simply is just a timeless piece of art. I run RS Watanabe F8Fs on my ’98 Honda Civic EK Hatch!! They are simply the staple of the JDM community. Regardless of what timeline the car is from, these classic wheels will look absolutely amazing on whatever it is on.

  23. Sideglide says:

    Great conversations guys. Do you guys think the wheel should scream “JNC” to be universal JNC? Wats are fantastic looking wheels, but they are similar to Minilite/Panasports/millions of others. Meshies can be found on JDM/USDM/##DM.

    Should the wheel be universal AND universally JNC?

    • Ben Hsu says:

      In my humble opinion, I think a Japanese wheel should be uniquely Japanese. SSR Star Sharks are possibly my favorite of all time, as they are not only beautiful, but look like shuriken (ninja stars). No other country would make something like that.

    • Ant says:

      Maybe it’s just the car geek in me speaking, but I can usually recognise a Wat from a Minilite or Panasport. There’s enough subtle differences to the design that some cars just don’t quite look right with one instead of the other.

      Picture a 240Z on Minilites, or a classic Mini Cooper on RS Watanabe eight-spokes. It’d be a bit of a “spot the difference” competition, but I have the feeling you’d be able to instantly distinguish each. It’d be a uniquely UKDM 240Z and a JDM Mini…

  24. Tom Westmacott says:

    The wheel is perhaps for us car people, the equivalent of a diamond ring for many women. It’s round, it’s metal, it’s shiny, and it costs thousands but it makes you feel good about your car, and yourself, each time you see it.

    For me, the one wheel I always come back to, either in real life or in Gran Turismo, is the TE37V. I know it’s a recent wheel, but it really looks perfect on any Japanese car of vaguely sporting bent. The sense of volume created by the deep dish makes the wheel seem bigger and wider, while the bold spokes speak of competitive intent. It doesn’t overwhelm or out-flash the car itself with bright polished rims, but complements the lines of the original car, whether the rounded lines of a Toyota Sports 800, a more recent, wedgy 80s car like an Isuzu Piazza, or the bubble era Silvia.

    Yes it’s a newer wheel, but the great news is that there’s been enough love for the older cars to encourage Volk to design the perfect wheel for them. Forged, light, and available in appropriate colours and sizes, it’s the one simple (albeit costly) step to improve any JNC.

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