There is very little to be said about American Racing Wheels that has not already been said.
It was in the mid-1950s when muscle cars owned the roads across the country. It was a time of relative peace and prosperity and the Vietnam War had not yet begun. The quintessential American love for automobiles was evident even though the demand for aftermarket rims had not yet taken off.
The demand for staggered wheels, however, had just made a dent in the market. Almost all the muscle cars – from the Mustangs to the Camaros and the Pontiacs – seemed to be using these types of wheels.
Those were the heydays of American cars. Movies used to be made on these fantastic beasts, “Bullitt” being a particularly big-budget classic.
The revolution begins
In 1956, American Racing Instruments was established. Romeo Palamides was the driving force behind the brand while his friend and partner (and the brains behind the glitz) was Jim Ellison.
Palamides was a maverick and not afraid to take risks. He was a former race-car driver who had once tried to break the land speed record. Together, they decided to do what true entrepreneurs do:
- Fill in a gap that had very little supply.
- Ensure that their product line had the latest and the best staggered wheels amongst other models.
- Overwhelm their competitors by launching some of the finest technological achievements.
- Finally, engage in extensive R&D.
American Racing Wheels was the result of these dreams. They bore the ‘Made in the USA’ mark proudly, were durable and extensively tested, and looked like nothing available at the time!
The company’s original headquarters were in sunny California, and they also placed great emphasis on the supply chain of their products.
Gradually, the word spread of a new line of aftermarket wheels that could enhance the looks of any vehicle. People flocked to reliable retailers and tire and rim shops to get a look at what the fuss was all about.
Most of them came out rather impressed. American Racing Wheels had won over hundreds of customers by the end of 1960.
The company was relentless. Once they had a grip of a major chunk of the market, they decided to go ahead and launch a new range of aftermarket rims which would take them straight to the top.
The first realization the founders had was that most of the stainless-steel rims which were available did not satisfy the average American muscle-car aficionado.
So, they focused on lightweight, aluminum-alloy rims that would be at home on nearly every surface. Thus, American Racing Wheels is also credited with making aluminum the go-to metal for aftermarket and custom wheels.
Then, they came up with another iconic model: The Torq Thrust.
In the history of aftermarket rims, the Torq Thrust holds a special place and was considered a game changer when they were introduced. That idea still holds water.
Almost all staggered wheels which were sold after the release of this model shared similar characteristics. Nowadays, all top-tier racing teams across the world use the Torq Thrust as their model of choice – not for competitive racing but mostly for the attention that they are sure to attract.
Many market gurus and vehicular experts have called the Torq Thrust one of the top 20 most influential inventions in the history of automobiles.
This is proof enough that American Racing Wheels changed the way we looked at aftermarket wheels and are still going strong.
This is the company that invented and popularized the concept of magnesium alloy wheels, commonly called Mags. When Mags rims hit the streets, they were all over at most tire and rims shops across the United States. People soon became huge fans of their lighter weight, the resulting fuel savings, the much-better navigation and improved reaction to panic braking.
While Mags might have lost their sheen over the years, there are still several models which are available for sale across the US market. Most of them are identical to the original concept.
American Racing Wheels also launched a full range of forged wheels in the 90s and became a direct competitor of some of the most premium rim manufacturers. Gradually, they have adapted to the rise in the demand for high-quality and lightweight off-road rims as well, and their newest designs are ample testimony that the company takes feedback from their clients very seriously.
A few last words
While the company has changed hands and is now owned by a different consortium, their core values of producing industry-best wheels that have both style and substance have not changed a bit.
If you own a muscle car or a big SUV and you would like to go off-roading, there are very few options other than the ranges made by American Racing Wheels which will catch your eye. 66 years and still going strong – that’s what makes it a legendary company!
You can also check out their best brands at renowned outlets including Audio City USA, a 30+ year old establishment in California!