Blending In: Making Aftermarket Wheels Look “Factory”

While some people want the "modified" look, others prefer to keep a lower profile.

I'm one of them, as when I'm stopped by a police officer, I don't want them saying "boy racer" as they approach the car--not the best first impression. I'm always humored when folks complain that they were stopped for an exhaust or whatever. It may be "profiling" or "harassment" but, unfortunately, just because it isn't totally fair doesn't mean it is ever going to stop.

Even if you don't care about the attention of authorities, perhaps you don't want every other boy racer in their rice mobile revving at you at every traffic light in town.

One of the ways that you can disguise your modifications is to make your aftermarket wheels blend in better. It also tends to be better looking to the average person and gives your car that "factory tuned" appearance when done right.

On project Lexus, I wanted the aftermarket Kosei K1 TS wheels to look more like factory optional alloys. They're still 17s and they weigh about 7lbs a piece less than the factory wheels did. I selected a color which matched most factory wheels (light silver) and immediately removed the factory supplied magenta valve stems in favor of some more standard looking chrome valve stems.

The only remaining "tell" was the prominent "Kosei" logo center caps. I measured the center cap with a caliper and found them to be 50mm. I was able to find a site online that made 3d decals with the Lexus "L" emblem for about $25-30 shipped. I could have just as easily done this for a Honda or Ford.

These decals fit nicely in the center caps and to all but the most trained eye, they look factory. They still look great after 2 years of use and they're cheap enough to replace if they should ever start to look bad.

They blend in so well in fact, I've had Lexus dealership workers ask which factory wheel they were as they weren't familiar with them but they knew they just HAD to be factory.

You can do this for most makes and types of wheels, it just takes a few minutes of measuring and it helps to think about what type of sticker, decal, or center cap will look best.

You may in some cases, be able to re-use a factory center cap. Just make sure that it looks good and doesn't look out of place.

Just one more way to 'stealth' your car.


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