There are about a million reasons why widening a set of factory wheels is a good idea. Often, the procedure costs less than buying new wheels. You generally can have them made to whatever offset you want, and they look good. Automobile manufacturers spend a fortune designing a car, and they often the get it right from the beginning. Widening a set of OE wheels is a great way to keep you car looking stock as you build it up, assuming you are into the whole sleeper vibe. Pico Wheel & Tire has been family owned and operated since 1920. Current owner Garry Stevens took over operation of the business from its founder, his grandfather Christopher Burdick, and business is still pretty good, even in this era of cheap, cast-aluminum, aftermarket wheels. He is able to widen or narrow nearly any kind of wheel available, and the prices are very reasonable. Aluminum wheels will cost more than steel, and prices will vary depending on how much wider (or narrower—Stevens can make a set of skinny front-runners for you, too) you want them. This is my car wearing the original 16x7-inch wheels. In 2006, Ford equipped the Panther Platform cars (Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, and Town Car) with 17x7.5-inch wheels. I’ve always preferred the look of these wheels, but I have not been able to find any in the junkyards yet. You can buy them new from Ford through online dealership parts departments, and the prices seem to be about $130 each. Rock Auto sells reproduction wheels made by Keystone for about $96 each. I ordered a set of four and dropped two of them off at Pico Wheel & Tire to be widened.This is my car wearing the original 16x7-inch wheels. In 2006, Ford equipped the Panther P Most steel wheels (and many aluminum wheels, too) are a two-piece design: a stamped centersection welded to a hoop. To create a wider wheel, you simply need to remove the center from the skinny hoop and weld it into a wider one. To begin, Stevens mounted the wheel in a lathe to cut the welds that hold the center to the hoop.Most steel wheels (and many aluminum wheels, too) are a two-piece design: a stamped center After breaking through the welds, Stevens drove the center out with a big punch. Here is the center removed from the hoop. Next, Stevens dropped the center into the new 17x9-inch-wide hoop. Because it is a tight fit, Stevens needed to heat the hoop with an acetylene torch to expand it enough to place the center at the correct offset.Because it is a tight fit, Stevens needed to heat the hoop with an acetylene torch to expa Using a gauge he made just for this purpose, Stevens verified the proper location of the center within the hoop. The spec I gave him was 63⁄4-inch backspace.Using a gauge he made just for this purpose, Stevens verified the proper location of the c With an ancient-looking Miller TIG welder, Stevens welded the centers in place using a straight-tipped, water-cooled torch and an ER70 filler rod.With an ancient-looking Miller TIG welder, Stevens welded the centers in place using a str By now, the hoop had cooled enough to hold the center tightly in place but was still free enough to allow fine tuning. Stevens mounted the wheel in a tire-balancing machine so he could spin it to check trueness. He hit the hoop with a hammer in the places it was wobbling until it rolled straight.By now, the hoop had cooled enough to hold the center tightly in place but was still free Finally, he drilled a hole for the valve stem and deburred it with a grinder. At this point, customers have the option of taking their wheels to be powdercoated or having Stevens paint them. He used a high-quality Rust-Oleum wheel paint and for my wheels, a matte clear to match the original finish.Finally, he drilled a hole for the valve stem and deburred it with a grinder. At this poin Here is the difference between the stock 17x7.5- and 17x9-inch wheels. Note that wheel width is measured on the inside of the hoop between the bead seats.Here is the difference between the stock 17x7.5- and 17x9-inch wheels. Note that wheel wid 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article By John McGann Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!