There are about a million reasons why wheel widening a set of factory wheels is a good idea. Often, the wheel widening 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 wheel widening 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 I bought a set of Kumho Ecsta ASX tires, sized 235/45R17 front and 285/40R17 rear from Performance Plus Tire in Long Beach, California. These tires were about 1⁄2 inch shorter than the tires they replaced, giving the Vic even more of a 4x4 stance. I bought a set of Kumho Ecsta ASX tires, sized 235/45R17 front and 285/40R17 rear from Per I fixed the stance issue by trimming two coils from the rear springs. I also needed to recalibrate my speedometer using the SCT X3 power programmer, which has provisions for speedo calculations based on revs per mile, 805 in the case of these tires. I fixed the stance issue by trimming two coils from the rear springs. I also needed to rec “Holy s*#@! That thing looks siiiick! K.J. Jones, Tech Editor, 5.0 Mustang Checking Offset/Backspace There are a variety of ways to determine just how wide a wheel and tire package you can fit on your car. Here is process I used. I found a good tire size comparison tool online at RimsNTires.com/specs.jsp that allows you to compare prospective wheel and tire combinations to what's on your car now. For this to work, you need to know your tire size (no biggie-it's molded into the tires) and the diameter, width, and offset of your existing wheels. Tire Rack will have specs for your stock wheels. Using the tire comparison tool, I plugged in my stock specs and then tried several combinations of section widths and aspect ratios to come up with a tire that was about 2 inches wider and within an inch of overall diameter of my stock tires. In my case, the 225mm section width is approximately 8.9 inches wide. A 285mm tire is approximately 11.2 inches wide. To determine the correct offset and backspace for the new wheels, I used Tire Rack's specs for my stock wheels: 16x7 ET50 (ET50 means 50mm positive offset-the hub flange is 50 mm outboard of the wheel's centerline). According to the tire comparison tool, this is equivalent to a 5.9-inch backspace. Knowing I could increase the overall package by about an inch inboard, and factoring a 285/40 tire mounted on a 17x9 wheel, a 37mm offset equates to 6.5 inches of backspace. I measured the space around the stock tire with the wheel mounted to the axle, figuring I could safely add at least 1 inch to the front and back of the centerline of the stock tire. I measured the space around the stock tire with the wheel mounted to the axle, figuring I Know that these are general figures that must be verified before having a set of wheels made and buying tires of a certain size. I checked my calculations with this Wheelrite tool made by Percy’s. Different brands of tires will have more sidewall bulge than others do, and that can throw off your calculations. Be conservative with your figures, however, and you will still be able to fill your wheelwells with a serious-looking wheel and tire combination that won’t rub over every bump in the road. End Know that these are general figures that must be verified before having a set of wheels ma Parts List Description PN Source Price 17x7.5 10-slot wheel (set of four) STL03670 Rock Auto $383.16 Widening two steel wheels to 9 inches N/A Pico Wheel & Tire 180.00 Kumho Ecsta ASX 245/45R17 (pair) N/A Performance Plus 266.00 Kumho Ecsta ASX 285/40R17 (pair) N/A Performance Plus 360.00 Mount and balance four tires N/A Performance Plus 79.00 Wheel alignment N/A Just Tires 79.00 Total $1,347.16 SOURCES Performance Plus Tire & Automotive 3910 Cherry Ave Long Beach CA 90807 562-988-0211 www.performanceplustire.com Rock Auto 6680 Odana Road Madison WI 53719 866-762-5288 www.rockauto.com Pico Wheel & Tire North Hollywood CA 818-982-0375 By John McGann Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!