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I’m Done With Black Wheels!

Are black wheels on cars still popular?  I think the trend started about ten years ago, when luxury car makers began putting black wheels on their basic models.  Since then, they have become very popular and are an option on nearly every new car.  Is it time for a change?  I think so.

Over the last decade or so, I’m guilty of painting the wheels on my fun cars black.  I even did it for a couple of friends’ cars.  It seemed like an easy way to add a sporty look and to stand out from the crowd.  Heck, the last two MINIs I owned had black wheels from the factory.  

I’ve had enough of it.  While initially cool, black wheels have a number of shortcomings.

Putting Lipstick On A Pig

Once the initial impression of having black wheels wears off, what are you left to do?  Some really good wheel designs get lost in the sea of black.  Stand about thirty feet from a car with black wheels, and you will see what I mean.  Nothing but black.

For a while, I found ways to add some highlights to my black wheels.  I either painted or applied a vinyl stripe around the perimeter of the rim, or added vinyl stripes between two spokes.  If you still like the idea of a black wheel but are not ready for a different color, these little touches can go a long way.

New Color Trends

Last fall, I went to the Detroit Auto Show with my friend, Todd.  I think he is one step ahead of me with the dislike of black wheels, so he helped set my radar on alert.

As we roamed the display of cars at Cobo Hall (or whatever they call it these days), I noticed a smaller number of vehicles with black wheels.  In its place, matte silver wheels are on the rise.  This is not a bright silver, but a “dirty” silver with a matte finish.  The shade is very close to the Argent Gray rally wheels from the 1970s, but with a matte finish. 

A good example of matte silver wheels can be found on the blue Corvette Z06 and white custom Corvette below

Gold and bronze wheels are also gaining popularity, but selectively.  Those colors are not as universal as black, but look great on green, black and blue vehicles (especially sports cars and off-road vehicles).

Testing 1, 2, 3…

As you may know from past articles, I like to paint wheels.  Black has been a popular choice in the past, but I have also branched out to gold, bronze and many shades of gray.

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I have a couple of extra wheels in my basement that I use for color samples.  It’s a nice way to test out a color without committing a real wheel to a permanent color change.  I was bored this week, so I decided to try a new color on a black wheel.  

The wheels above are from an old VW Beetle.  It resembles the rally wheel design that was popular in the 1970s.  I took it from gloss black to matte nickel silver with relative ease using Rust-Oleum paint.  The paint was already a matte finish, but I still applied a matte clear coat to give it a little more depth and protection.

I did the same with the wheel from a 2017 MINI Clubman, above (the original factory black wheel is shown above the earlier “Putting Lipstick On A Pig” section.  You can see how the color looks between the old and new wheel designs. 

While I like the general look of the matte nickel, I would like to find a silver that is one shade darker.  I may need to go to a true automotive paint to get the right color.

Final Verdict and Questions?

I’m not sure the trend is shifting quickly from black to other colored wheels, but I think it is coming.  Black wheels used to be a sign that you either lost your hubcap or were driving an engineering vehicle (my Detroit roots are showing).  Today, it is reserved for luxury and sports cars and trucks.  I’m done with black wheels. 

How about you?

Let me know your thoughts. Please email me at, or message me through the Vehicle Nanny Instagram or Facebook pages.

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