One of the easiest, simplest, and most effective ways to add some personal, and even functional, styling to your Mustang is by a swapping out the stock wheels for an aftermarket set. Changing your wheels will give you a brand new look more in line with your own vision for your pony, and if you step up to a wheel with a larger diameter and width, you will also see performance gains as well.
However, with thousands of options to choose from, in an assortment of styles, finishes, sizes, and widths, it can be hard to settle on the right wheel for your Mustang. While owning multiple sets of wheels is more common than some may think (it does have its advantages), if you are looking to get the perfect set of wheels today, there are some things you need to know before you buy. Get the low down on the ins- and-outs of buying a set of wheels and make the right choice for your ride.
1000s of Styles
Finding the right wheels for your Mustang all starts with understanding and deciding on what style you want to go with. The style of wheel you choose says whether your Mustang is a cruiser or a bruiser, a quarter mile king or a show stealer.
When it comes to wheel styles, the two most different and also most popular styles are European/drift wheels and classic muscle car style.
European/drift style wheels are typically spokeier than a traditional wheel, and carry over that foreign racing car feel to the classic pony car. AMR Wheels and Forgestar’s F14’s are perfect examples; featuring a thin spoke design that gives a sleek and aggressive stance to Mustangs. Typically, European/drift style wheels can be harder to clean due to their spokey design which creates small cavities and crevices where brake dust can build up.
Classic muscle car style wheels typically use a “5 lug” design that is reminiscent of what you would see on a 1960’s muscle car, giving you that old school look that’s simple and bold. Bullitt style wheels deliver that retro style look that you’re looking for, while MMD’s 551C Wheels are an incredible modern day interpretation of that classic style.
Driven more by function than style, drag wheels are also an option that will deliver big performance on the track while also giving your ‘Stang a menacing look. Racestar’s selection of drag wheels will give you that all business no bull look, while allowing you to fit the best tire you can around them, providing you with all the grip and performance you could want.
When selecting the style of wheel you want to run you must also consider what finish will best achieve the look you’re going for. Wheels come in a variety of finishes that vary from silver and gun metal, to different shades of black and bronze. If you’re looking for attention grabbing looks that compliment your ride than a lighter and brighter finish (silver) is the way to go. A darker wheel (gun metal or black) will give you that sleek and sinister appearance that is sure to set a tone.
Commonly, darker colored wheels (black finishes) tend to show brake dust, dirt, and road grime more than your lighter colored finishes, requiring them to be cleaned slightly more often.
Choose Between Multiple Sizes
Once you have nailed down what style of wheel you want to go with, the next thing you must decide on is what size wheel you want to run; aftermarket wheel sizes can range from 15” to 20” leaving you a lot of options to choose from.
Smaller diameter wheels (less than 17”) are typically used for drag setups, giving you more room to fit a larger, meatier tire for improved traction. A lot of your drag wheel setups will be around 15×10 (rear width) allowing you to fit a fat drag radial to give you a wide and meaty contact patch.
Ideally, you will want to run a wheel that is 18” to 20” around— going any bigger or smaller (on a non-drag setup) will hinder your performance and drivability. The bigger the wheel is the less rubber you will be able to fit around it, making traction more difficult. The smaller the wheel is, the harder the car has to work to keep the RPMs up. Going with a larger wheel (20”) will fill up the wheel well more and do a better job of eliminating wheel gap, while a 18” or 19” wheel will allow you to fit larger rubber in the rear without rubbing issues and also eliminating wheel gap.
Pick The Right Width
After you have picked out the style and size of wheel you want to run, the final piece of the puzzle is what width you want to use; wheels can range from being 8.5” to 11” wide, with a larger wheel giving you more performance and traction. If you aren’t looking to crank up the power and hit the track, than an 8.5” wide wheel will be ideal for your pony. 9.5” wide wheels seem to really fit the bill for a wide variety of enthusiasts, and 10”+ wide wheels seem to be more in line for modded Mustangs. A 10” wide wheel is also great if you are just looking to give your ‘Stang an aggressive stance that will have everyone looking twice.
Standard or Staggered
When it comes to width, you have the option of running what is referred to as a squared or staggered setup.
standard wheel setups utilize the cornering benefits of having the same width wheels and tires on all four corners.
Staggered wheel setups use a wider wheel and larger tire in the rear, such as a 8.5” wide wheel/255 tire in the front and a 10” wide wheel/285 tire in the rear, giving you improved traction and handling.