LOS ANGELES -- This is a city of big wheels. But that's talking cars instead of stars, unless the star happens to be Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody, who recently took possession of a black-on-black Hummer H2 SUV with 24-inch diameter, Oasis spinner wheel rims.
It's not enough to buy a hot car in this city of glitz and glamour. Nor is it enough to have a marquee name. If you want to make a statement, you show up in a car or truck with wheel rims that can't be ignored.
There are three-piece rims, two-piece and forged single-piece models. There are spinner wheel rims, such as those on Brody's Hummer. The spinners do what their name implies. They keep spinning on ball bearings, mimicking a wheel within a wheel, even after the vehicles come to a complete stop.
The effect is electric, kaleidoscopic and exceptionally distracting. Many motorists stare at those spinning silver-chromed and gold-plated rims so long, they become transfixed, oblivious to the traffic around them.
There are floater wheels, usually found on extremely expensive cars such as the $324,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom. The "RR" badges on the Phantom's wheel rims stay upright regardless of the car's speed. Ball bearings and counterbalances are used to produce that magic. The effect gives the Phantom the appearance of floating along instead of rolling down Sunset Boulevard.
As you might expect, this is expensive business. Three-piece and spinner rims can cost $1,000 or more per wheel. Elaborately forged single-piece rims, such as those produced by Gotti Wheels of nearby Rancho, Calif., cost $325 to $385 wholesale.
That means they're much more expensive on the retail side, said Becky Becerra, marketing manager for Gotti. "The retailers will charge as much as they possibly can," she said.
But why would someone want to put super-expensive wheel rims on vehicles that already come with hefty price tags?
"It's a lifestyle thing," said Myles Kovacs, president and co-founder of Los Angeles-based Dub magazine.
Dub is to the world of automotive wheel rims and trim what Variety is to the world of entertainment. Anyone who wants to know anything about what is going on in the big-wheels industry, including all of the bling-bling jewelry and apparel that go with it, has to check out Dub.
The term dub, in fact, refers to elaborate big wheel rims, as in, "That's dub!"
"It's all about bragging rights," said Kovacs, who also designs wheels and other "expressive" automotive accouterments for athletes and movie stars. "These people want to stand out, and they have the money to do it," Kovacs said. "They want to be the first to have something different, something no one else can acquire. They always want bigger, flashier, newer."
They certainly want something bigger. Gone are the days when 16-inch-, 17-inch- and even 19-inch-diameter wheel rims were the norm, said Gotti's Becerra.
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