Project 88: Fitting the New YearOne Rollers onto Our Chevelle

photos by: the author

Project: 88 Tries on New Shoes from YearOne Musclecars and Toyo Tires

Over the last few months we’ve been quietly plugging away on our ’70 Chevelle SS project car, that we’ve nicknamed “Project: 88.” Just in case you haven’t been following along, it’s a car that has been at your author’s disposable for at least three decades, but had been shelved as life and other projects always got into the way. But now that the excuses and distractions are largely behind us, Project: 88 is quickly coming into its own.

The long-term goal with Project: 88 is to not only restore the car to its former glory, but to bring it into the modern world with 21st-Century technology subtly integrated in without going so far as the ever-so-popular LS engine swaps, 6-speed transmission upgrade and so on. It’s about taking the original look and mechanicals, and improving on them. Basically making every little part of the car just a little bit better.

We’d love nothing more than to make the car handle as well as it will ultimately look, and we’ve addressed this in the past to a certain extent with the help of Hellwig sway bars (see the install HERE). However, our thirty-year old rubber was dry-rotted, and the original, rusty 14×7-inch Chevy SS wheels not only looked significantly aged, but didn’t do us any favors in the handling department, despite Hellwig’s best efforts.

As you can see, our old 14-inch SS wheels and ancient off-brand rubber (complete with dry rot and cracks) simply won’t do in a 21st century world filled with European and Asian imports that would send our Chevelle back to 1970, if they were ever to cross paths on a road course. An upgrade/update is certainly in order.

Naturally, we could have cleaned up the original wheels and simply reinstalled them, but again, we wanted to bring the car into “today” and 14-inch steelie Mag-style wheels just won’t cut it, anymore. That said, we’re not all that fond of the “DUB” look either, so we wanted something that would look right at home on our Chevelle, but also allowed us to utilize modern tire technology and the ability to have much more options on the tire front; i.e., 14-inch tire choices have dwindled substantially over the last several years as more modern cars tend to have much larger diameter wheels.

Searching high and low, we immediately fell in love with the YearOne Musclecars 17-inch Chevrolet SS/Magnum-style wheels. They’re a lightweight, aluminum design that not only offers the correct offset (designed by the muscle car masters in Georgia themselves) but eliminates the trim ring and reimagines it as the edge, or lip, of the wheel casting. The YearOne Retro line of wheels are currently only offered in 17-inch diameter, but can be ordered in 8- and 9-inch widths. It should be noted that the 9-inch wide wheels come in a 5.125-inch backspacing, whereas the 8-inch wide rollers arrive to your door with a 4.5-inch backspacing.

Looking to fill in the stock wheel wells as much as possible, while lending the staggered muscle car look, we elected on the 8-inch wide wheels in the front, and 9-inch wide in the rear. This allowed us to install the fresh rollers without any modifications, cutting or “hacking.” Just as importantly, we went with an equally modern tire that will not only work in real-world conditions, but keep the car planted in the corners around an autocross circuit — I guess we’ve taken part in too many Goodguys events, to not have a go with Project:88.

Choosing a source of rubber to make contact with the pavement is equally important, because it takes much more than just some solid sway bars and larger wheels to improve the handling of a nearly 50-year old GM A-body. You need grip as well, and our friends at Toyo Tires were happy to answer the call with their Proxes-4 Plus.

We wanted a tire that offered excellent grip, but was prepared for real real driving, including curvy country roads in the Midwest and in the event that we get caught in the rain. Being from Ohio, that’s almost a guaranteed possibility. If we’re so inclined, these tires could handle the snow but we don’t think Project: 88 will ever see the white stuff once its restoration is complete.

The Toyo Proxes-4 Plus are available in a wide array of sizes for 16-20 inch diameters, with plenty of different profiles and tread width available. Since our Chevelle wheels are 17×8 and 1×9-inch respectively, we went with 245/45/17 on the front and 275/40/17 out back.

Some other great features of the Proxes-4 Plus include a quiet ride (we prefer the roar of the BBC, then rawr of the tires, any day) and a 50,000-mile warranty. The ride comfort, tread life and even fuel efficiency provide exactly what you’d want in a daily-driven muscle car or even in an occasional recreational autocross competitor.

Since our Chevelle was currently under the knife at the time our wheel/tire package showed up to our shop door, we went ahead and test-fit the wheels, had the rubber mounted (off camera) and installed the center caps. We basically wanted to get a head start on this, partly to condense space in our shop, but mostly to give all of you a sneak-peek of what’s to come for Project:88. A full road-test/review will be had at a later date.

Here’s the finished set. Since we had our wheels mounted we completely gutted the Chevelle in an effort to meet a tight deadline, but the next time you’ll see them, they will be on our Chevelle!

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