If someone was to ask you to think of a Japanese wheel – any wheel – chances are the Volk Racing TE37 would pop into your mind. There is no doubt that this particular six-spoke, one-piece forged rim has come to be a defining detail in the JDM aftermarket scene. Its ageless design has stood up to the test of time, slowly but steadily evolving through the years, boasting better and stronger construction and spawning off a variety of other versions that, to this day, continue to be desired.
So I thought I’d take a little step back in history and see how the TE37 came to be. Having owned two set of these wheels – the latest soon to be fitted to Project GT-R – the TE37 is a wheel I have always appreciated and liked, and also photographed on many cars over the years.
RAYS launched the TE37 in 1996 with the idea of creating a wheel for both motorsports and street applications. The name itself “Touring Evolution” emphasized the direct link with the racing world and RAYS continuously developed and advanced this particular model with the feedback and data it received from teams that used the wheel.
The two main aspects that were focused on were ultra-light weight, and maximum rigidity. The TE37’s six-spoke design would give the best possible stress dispersion over the whole inner and outer circumference and efficiently take the abuse of competitive racing. If you are wondering where the ’37’ comes from, it was the target weight of the entry-level size: 3.7kg for the 15x6JJ.
To say the wheel was an immediate hit would be a gross understatement. Enthusiasts loved the fact that they could fit a wheel that was being used in the N1 Taikyu (now known as Super Taikyu) series, on their own street cars.
Tuners across Japan jumped on the TE37s and it quickly became the demo car standard. The wheel could be seen at paddocks across Japan and in gymkhana trials that were quickly becoming popular in the mid to late ’90s. Some tuners like Top Secret collaborated with RAYS to make its own special versions of the TE37, as seen above fitted to its legendary gold BNR34 demo car in a shot I took back in 2002 at Tsukuba.
RAYS was always trying to come up with innovative ideas and one was to use a matte bronze finish for the TE37 that would not require any paint so as to keep the weight of the rim at a minimum. The satin finish was to become one of the most recognizable factors of the wheel and its maker.
The TE37 was an especially big hit with the GT-R crowd who literally went crazy for the lightweight design. RAYS offered what quickly came to be known as ‘GT-R size’ or 18×9.5J +12 – a perfect mix of width and height that would allow 265/35R18 tires and get the most out of the RB26-powered generation of Skylines. This is still true today, except more and more people are experimenting with wider rubber and therefore wider rims. RAYS offered (and still does) the possibility to customize the coloring for a small fee of ¥3,000 (approx US$30) per rim, allowing you to go color-matching crazy!
The Top Secret Z33 was one of the first new-gen Fairlady’s I saw wearing the TE37s.
The above shot was taken at a Top Secret organized soukoukai at Tsukuba around 2002.
In the early 2000s RAYS launched the 19-inch version of the TE37, and I recall shooting my friend’s R34 just after it was fitted with a custom-painted set in that size.
The TE37 dominated the field in the JGTC series with countless top level GT500 teams running the center-lug version of the rim. From epic cars like the Denso Supra…
… to the Raybrig NSX…
… as well as the Arta NSX.
Of course these wheels were actually the Forged MAG – magnesium alloy versions that, thanks to the addition of the lighter metal into the mix, boasted an even lighter weight. A street version of the TE37 MAG was on sale for a few years at around a 60 percent premium over its regular aluminum alloy counterpart and was only offered in a deep blue hue.
When Keiichi Tsuchiya set the record around Tsukuba with the #8 Arta NSX – a 51.875-second lap…
… the car was of course running on TE37 Forged MAGs.
RAYS pretty much made the TE37 available for any sort of application – creating convex versions to be used with smaller cars like the Nissan March in the March cup, to large PCD versions to be used on 4x4s, as well as catering to import and exotic cars like Porsche and Ferrari. An example is the T&E Vertice Design F360 Modena that was shown at the 2003 Tokyo Auto Salon, riding on big 19-inch, flat-face, matte bronze versions.
But the TE37 will always be a performance wheel…
… used in time attack…
… as much as drifting and any other discipline!
With the unveil a few years back of the ‘Vintage’ version of the wheel, the TE37V, owners of older more classic cars have been able to tap into the whole ‘Touring Evolution’ look beautifully with some awesome, smaller diameter deep-dish offerings, like those fitted to the Rocky Auto RB30-powered S30 above.
With the popularity of time attack continuously growing, the Super Lap version has quickly become one of the most popular special versions. With a reduction in weight of about 400 grams per wheel…
… it’s a good way to lower unsprung weight without any negative trade-offs.
The red ‘SL’ spoke has also become an instantly recognizable feature, or instant kudos shall we say!
RAYS has no intention of stopping the TE37 evolution and this year brought out the Rigid Tune variant, boasting six percent stiffer construction without impacting on the SL’s lightness.
It’s only offered in Burning Red to emphasize its performance oriented application. Tuning shops and enthusiasts alike have really embraced the RT with more and more sets turning up fitted to demo and customer cars.
Hence why I can’t wait to get mine fitted to Project GT-R!
RAYS recently released a new size for the TE37Vs – a 17-inch version specifically for the new 86/FR-S/BRZ/GT86, sporting a PCD of 100 and either an 8JJ or 9JJ wide rim. This will be the choice for those that can’t live without a deep-dish look! RAYS is currently working the next, or third, generation of the TE37 taking what they have learned with the SL and RT and pushing the boundaries of lightness and rigidity even further. Plus we hear some interesting R35 GT-R applications are coming soon too. Here’s to the next 17 years of the TE37!
Many thanks to RAYS for providing information and pictures for this post.
Dino Dalle Carbonare
I'd love to rock TE37's on my Ariel Atom, but they don't come in sizes that would fit. I need them to be 4x100 with 15x8et25 up front and 17x9 (offset range between 20 or 30) for the rear. They make the right sizes, but not in the needed bolt pattern.
@DavidWoolery rebuild the hubs
Thanks for the info. And just in time since I'm in the market for rims now. Glad to see that there is TE37 with four holes as fitted on the Rocky Auto's S30. I guess it would be perfect for my first rim after reading this.
is a true legend for JDM wheels..... it looks superb on a R34 even is a 1/18 die cast.
I remember when you posted the articel about the Top Secret Competizione R. Such a beast. Also what a badass appearance it has in Tokyo Drift lol. Awesome Wheels. That 19" TE37 fit the car so good!!
TE37 has been always my all time favourite wheels for my JDM cars... and is perfect match for my GTR R34.... Even my die cast car I use to modify in a TE37.... check this out http://www.utlmodels.com/inc/gallery/GTR/GTR4.jpg
I agree, Dino and the volk supporters are correct. It's that old saying "you get what you pay for" supreme quality and the satisfaction of knowing your supporting the original company. I have Work Meisters 18x10.5 S1 3 piece and the quality is astounding. At around 6 grand new without rubber here in NZ that's near on half the cost of the vehicle (R32 GTS-T coupe 450hp ATW) but they look nectar as, definitely worth every cent I believe.
With recognition like this in Speedhunters, I would like to say something to people who buy the knockoff/replicas/etc. How can you cheap out and cheat out $1000+ USD to the fakes that attempt to recreate a RACING wheel for your application? VOLK is such a great company and sells a great product, why wouldn't you want to buy the real thing? Save up a little bit longer and be rewarded with craftsmanship and quality. Great writeup.
I used to think TE37s were vastly overrated and overused, but now I see they have an interesting history. Nice article!
Awesome write up and great to know what it actually all means! Glad my car came with these wheels :D
i have them. te37v bronze. amazing design. one of the only wheels to look good on R34 and JZA80 in my opinion. Especially jza80 has trouble finding good wheels.
Cool history lesson. Did not know what the TE stood for. Do one on the CE28N and RE30! My guess is they stand for "Circuit Evolution" and "Racing Evolution" ?
Am I the only one who never really drooled for these rims? The hell of a good well and definitely iconic, but I just never viewed them as "all that"
Just my two cents.
When I was younger, prior to buying a car, I would put TE37's on every car in Gran Turismo 1/2. Since then, I lusted after owning a set. After finding a rare set in 16x8 +42 4x100, I never tire of looking at my car. Great article. I didn't know some of the history behind the wheel.
Probably the most iconic aftermarket wheel out of japan. Sadly they have numerous knock offs now. Cars are already an expensive hobby, so people using the "I can't afford it" mentality is a bit ironic when you consider factoring that $500 coilovers + cheap $500 wheels is still $1k which isn't cheap.
These sorrybutt knock off companies can't create their own designs? I would hate to see Rays Volk Racing go towards bankruptcy some day . I still hate the fact that HKS USA is no longer here because of said factors, and i supported them.
I've had TE's on my car since I got her in '07. I only recently switched to CE28's a couple months ago. You're making me regret my decision :(
This is a great article. The TE37 ends up on most of my Forza Motorsport garage. One day my car will be worth more than a new set, which cannot be said right now!
Dino, I'd love to see a retrospective on Tsukuba from 10 or so years ago. A spotlight-o-rama classic?
Cool to hear a little on the history of TEs, one of the few wheels that look good on almost everything.
Any chance of a history of Rays as a company, or a look at their design and manufacturing process.
very cool, wouldnt mind seeing the history of some more iconic wheels / parts
work meisters, ce28's etc etc
Always was a fan, Form following function and what not!
Have a pair of 15" bronze and 16" white, at the moment least :)
I am a worshipper at the TE37 altar, and firmly believe a set of TE37's in whatever form/spec will make any, and I mean ANY automobile look better. Every. single. last one of them.
Great post, heck of an iconing wheel. I always thinking of the ce28n next to the te37, the other sister haha.