So here’s a question for you: Were there more A90 Supras at SEMA 2019, or more cars sitting on RAYS Volk Racing TE37s?
As Mark continued his photographic assault on the year’s biggest and wildest automotive trade show, this is one question that popped into our minds. I mean, we’re talking about a wheel design that was penned 25 years ago, and one that even the folks at RAYS Engineering could have never known would become such a classic.
But I don’t think calling the TE37 a ‘classic’ actually does the design justice. You see, if it was a classic, it would be a wheel used on some retro-themed builds to give a sense of nostalgia, or to cast our minds back to a specific time in automotive history.
But what the TE37 still manages to do – and it’s pretty incredible if you think about it – is maintain relevance. And it will be doing the exact same thing next year and in many years to come, because it’s simply a timeless design. It may as well be on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art along with another timeless design from Japan, the Mazda FD3S RX-7. But I digress…
This resilience against time is partly because the pinnacle of the Volk Racing line-up has been refined and subtly redesigned to continue its reign as a go-to wheel for any build.
The TE37V seen here on Tommy Babiarz’s ND Mazda Miata is the perfect example of adaptation; the recognizable 6-spoke design recessed deeply on a staggered lip, almost gives a 2 or 3-piece look despite the wheel still being produced with RAYS’ forging process.
Coloring, finishes and various editions of the wheel have allowed it to satisfy the demands of those that want to fine tune the look to their specific build.
On this Civic Type R, diamond-cut lips allow for dark wheels housed inside equally dark carbon fiber fenders to really pop.
Over the last decade, RAYS has spent a great deal of time not only refining the metallurgy of its wheels and playing around with rigidity where it counts the most – the TE37RTs that were on Project GT-R being an example – but also making it harder for their original designs to be copied. Special laser-cut logos and detailing are some of the most obvious measures.
SEMA being a custom show, you’ll always find a few examples of bespoke coloring, like this chrome/copper finish that Mark spotted on an NSX.
Creating a popular design is one thing, but the TE37 does have the uncanny ability to look good on any application.
From sports cars to little compact SUV crossovers like this Nissan Kicks sitting pretty at the Nissan stand and sporting unmissable screwed-on flares.
Then of course there are the off-road applications.
The design is altered and adapted to fit in, but it’s still very much a TE37.
This Audi Q5 fits somewhere in between – the ‘regular’ modern TE37 look mated to higher profile tires.
Then there’s the other thing the TE37 does well compared to so many other wheels: not look weird or awkward when staggered offsets/widths are used on the same car. The A90 Supra and R35 GT-R are prime examples, where with more aggressive cases they require a deep concave look at the rear and a flatter one at the front – a deeper dish versus almost no dish at all. The TE37 naturally adapts to this.
Seeing the earlier iterations of the TE37 is always a nice reminder of where it all span from; an overall simpler design with a barely noticeable taper to the six spokes as they curve back and meet the rim.
Twenty five years on, the TE37 remains the statement it has always been: a wheel that was born out of pure function. But one that due to its form and sheer simplicity continues to be the top choice for so many.
If you’re like me, you look at new cars that get released every year and wonder what a set of appropriately-sized TE37s would look like.
It doesn’t really matter what that car is or where it came from – the TE37 adds an instant and quantifiable slap of JDM-ness. And I bet that if we revisit this topic in another 10 years, nothing would have changed. What do you think?
Dino Dalle Carbonare
Photos by Mark Riccioni