When working with an older vehicle—and we say this recognizing that the “older” keeps moving as things keep getting newer—steel wheels are a timeless (and utilitarian) way of keeping classic, timeless style. Not only are they economical due to the nature of their construction (stamping), they are also incredibly durable, easily repairable, and as previously stated, timeless in their good looks.
That is not to say that an older vehicle cannot be dressed up with the latest and greatest aluminum or magnesium technology, and in some cases, may be better suited if the demands require it, but it is hard to argue that there are more classic options than a black or grey steel wheel.
So why were steel wheels used in the first place? Well, before there was such a thing as ‘poverty packs’ when a vehicle was ordered from the factory, steel wheels were the go-to utility rims for trucks and 4×4’s of the world. They were readily available and were easily produced thanks to them being built by a stamping press and a welder, whereas aluminum wheels needed to be cast or forged, then their blanks machined. These aluminum wheels are generally less durable as well unless special alloys or construction methods are used. Where a steel wheel will bend on impact and can be hammered back into shape without structural compromise, aluminum has a tendency to crack and break if too much stress is applied and can easily gall if not worked appropriately to its softness compared to steel.
These economic and durability highlights were all that executives needed when outfitting these vehicles originally for counties that were off the beaten path and needed cheap and easy fixes when their vehicles broke in the bush. That tradition has meant that our timeless steelies truly remain timeless in their ruggedly handsome good looks.