The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

17 February 2007

Big wheel keep on turnin'

Spinners, those absurd little wheel attachments that keep going after the wheel itself has stopped, are so 2004, so it's obviously time to ban them:

New York State is taking fresh legal steps to ban spinning hubcaps and wheels. Bill Number 1640 is presently being considered by the Senate Transportation Committee, and it would make such wheels illegal statewide. The bill was introduced previously, but it is now gaining traction after being reintroduced by State Senator John Sabini. The measure would fine vehicle owners up to $750 for a third (or subsequent) violation.

I evaluate all automotive add-ons with two thoughts in mind:

  • What effect do they have on performance?

  • How do they enhance the driving experience?

On these criteria, spinners would seem to fail: adding unsprung weight, even nicely-balanced unsprung weight, is something to be discouraged, and the only people who can enjoy the, um, display are outside the vehicle.

Then again, if some clown really wants to spend four figures to make his vehicle look even more ridiculous — you never see these on a car that wasn't ridiculous to begin with — it's up to the state to prove that he's a safety hazard or something, and so far, New York hasn't done that.

Now I might go for the Bedardatron:

You've seen those wheel-well lights all the Chicanos have on their Chevys out on the West Coast. Well, this is the ne plus ultra of wheel-well lights. This is a strobe, a scaled-up version of that little gizmo that checks the speed of your record player.

Record player? Anybody remember those?

The machinery is no sweat. All it takes is a magnetic pickup on each wheel that acts as a trigger. Then a knob on the dashboard lets you speed up or slow down the strobe. All the necessary hardware costs a coupla bucks wholesale.

But the effect out on Van Nuys Boulevard will be worth a million. Zero out the knob and your wheels stop, just like the dots on the edge of a turntable. Patrol the drive-ins, your raised white letters as righteous and readable as a Bible in the hands of a reformed sinner.... You can always dial up a little reverse with the knob, and give those wheels a nice backspin — make them fight with the mind like the stagecoach wheels in old Roy Rogers movies.

Of course, this was conceived way back in 1982, when raised white letters on tires actually weren't mocked and vilified, but it makes more sense — and probably weighs less — than spinners.

Posted at 1:11 PM to Driver's Seat


A buddy of mine pointed out that they make it supremely difficult to gauge the rate of acceleration (or deceleration) of the vehicle in question. There are plenty of other cues to use, but he's right. I wish he hadn't pointed it out, because now it's extremely aggravating when I notice it.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin at 9:24 PM on 17 February 2007

Perhaps it's because they're big and shiny and moving, they'll draw your attention even if you're looking at something else.

I see maybe one set of these every other month, which makes me wonder if there's some socioeconomic issue at work here: I go through many different parts of town, but hardly all of them.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:37 PM on 17 February 2007