The time has come... My first ever optional Westy upgrade that cost me over a grand. I could have just gotten new tires for $600 or so, but my dreams were much larger than just new shoes.
Juanita came with the stock 14" mag wheels and some Continental Vanco tires. They were great for the road, very quiet, and provided adequate gas mileage. However I knew that once it came time for new shoes, I wanted to step up to 16" wheels and tires for a variety of reasons; stability, longevity, clearance, safety and overall awesome. While I was content on acquiring the standard 16" aluminum wheels offered by GoWesty and VanCafe, or even tracking down some used 16" CLK wheels, when GoWesty released their 16" steel wheels last year, it was love at first sight.
As the tread indicators on my Vancos continued to grow closer over the past few road tips, I almost pulled the trigger when GoWesty had their 15% off sale over Thanksgiving, put I passed, crossing my fingers that they would have a similar sale around Christmas. I should have taken the 15% opportunity, as GoWesty only did double GoBucks over Christmas and New Years, but it was still a deal. Brand new 16" steel wheels powder coated in black with Michelin Defenders mounted and balanced, shipped to my door with tax for ~$1,400. I also now have $140 in GoBucks aching to be used up, maybe a deep cycle coach battery soon?
In the process I also ordered up two of the rear spring shims to help Juanitas saggin butt, and the 3rd brake light kit to keep that butt intact. I installed the 3rd brake light kit myself, which was actually quite easy thanks to the installation video. At only $30, this is one of the best investments I've made for my van.
Currently lacking a driveway, and my street being a bit sloped, doing them spring shims here wasn't in the cards, so I had local guys at Gosselin Tire put the shims in, wheels on, and an hook up an alignment. The end result was amazing.
I hadn't yet driven a Westy with 16" wheels before, and if I had, I would have ordered them from my phone before ever exiting the vehicle. The ride, handling, cornering, all the little bumps and dips on my street almost disappeared. It feels like a whole new vehicle. I also have a few surf spots with unmaintained sand roads full of holes and contours, I was seriously in awe of how I floated over all the small stuff, when compared to the amusement park ride on the old 14"s. I picked the black, as I plan on doing bed liner on the rocker panels and around the grill to keep the rock chips and knicks from starting to rust. Hopefully by the end of summer I'll have enough saved up to have this professionally done. Below is a before and after comparison I tried to take on the same flat parking area, though I had to borrow the handicapped spot for a minute as the before pic spot was taken upon my arrival to retrieve my Westy.
I've now got a set of my original 14" wheels for sale on craigslist and The Samba, though I think I've priced them a little high, but I'm in no hurry to get rid of them. I'm hoping that since I live in such a remote location, someone locally may want them and my price might be reasonable when compared to shipping them in from elsewhere. Any takers?
Here's another picture of the finished product at one of my local surfing zones. So stoked.