Did I mention wheel fitment is tricky? As the wheel goes through its arc of suspension travel, where the wheel "sits" in the fender changes. Now that I had adjustable suspension arms, I could infinitely tweak the suspension until it was adjusted correctly at the ride height I though was suitable. There are a variety of tools that can help you accomplish this, ranging from a jack stand and some balls of string, to the device above which is a camber gauge and a sturdy mount that clips on to the face of the wheel to provide accurate measurement. Although my car looked like it was adjusted correctly, it was actually quite off which would create a whole new set of problems once I made the appropriate adjustments to bring everything in spec.
Toe plates and tape measures can be used to measure and adjust toe in for the front and back wheels. Jackstands are also placed in the front and rear of the car, and then string is used between the stand to make sure the wheels are parallel to each other so the car can track straight. Although professional alignment shops use fancier equipment with computers and lasers, rough alignments like these can help you get in the ballpark as you continue to tweak your suspension setup.
Remember that rear wheel that "fit"? Turns out the rear of my car had way too much negative camber. 1.5 degrees of negative camber is the max you would want in back at ride height. When I brought the wheel in spec, suddenly the rear wheel that tucked inside the rear fender now protruded a good 1.5 inches. We did not think there was any way to get this wheel to fit the stock body, so I made the decision to purchase new wheels.
The wheel I chose was the JNC 014, which is basically a copy of a Volk TE37. How much of a copy? - the eagle-eyed among you will notice that this wheel says "forged" on the lip, even though it is a cast wheel. Volk TE37s run around 700-800 per wheel. These were only $145 a piece. Since I was still experimenting, I wanted to get the car dialed in with an inexpensive wheel before I dropped big coin on a set of name brand wheels. As my build progressed, this would prove to be a wise move...
Shout out to WillTheyFit.com - this is a great online wheel and tire calculator that makes it easy to visualize how changing wheel size will effect fitment. The new JNC wheels are 17x8.25 with a +32 offset. The key here is that they poke out almost 33mm less than the old 17x9.5 wheels, which should help considerably with the fitment issues I was having. The plan was to run a 225/45/17 tire in the rear (which I already had) and a 215/40/17 tire in the front.
I was unhappy with the fitment of the fiberglass Origin front fender, so I reverted back to the factory metal fender. Here, you can see fitment is pretty much spot on. No more rubbing issues in front!
Rear fitment was good but not perfect with the 215/40/17 tire. I decided to throw on a 225/45/17 tire I had to see if the extra tire "meat" would help...
Here's how the car sat with the 215 on front and the 225 in the rear. If I was going to run the car without a body kit, this setup would be just about perfect.
While I had the front fenders off again to swap back to the steel fenders, I took the time to "tuck" the front wire harness. Since the wheels take up more space in the fender well when they are lower and wider, it is necessary to move the wire harness up above the pinch weld to prevent the tire rubbing against the harness and causing breaks or shorts in the wire. Taking the time to perform little tasks like this now will prevent bigger headaches in the future.
Even though these new wheels fit the body well, once I added the body kit, it would become clear that something wasn't quite right. I can't even show a picture of these wheels with my Origin Aggressive body kit mounted - the body kit stuck out too far. Luckily, my friend Omar is an S chassis nut like me and has several 240s... and body kits. I was able to test fit his Origin Stylish body kit (one step less aggressive than the Aggressive kit). With stock fenders, I still felt like it wasn't quite right.
Omar also let me try this - his prized Spirit Rei kit. Immediately I felt like this kit meshed very well with the lines of the 240. It did not protrude as much from the sides of the body, which I liked. Things were starting to come together.