Take A Closer Look At Halibrand's New Wheels For Tesla Model 3

10 min read

Take A Closer Look At Halibrand's New Wheels For Tesla Model 3

10 min read

Founded in Culver City, California back in 1947, Halibrand Engineering made a name for itself developing wheels for race cars competing at the Indy 500 and other AAA-sanctioned single-seater events. Both aesthetically and mechanically, Halibrand’s magnesium wheel design was a dramatic departure from the wire wheels that were common back in the day, offering not only a distinctive look, but strength and weight advantages as well.

“This was cutting edge stuff back in the day,” says Halibrand senior design engineer Greg Whittle. “Halibrand was the first company to have a mag wheel on the market, and it quickly caught on with the performance crowd.”

Perhaps best known for the wheel commonly seen on the Shelby Cobras of the early 1960s, Halibrand earned a reputation as a go-to manufacturer for racers and enthusiasts that were looking to take their rides to the next level. Though Halibrand Engineering saw its fair share of tumult in later years and went into hibernation for a time, the company was recently brought under the Holley Performance banner and is now once again committed to bringing the latest tech and design innovations to contemporary performance vehicles.

“We’re actually looking to hit several new markets for the brand,” Whittle says. “The electric vehicle stuff is new to everyone, really, but we’re also focusing on late model muscle cars as well as a few other key segments. At the same time, Halibrand is also working on a totally separate project where we’re picking up some of the classic styling and retrofitting it to new applications. So we’re looking to preserve that brand heritage while also forging ahead.”

New Shoes For The New Hot Rods

Halibrand HB003 Red Telsa RF Quarter

Halibrand has a number of different projects in the hopper right now, but the first to come to market is the Hyperkinetic HB003 Series wheel. Launching with fitments for Tesla Model 3, Whittle tells us that the design was inspired by the wheels used on the Tesla Model S Plaid prototypes that were seen testing at Germany’s famed Nürburgring road course back in 2019.

“There’s a bit of a vacuum in the marketplace for Tesla wheels – there are some companies out there that are supporting these cars, but they’re few and far between. Variety and availability is limited for these owners right now, so we definitely saw an opportunity to introduce something that’s reasonably priced, looks cool, and fits properly. But the big thing for us at Halibrand is that we’re making wheels that are application-specific. These wheels were made specifically for these cars.”

If you’ve ever shopped for wheels before, you know that it can sometimes be an arduous process – you might need to figure out not only what size wheel you need, but also the offset that’s going to fit correctly, and what tire you need for proper fitment as well. “We’re taking a lot of that guesswork out here. We’re telling you that for this specific vehicle, this specific wheel will fit, and here’s a recommended tire that will also fit.”

And since these wheels are application-specific, the design of the Hyperkinetic HB003 Series wheel takes a number of different characteristics that are unique to Tesla’s vehicle designs into consideration as well.

Halibrand HB003 Anthracite Staggered fit

“We have good clearances so you don’t run the risk of rubbing against the fenders or suspension components, even on a lowered vehicle,” Whittle notes. “We also have multiple sizes and widths available, so if you’re concerned about aerodynamic drag and range capabilities, you can go with a stock width if you prefer. But if you’re looking to get a bit more rubber on the ground, we also offer wider wheels to enhance performance.

Halibrand’s Hyperkinetic HB003 Series wheel is also manufactured using a flow forming process that makes these wheels both light and strong. “Each wheel is about five pounds lighter than the factory Turbine wheel,” says Whittle. “We really focused on weight with these wheels because we’re very aware of aerodynamic concerns, along with rolling resistance and things like that. By making these lighter than the factory wheel, you should see some improved range from them when moving over to a similar size, and if you’re putting a wider tire on, it kind of negates any range penalty you might have seen otherwise.”

But it’s not just about function here – form was important to Halibrand as well. “We really wanted to maximize the flushness of the wheels to the fenders. If you look at a stock Tesla, you’ll notice that the wheels are inset quite a bit, and that’s to get them out of that aerodynamic stream. We didn’t want to use wheel spacers or anything like that, so we designed the wheels to flush them up with the fender to make them look nice and aggressive.”

The all-wheel drive Model 3s also have unique hub geometry that Halibrand needed to take into account in order to ensure that these wheels would work the way they should with both AWD and RWD models. Additionally, the company designed the wheels to be compatible with the factory center caps and lug nuts in order to keep things simple for the customer, but they offer lug nuts of their own design, too. “The factory lug nuts are open, so the stud is exposed,” Whittle explains. “So occasionally you’ll run into an issue where that stud rusts because of that. But the ones we sell as replacements are closed so that stud isn’t exposed and you don’t have to worry about corrosion setting in.”

Along with the multiple wheel diameters and widths that will be available at launch this summer, the Hyperkinetic HB003 Series will be offered in a silver hue as well as gunmetal gray color called Anthracite.

“We’re essentially doing three ‘kits’ of each size and color that will be available,” Whittle says. “The first would be a setup where all four wheels are the same offset and width, which allows you to rotate all four wheels to any corner of the vehicle. We also have a version with optimized offsets and narrow widths to really get the wheel flush with the fender, and the third kit has 8.5-inch-wide front wheels and 10-inch-wide rears to get a little more tire under the back of the car to improve grip.”

The Tesla Model 3 wheels will initially be offered in 19 and 20-inch diameters at launch, with kits that contain Tesla-compatible TPMS sensors and lug nuts available as well.

Halibrand HB003 black Tesla in motion


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