*photos by: the author
We investigate wheel options for late-model GM vehicles with the help of Group-A/AutoTrend Wheels
They say it’s all about getting the power to the ground. High-horsepower, whether naturally aspirated or force-fed, means little, unless it can be harnessed and put to the pavement. Getting a car to “hook-up” and launch forward with locomotive like torque and sticky grip is a true art form, with the car acting as the canvas and the running gear, the paints. Proper wheel and tire applications are more than just aesthetics; they are the contact point where a performance car’s potential is brought to bare. That being said, when looking for wheels/tires, you want an expert, a shop whose proprietor and technicians no their stuff.
Group-A/AutoTrend tires and wheels in Lindenhurst, NY is one such place, where your automotive aspirations are met with a professional’s touch. Owner Joe Scarallo, started AutoTrend back in 1983, after arriving from Australia a few years prior. Always a car guy and a mechanic for Ford Australia, Joe brought his passion and wealth of experience to the states for his new venture. Quickly becoming a force in the wheel and tire world, AutoTrend soon became the main importer of ROH wheels in the United States.
Joe Scarallo prides himself on the fact, that with his exclusive Scarallo Motorsport wheels, AutoTrend accomplished many firsts, including offering sizes, offsets and fitment applications for cars that had few options. The Early ‘90s saw the advent of Scarallo Motorsport’s slick five-star ZR6 rim. Joe had worked directly with factory designers to bring the ZR6 up to speed for the American market.
AutoTrend specific versions of the ZR6, found their way onto awesome GM performance cars, such as the 1993-94 Pontiac/SLP Firebird Firehawk and 1994-96 Chevrolet Impala SS. More recently, Scarallo Motorsport were first in developing a 20×10 and 20×11-inch wheel for the potent new 5th-generation V8 Camaros, prior to the release of the 1LE and ZL1 models.
The popularity of the ZR6 rim eventually led to other exclusive AutoTrend- Scarallo Motorsport designs, such as the ZS, Fury and Drift-R. Since its debut in the late-‘90’s, the Drift-R has become a modern iteration of the iconic Cragar SS and American Racing Torque Thrust; gracing many late-model musclecars in varied sizes, colors and finishes.
The late ‘90s also saw Joey Jr. joining his father at the helm. By this time, Joey had etched himself into the world of racing. Starting out in Karts on Long Island, Joey soon became a force in World Challenge GT, North American Trans Am and even NASCAR. Joey’s varied and extensive experience on the race circuit became an integral if not invaluable part of AutoTrend’s on going success.
With the opening of a huge distribution warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona, AutoTrend now also known as Group-A wheels, referring to Joey’s most frequently run GT race class, was spreading their popular products to the west coast. Drawing from their race-proven set-ups, Group-A/AutoTrend continued to apply that track-tested R&D to their streetcar applications. In Joe senior’s words, “ It always has been and always will be, form follows function.”
That mantra and business model has been with Group-A/AutoTrend wheels since the beginning, carrying the company into the new millennium. From the onset Joe wanted Scarallo Motorsport designs to stand out from the rest, but not just wheels and rubber alone.
Early on, Joe was aware that suspension upgrades such as lowering springs provide the final touch to any wheel/tire package. Just looking good was not enough; proper function was paramount. Turning radius, clearance, drivability and safety were all part of a Group-A treatment, with lowering the car being part of an overall visual and performance-enhancing package. Working with and utilizing the best names in the business, such as Eibach, Tokico and Pedders, Group-A/AutoTrend Wheels is known for providing better than OEM products with superior quality and performance. Joe states, “it was always about the biggest, baddest, wheels, but they have to fit right.”
Adept at supplying wheels, tires and suspension pieces for most popular performance cars on the road, Group-A has extensive experience working with and racing late-model GM machines. Road race thrashing their specific set-ups, whether on C5 or C6 Corvettes or their ’06 World Challenge GTO, has lead to a wide –ranging product line.
The experience of this author is also worth mentioning in regards to Group-A/AutoTrend’s expertise. I was a 19-year-old punk in my sophomore year of college, when I first met Joe Scarallo. The proud owner of a 1990 Pontiac McLaren Turbo Grand Prix, I was on the hunt for new rims and had heard about AutoTrend from a friend who had purchased his wheels there. I was aware my rare, limited edition, front-drive Pontiac allowed for few appropriate aftermarket wheel/tire applications, so I followed my friends advice.
As if he was expecting me to arrive, Joe took a quick glance at my shiny red Grand Prix and said, “I have a wheel you’re gonna love”. After showing me a ZR6 on display, he mounted two wheels to the driver-side to check brake clearance, visual appeal and overall fitment. Needless to say I was sold. I went from a 16×8-inch factory set-up to 17×9-inchers with Sumitomo rubber at all four corners.
The exclusive Scarallo Motorsport wheels had red-painted coves, to match my GP’s body color, with a brushed-aluminum five-star and a polished aluminum lip. No spacers needed, as the fitment was perfect. My 19-year-old lead-foot put the Turbo GP through its paces, with no vibration, rubbing or any drama at all. The ride was smooth as silk, as if my Turbo GP came with these wheels from the factory.Experiences like mine are not the exception, but rather the norm for Group-A/AutoTrend wheels, as they have cemented their reputation over the past three-decades. Working with wheel designers and vehicle manufactures has allowed Scarallo Motorsport to offer an array of styles, fitments, colors and finishes to their customers. For the late model GM-EFI crowd, the choices are plentiful.
For Chevrolet Corvette, C4 and C5 models, wheel choices include the ZS, Snyper, Drift-R and RT in 17-, 18- and 19-inch, with C6 getting Drift-R applications only. All applications are available in staggered fitments with an infinite array of color and finish choices including, chrome, black chrome, gloss, matte and body matched paint colors. Available options are coming soon for 2014+ C7 Stingray.
For 3rd-generation Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, choices include, Drift-R, RT and ZS in 17, 18 and 19-inch applications.
The 4th-generation Camaro and Firebird can wear all of the same wheels as the third-generation car, as well as, the Adrenalin, Azzurro and Fury also in 17- to 19-inch applications They’re available staggered fitments. Wheel widths vary and apply to wheel size and proper fitment, ranging from 8-inch to 11-inch for most street applications.
Drift-R in 20-inch diameter.
Adrenaline, Azzurro, Drift-R and Fury available in 17-, 18- and 19-inch.
Drift-R, Mach II, ZR6 and Fury, in 18-, 19- and 20-inch fitments. Chevrolet SS fitments are the same as Pontiac G8.
The Kappa twins can be fitted with 18- and 19-inch versions of Drift-R, Fury, Adrenaline, and Azzurro
The Buick Grand National can wear 17-19-inch Drift-R’s, RT and ZS wheels.
Other late model GM-EFI platforms covered, though not directly listed on their site, are the G-body and W-body Chevy Monte Carlo and Pontiac Grand Prix, Cadillac CTS-V, even the General’s trucks and SUV’s. All wheels can be mated with their vast selection of Toyo, Sumitomo, Yokohama, Vredestein or OEM brand tires, depending on application/size and customer preference.
Custom applications are never out of the question, as Group-A has demonstrated on several special vehicles, such as their 1988 GMC Sierra, 1995 Impala SS and 2006 Pontiac GTO as shown here.
To accomplish the perfect fit of the 19-inch G8 GT wheels onto the 17/ 18-inch wheel-equipped Goat- the techs at Group-A/AutoTrend, machined the center bore of the G8 wheel to be hub-centric, providing a factory-fit with enhanced looks and performance. Along with the G8 wheels, the GTO received a set of Eibach lowering springs and Pedders struts/shocks, completing the package and creating a low mean stance.
Future plans for Group-A/AutoTrend wheels include, design and development of ultra high-performance three-piece-modular wheels for the new C7 Corvette Stingray and offering Scarallo Motorsport wheels as part of dedicated performance packages. Working with industry leading local performance shops like American Racing Headers and world renown names like K&N filters, customers will be able to one-stop-shop, enhancing their late model GM cars appearance, power, performance, sound and overall character.
Since obtaining his driver’s license way back in 1987, Andrew’s automotive interests have revolved around late-model, GM EFI iron. Predominantly a Pontiac guy, he had grown-up driving and experiencing many EFI cars from the ’80s to the present. Since 2008, he’s been a freelance writer/photographer for multiple niche auto enthusiast magazines and websites. Andrew claims to have a short yet definitve list of passions, in which late-model performance cars, hold a top spot.