Rick Frazier is rolling on dubs these days.
Frazier has a 2001 Mercedes-Benz S500. He drives the car about 500 miles a month. The sedan, he says, hugs corners, handles more smoothly the faster he accelerates and sports "at least" 20-inch wheels.
Frazier, a family man in his 40s from Rochester Hills, Mich., might be a bit out of the perceived market for mega-sized rims - often referred to as "dubs." But he is part of a growing field of customers who are turning to bigger aftermarket wheels to dress up their vehicles or to improve performance.
Or, in Frazier's case, both.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association estimates that sales of custom wheels exceeded $1 billion in 2002, up nearly 50 percent since 1998.
Even though flashy alloy and gold-plated oversized wheels represent only a portion of the aftermarket wheels industry, "super-sized wheels get a lot of attention," says SEMA President Christopher Kersting.
Aftermarket wheel packages can cost from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Scott Clayton of Belle Tire in Rochester Hills, Mich., says he charges as much as $20,000 for wheel and tire combinations and labor.