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Which wheels will fit my VW Beetle?

Swapping factory rims for something a bit more interesting is often the first step many of us take on the long and usually winding road to making our cars stand out, sit better and generally look a whole lot nicer. So what are the wheel options when it comes to the VW Beetle?

Firstly – and we’re not being killjoys here – quite often original is best and a Beetle on stock rims with the correct paint combination shod in good quality rubber will always look good. Inevitably, there’s always a compromise to be made somewhere if go massively wider or play about with offset. After all, how a car looks when it’s stationary is a whole different ballgame to how it behaves on the road and while it’s entirely possible to fit virtually any wheel to a Beetle, regardless of stud pattern, offset and size you need to consider what effect it might have on ride and roadholding. As is so often the case, if you’re going to fit different wheels it’s wise to stick reasonably close to factory sizing rather than push things too far, albeit with a bit of subtle tweaking along the way to improve appearances… To help you make the right decisions when it comes to wheels, here are some of the elements of wheel fit to build into the equation.

Beetle Back

Wheel size

The overall diameter and width of the wheels you can fit will be dictated by the wings and how much internal clearance you’ve got in terms of suspension and brake components. Most stock Beetle wheels are 5Jx15in (5in wide by 15in in diameter), although some aftermarket wheels come in 14in sizing for more of a ‘Euro’ look. People rarely fit bigger diameter wheels to a Beetle although you can certainly go a tad wider with a 5.5J wheel (5.5in wide) being a popular option or fit a bigger offset. Bear in mind, if you change the rolling diameter of your wheels, it will affect the speedometer reading. Go smaller and it will read faster, bigger and it will read slower than it should.


The amount of wheel offset, in other words, the distance between the rim’s centre line and its mounting surface, is described by the initials ‘ET’ which is German for Einpresstiefe or ‘insertion depth’. Obviously virtually all wheels have a positive ET and on most stock 15in Beetle rims it seems to range from +25 to +34. ET’s important when it comes to clearing steering and suspension components and determining whether the tyre’s likely to rub the inner edge of the wing. ET 45 is a common measurement on aftermarket rims that are likely to give a generally more purposeful ‘wider’ look when fitted.

Wheel OffsetPCD Diagram

Obviously there are tricks such as fitting wheel spacers (they are available in widths from 3-10mm) which will make a rim sit more flush to the arches. Remember, you will need longer bolts as well.

Bolt pattern

This is usually referred to as Pitch Circle Diameter or PCD or the imaginary line that runs through the centre of each of the bolts that hold the wheel on to the car (see above). An early ‘wide five’ PCD of 5×205 for example describes a five-bolt arrangement on a circle with a diameter of 205mm. The PCD on Beetles changed from 5x205mm to 4x130mm from late 1967 with bolt dimensions changing from M12x1.5 (torqued to 10mkg) to M14x1.5 (torqued to 13mkg). The PCD can be altered via plugging, welding and re-drilling but it’s a specialist machine shop job. A simpler solution is to use PCD adaptors which will allow you to fit a variety of wheels from other manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Jaguar or Porsche, but bear in mind these will widen your Beetle’s track. Alternatively, buy redrilled discs and drums. You need to have a think about the centre hole diameter as well in order to clear the hub nuts and dust caps.

Beetle Slot Mag

Common options

If you want to stay broadly factory but want a more unique look, the obvious solution is to fit a fully chromed steel rim with a broadly similar width and ET so it bolts straight on. Alternatively, go for a retro Porsche steel look – 356 style rims are popular. Beyond that, basically it all comes down to the look you’re after; for a Cal-Look pick SSP GT 8-Spoke or Fuchs style, BRMs or ‘Gas Burners’. For a sophisticated factory-plus look Porsche Design 90 style rims still do the trick. Or for a real super cool sixties look Sprintstars might be the way to go. Get an idea of what they are likely to look like on your car by going to shows and seeing other Bugs with them fitted – that’s unless you’re going for something totally leftfield that’s not been seen or tried before.

1958 Beetle Convertible

Other wheel accessories

If you simply want to spruce up the look of your Bug but have a limited budget or want to keep the original rims, you can always opt to fit wheel accessories such as stainless wheeltrims, new hubcaps as well as different locking nuts and nut caps. In fact, the options are virtually limitless…

Beetle Red


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage

11 responses to: Which wheels will fit my VW Beetle?

  1. The ET measurement of the front wheels is also critical for steering stability. The axis of the steering knuckle (the point about which the wheels pivot) should go through the centre of the tyre’s footprint on the road. If it’s too far off that then the steering will pull to one side or the other on an uneven road surface.

  2. I have recently purchased a set of VW heritage wheels assuming they would fit the older 2007 model. Does anyone know if there is a solution? the bolt pattern is the same but the measurement is slightly off 🙁

  3. I have a 1967 VW Bug thats been lowered with drop spindles in the front and cranked down in the rear. I want to put Porsche alloys like the ones on the gold bug pictured here on my 67 but I have the wide bolt pattern. If I use the Heritage wheel adapters will my tires rub the inside of my fenders?
    I also have a CNC machine shop that I can redrill the hubs to press studes in. Is that a better idea than adapters? Were could I buy the studs to press in?
    Thanks for the help
    Martin 310-227-6860

    1. Hi I have a 68 beetle and I want it to look like a low rider. I would like to know what size wheels and rims for the front a s back.

  4. I have a 71 1300 beam beetle with the standard 15” wheels and standard suspension what is the widest tyres I can fit front and back and the tallest side wall ? I’m after a fat tyre look . Cheers

  5. I have EMPI 15×5.5 wheels on my ‘65 vw bug. I need to buy a spare rim/tire. Does the 15”x5.5” rim with 175/65R15 tire fit in the front boot (traditional spare storage space)?

  6. I have a 2007 VW Beetle and need a new rim, or is it called a wheel. At any rate, a replacement is needed and I would like to know if there is a compatible one for this particular car because there does not seem to be any available for this year. Thank you for any advice.

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