Toning of Rare American Coins and Car Wheels – Are You a Toner?


I was cutting through a parking lot recently, when I noticed a pickup truck with silver alloy wheels. The most distinguishing thing about it was the fact that its silver alloy wheels reminded me of silver coins, rare American silver coins, in fact!

I stood there in amazement. The front wheels looked like they were nicely toned in brown brake dust. The rear wheels looked like beautiful, clean silver coins! The wheels looked identical, except the front were toned and the rear were mint fresh.

I suddenly realized, to the untrained eye, the pretty silver wheels covered with a layer of brown dust hardened on to them, looks like the wheels were neglected by a careless, unconcerned owner. I must admit that’s what I always assumed.

Today’s epiphany showed me just how wrong our judgments can be. This isn’t an act of carelessness or unconcern. It is in fact intentional. That’s right, intentional. The owner cleaned his truck except for the front wheels, on purpose.

I suspected there was a certain faction of car owners that intentionally don’t clean their front alloy wheels. They appreciate the subtle toning as these wheels age. Cleaning them would be a disgrace and certainly frowned upon by others in the cult.

I learned the cult insiders called themselves “toners”. Yes, I know what it rhymes with. Come on, we’re all adults here. You don’t have to be so puerile. Corral the child in you and let’s move on.

As fate would have it, toners deeply despise cleaned wheels. Cleaning isn’t natural, even though the uninitiated are tempted to clean their wheels in an effort to retain their new look.

Latest research reveals that driving with toned alloy wheels has attained a cult status! The darker the toning, the higher the status.

What a wakeup call. I hadn’t realized that some people actually thought this was beautiful and even desirable. I mistakenly applied my standard of clean is pretty, and completely misjudged those who appreciate the subtle beauty of brake dust on their wheels.

I’ve since started looking closely at the patterns the brown grime makes. It is truly something like a piece of art. Then I studied toned alloy wheels in bright sunlight, and at the correct angle, some of them even displayed iridescent hues that are kind of beautiful.

That, of course led me to see my nice clean alloy wheels as something less than desirable. I too wanted toned front wheels. Not to be daunted, I checked around for someone who does artificial toning.

It’s quite a market niche. Instant air brush toning. You don’t have to go to the trouble of waiting for several years to get the toned look. You can have it immediately!

I stood in line at the toning booth and marveled at the artistry of the surly brute doing the application. It was impressive, but as I studied the finished product, as good as it generally looked, there was something not quite right about it.

It was sort of dull and lacked that subtle iridescent quality of wheel toning that has taken years to achieve. Then the applicator asked me if I wanted the rear wheels done. At first, I thought this was nothing more than an upsell.

He explained to me how I would increase my status with rear toned wheels. I drive an older car with drum brakes in the rear. Drum brakes don’t release their brake dust into the air the way disc brakes do.

By toning the rear wheels, it would look like I had four wheel disc brakes. People, especially those who know how to read wheel toning would think my pre-90’s car had four wheel disc brakes and admire it all the more.

Needless to say, I also had the rear alloy wheels toned. Now my car looks spectacular. I haven’t had anyone remark to me about my now brown alloy wheels looking like they’re covered in shoe polish, yet.