The 13x5.5 alloy "Turbine" wheels from an E21 are an easy upgrade to the stock steel 13x5 wheels.
However, the offset is ET18 and places the wheels further outboard. They will "work fine" however this does affect the scrub radius, adds steering effort, increases wheel bearing stress and possible fender rubbing when lowered or trying to fit wide sticky rubber (basically only one or two non-street options). The other issue is the decreasing availability of good R13" tires. Surely buying brand new 14" or 15"wheels and tires at a cost of $700 - $1300 depending on quality. Um, not this guy...
A budget friendly upgrade is to get E30 BMW stock wheels with their better ET30 offset, wider 6 or 6.5" width and larger 14" diameter which opens up a lot more high performance tire options. There are some other budget options such as VW, Miata, or other used wheels you may find within a spacer's width of correct offset but you need to know exactly what you're getting.
I kept it simple and looked for the ubiquitous "E30 BBS Basketweave" wheels. 14x6.5 ET30 is a great fit. I wanted a set that had tires I could use for a little while as well. The hunt was on.
I stumbled across and ad for basketweaves with a tiny photo and poor description on Craigslist. Yes, this is a gamble as typically the ads are "poor on purpose" to hide something. Time to roll the dice.
After a long drive I showed up to find... sad looking chrome basketweaves. Ugh! Only offered on the convertible (I think). Also, they showed corrosion and peeling of the chrome, some rash (expected), one with a slightly bent lip, and mismatch tires brand and sizes... I was willing to walk away but he really just wanted them gone so for around $20 each I brought them home. The photo really does make them look 100 times better than they were!
I considered just flipping them and trying to get $50 extra but I chose to see just how far elbow grease could get me before throwing in the chips.
So yet another project begins.
Project "Zapatos Negros" - Goal: budget beater wheels
Tires - I actually had two good 205-50 tires that could go on the rear of the 2002. The others were 185-65 and 195-70 with the latter not holding air. I'd keep the ideal 185-65 on the front and buy one matching 185 tire to replace the 195.
Rims - I couldn't just leave them chrome as they were too bad. I'd have to strip as much of the flaking chrome off as possible, sand off any oxidation and paint them to at least seal them from the elements and slow the oxidation. I decided on black paint as it would hide imperfections better than trying to make them light silver or darker grey. That's still more "boy racer" than many 2002 owners are comfortable with but it fits my style.
I stripped the oxidation with brass rotary brushes and used 80 grit sanding cones to rough up as much as I could of the chrome. It wasn't perfect but I did as much as I could within reason. I couldn't see spending another few hours to get them perfectly cleaned up as they are still beater rims with blemishes.
Etching primer seems to be the ticket to bite into the scuffed up chrome (very hard) surface. It stuck well to the surface.
I degreased and then used black gloss engine enamel. I could not find gloss wheel paint and engine enamel works just fine and at $5 a can it was budget friendly.
I didn't want to add a clear coat so that any chips or flaking can easily be hit with sandpaper and touched up with a few sprays. In the future I can still take them to get repaired, chrome removed, or media blasted.
Not too bad of a resurrection. Cheap, larger, wider wheels. At $170 invested I could have done worse!