Theme: Aftermarket – Let’s All Think About This, Shall We?

I will try to focus this one on the aftermarket wheels and not the car they happen to adorn.

1991 Opel Omega B2

It’s a 1999-2003 Opel Omega (B2 to those in the know). As I said before, in the aftermarket we find tricky ground. Who am I to say these wheels are not the ones for this car? My argument is that the wheels have really low-profile rubber and they do not help the rest of the suspension do its job which in this car’s case was high-speed stability and comfort rather than maximum grip at intermediate speeds. Continue reading “Theme: Aftermarket – Let’s All Think About This, Shall We?”

Theme: Wheels – Going In Circles

Once upon a time, there was a belief that the ideal way to complement the shape of a wheel was… by adding circles. That time was the Eighties.

SONY DSC
The, somewhat notorious, GKN ‘Pepperpot’ Wheel

Perception is a fickle beast. Take Jaguar’s XJ saloon: an undisputed classic to most, yet, as far as its image is concerned, the devil is in the details. In the UK, its elegant silhouette cannot quite strip off the odour of Pub Owner’s Favourite. In Germany, on the other hand, Jaguar still suffers from being perceived as a much more elitist brand than its actual pricing suggests. Which is why running a classic XJ is viewed as an enterprise closer to owning a Rolls-Royce than a relatively run-of-the-mill S-class, in terms of the financial commitment necessary. But that only half explains why an XJ is considered the exclusive domain of silver haired golfing enthusiasts on these shores. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – Going In Circles”

Theme : Wheels – Citroën’s Plastic Wonder

From a time when Citroën led the way – and, of course, nobody followed

SMs
I know which I’d choose

The standard wheels for the Citroen SM were heavy steel items, clad with hubcaps. These are made from stamped stainless steel, held firmly to the wheel by a centre bolt. The centre section is painted satin black and the sections between the outer fins are painted in satin silver-grey. There are holes in the hubcaps that allow the actual wheel bolts to show. Although that might not have been the intent, there is the distinct feeling that they were trying to ape the fancy US wheels fitted to any US muscle car of the period. As such, I have never found these hubcaps entirely convincing and, although time has made me more tolerant of them, at the time I even found them a bit tacky. As I know, they are also a pain to restore, since paint never likes sticking to stainless steel. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Citroën’s Plastic Wonder”

Theme: Wheels – The BBS RS

A prince amongst wheels – in praise of a design classic

The BBS RS - image via devianart
The BBS RS – image: devianart

Power ballads and poodle hair weren’t the only big things in the 1980s. Wheels were too, particularly the aftermarket alloy variety. At a time when most cars were still fitted with pressed steel wheel rims, the aftermarket was big business. With bodykits and Rude Mercs abounding amongst the hotshoe contingent, having the right set of mags mattered. Continue reading “Theme: Wheels – The BBS RS”

Theme – Wheels: BMW E60 5 Series 19 inch

This month’s theme provides the opportunity for a mild personal indulgence, a chance to get a slightly geeky obsession with a specific detail out of my system – I hope nobody minds.

Lovely Bowlies - as Bulgin used to write
Lovely Bowlies – as Bulgin used to write

I rarely feel very strongly about wheel design, but this particular alloy wheel struck me from the outset as being really well suited to, and integrated with, this version of the 5 Series.  The way in which the spokes are dished inwards around the hub and wheel nuts for the first 7” or 8” and then continue on a flat plane to the rim is in sympathy with the surfacing of the body panelling. Continue reading “Theme – Wheels: BMW E60 5 Series 19 inch”

Theme : Wheels – Keeping Them Covered

Driven to Write asks which manufacturers keep their nuts hidden

Rolls Royce Wraith C
1938 Wraith Photo : Ruairidh MacVeigh

The hubcap was originally a device for keeping road muck away from the centre of your wheel. The wheel cover was an expansion of the hubcap to cover the entire outer face of the wheel, thus both lessening the chance of bearings being contaminated and keeping your chauffeur from getting his uniform too dirty when changing wheels. However, I’ll generally use the term hubcap to cover any size of wheel covering. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Keeping Them Covered”

Theme : Wheels – Wires

Attractive. But do we miss wire wheels?

Lamborghini 350GT Wires

The wire wheel is a device from another era. Invented early in the 19th Century, the first successful automotive wheels were produced by Rudge-Whitworth of Coventry about 100 years later.

The Italian firm Borrani, started in 1922 making Rudge-Whitworths under licence but, in time, its own name became as well-known. Once the sports car default, by the mid Sixties, the alloy wheel was in its ascendancy and the wire wheel was beginning to look like an anachronism. There were still certain Sixties designs that suited wires, a Series one Jaguar XJ and a modernist Series 1 Rover P6 both look surprisingly well on wires but, by the end of the decade, even stalwart Borrani customer Ferrari has switched mainly to alloys. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Wires”

Theme : Wheels – The Three Pointed Star

Mercedes once valued their wheels. That’s just another thing they’ve forgotten.


In the 1930s, Mercedes introduced body coloured hubcaps with a central star, as seen on the 170. At the time, in fact, many manufacturers offered body-coloured wheels or hubcaps. After the War, some companies continued with this, Rolls Royce and various US brands in particular, but none did it with as much style as Mercedes. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – The Three Pointed Star”

Theme : Wheels – Introduction

The Editor Looks At Wheels

Wheels Scrapped

The Wheel has been around for at least five-and-a-half millennia yet, even in my very distant youth, its end seemed to be in sight. The Car Of The Future would surely fly, suspended possibly by air, jet motors or magnets. But here we are, well into the 21st Century, and The Wheel still reigns. Just as on Daimler’s first petrol-powered, converted carriage of 1886, four wheels remain the norm, five if you count a spare, three if you own various Reliant or Morgan models. Continue reading “Theme : Wheels – Introduction”