REIN­VENT­ING THEWHEELS

Brett ‘good with colours’ Fraser has made some­thing of a bold state­ment with his new Group 4 Fuchs, deep-dished wheels. Red and yel­low? The ed­i­to­rial jury is out on that one, but those wheels cer­tainly do look good

911 Porsche World - - Practical Porsche -

‘Just let me get this straight. You want me to put those shiny red wheels on that bright yel­low Porsche. Those two colours? To­gether?’ To be fair to the young guy in Tread­first Tyre & Ex­haust, he didn’t ac­tu­ally say those words out loud, but I could see it in his eyes. In­credulity. And be­wil­der­ment.

He wasn’t alone. The rest of the crew at Tread­first – those work­ing on the other side of the work­shop, the guys from re­cep­tion – were find­ing ex­cuses to drift close to the Boxster, eye­ing its Speed Yel­low coach­work and try­ing to rec­on­cile that with the Guards Red Group 4 Wheels Fuchs trib­utes laid out on the floor be­side it. Maybe they didn’t think I saw the raised eye­brows or no­tice the whis­pered con­ver­sa­tions. The doubt was pal­pa­ble. But not un­ex­pected…

For years I’ve thought that a Fuchs-style wheel would be a crack­ing match for the Boxster, but the repli­cas that I’d seen had flat faces that to my eye didn’t work so well: for the Boxster the faces needed to be dished. A chance con­ver­sa­tion with Group 4 Wheels boss Jonathan Sage a cou­ple of years back re­vealed that he was think­ing along pre­cisely the same lines. Well, not so much think­ing, but do­ing.

Jonathan had al­ready de­signed an 18inch wheel that would fit the Boxster, 996, 964, 968 and other clas­sic Porsches. It would have the all-im­por­tant dish for both its front and rear it­er­a­tions, and would be avail­able in a va­ri­ety of colours. He just needed to sort out the pro­to­types and find a part­ner to man­u­fac­ture them. I couldn’t wait.

Turned out ac­tu­al­lyi could. Had to. Some un­ex­pected dif­fi­cul­ties in Jonathan’s world delayed the project. Then ear­lier this year there was an email from Group 4 Wheels. A man­u­fac­tur­ing part­ner had been found and some pro­to­types made – did I fancy a sneak peek? Sure did. And the wheels looked fab­u­lous.

Ed­i­tor Ben­nett thought so too and ar­ranged for 911&PW to run a news story on the Group 4 Wheels project. Jonathan rocked up to Paul Stephens’ gaff with a van full of dif­fer­ent coloured Fuchs-style wheels, and we pulled a va­ri­ety of cars out of Paul’s show­room to pho­to­graph them on. And my Boxster joined in the party, too.

For the photo shoot we stuck the black wheels on my car: it was trans­formed. Although they’re an ‘old fash­ioned’ de­sign, I though that the Group 4s made the car look more youth­ful and def­i­nitely more fun. No doubt about it, I had to have a set. Now, the black cen­tres cer­tainly suited the car, but I kinda thought that they were the ob­vi­ous choice. Jonathan had also brought along a gun metal colour, but that seemed a bit pre­dictable, too. White was in­ter­est­ing and so was the gold, while the green made me chuckle but made the Boxster look too much like a Nor­wich City sup­porter’s car: I live in an area where most footie folk

support Nor­wich’s arch-ri­val Ip­swich, so the yel­low/green colour combo was a no-go.

Blue? Too nutty, even for me… But in our early con­ver­sa­tions Jonathan had sug­gested red: ‘wouldn’t that be eye­catch­ing and dif­fer­ent?’ He’d seen a pic­ture of a yel­low 911 race car from the 1960s with red wheels and reck­oned it would work on the Boxster. I had to think on it a while, but fi­nally I agreed with him. Oth­ers – many oth­ers: pretty much all the oth­ers – con­cluded we’d both been out in the sun too long.

My wheel-fit­ting friend at Tread­first wasn’t likely to prof­fer an opin­ion to my face, but I’m sure I saw a ‘the cus­tomer is al­ways right’ shrug out of the cor­ner of my eye. But then he got both wheels on to one side of the car and stood back, grinned, nod­ded, grinned again and then said: ‘I can’t be­lieve I’m say­ing this, but it looks really good.’

Then sud­denly the whole team was crowded around the Boxster, also nod­ding and grin­ning and with the col­lec­tive voice say­ing, ‘Wouldn’t have been my first choice, but that red works a treat.’

Me, I never had any doubts. And when the Boxster rolled out into the sun­shine for the full new wheels ef­fect, I let rip with ev­ery happy ex­ple­tive you can think of.

With the Group 4s be­ing an inch big­ger in di­am­e­ter than the Boxster’s orig­i­nal wheels – 18s rather than 17s – new tyres were also needed. I al­ready had Miche­lin Pi­lot Sports on the car and they had served me ad­mirably in all con­di­tions, in­clud­ing right through­out the win­ter, so I had no hes­i­ta­tion in re­turn­ing to the French firm, an OE Porsche sup­plier. This time I opted for Pi­lot Sport Cup 2s (225/40 ZR18 on the front, 265/35 ZR on the back), a more per­for­mance-fo­cused tyre de­signed pri­mar­ily for sum­mer use and oc­ca­sional track­days. I hope my driv­ing can do them jus­tice, be­cause although I’d re­searched them in ad­vance, when they ar­rived and I got to see and touch them I got far more of a sense of how ag­gres­sive they are.

When I men­tioned them on Face­book there were plenty of ap­pre­cia­tive com­ments, and also a few ad­vis­ing cau­tion in the wet, par­tic­u­larly over man­hole cov­ers. As yet I haven’t had the chance to scrub them in, hav­ing driven only from the tyre cen­tre to home at the time of writ­ing, but I’m look­ing for­ward to ex­plor­ing their po­ten­tial and see­ing what a dif­fer­ence they make to the car’s per­for­mance and han­dling, though I think I’ll get the sus­pen­sion align­ment checked over first: I’ll let you know in fu­ture is­sues.

As an aside to the whole wheel/tyre thing, one word: nuts. Two words, really: rusty nuts. Although they’re ac­tu­ally bolts on a Boxster. Porsche wheel bolts are no­to­ri­ously scabby items, and the new Group 4s de­served some­thing bet­ter than my car’s orig­i­nals. A set of gen­uine Porsche re­place­ments was on the cards un­til I dis­cov­ered they were 170 quid. As luck would have it, Ed­i­tor Ben­nett had a spare set from his 996, and af­ter a bath in de­greaser and the at­ten­tions of a rat­tle can of black Ham­merite, the bolts were gleam­ing. For a while, at least…

An­noy­ingly, just prior to get­ting its fancy new wheels the Boxster de­cided that its pas­sen­ger win­dow should no longer move. Up or down. And the glass was sit­ting so high it was on the out­side of its rub­bers, just in time for the weather to turn from Mediter­ranean to mon­soon. Vince at my lo­cal garage, Clev­er­ley Re­paired Cars, man­aged to squeeze me in for an emer­gency ap­point­ment to re­place the elec­tric win­dow reg­u­la­tor, but for­tu­nately not its mo­tor, too. I con­tinue to find it fas­ci­nat­ing the ease with which the knowl­edge­able can rip your car apart, ex­pos­ing its in­ner work­ings, then re­con­struct it with­out hav­ing any parts left over. And hav­ing an elec­tric win­dow that now works as it’s sup­posed to, is sur­pris­ingly sat­is­fy­ing. PW

They’re red, so get over it! The deep dish Fuchs look trans­forms the Boxster, we think

Be­low left: Rusty nuts? A rat­tle can of black Ham­merite soon sorted them out. Be­low: Vince Bick­ers at Clev­er­ley Re­paired Cars got the elec­tric win­dow work­ing again

18in Group 4 wheels, really fill the arches. From the rear, you get a real idea of the deep dished ef­fect

New wheels de­serve some de­cent tyres. Brett’s gone hard­core with his choice of Miche­lin Pi­lot Sport Cup 2 rub­ber. Shame they only come in black!

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