De­sign icons

Our lat­est in­stal­ment fo­cuses on a long-run­ning ‘five-leaf’ de­sign sit­ting in the 911’s arches

Total 911 - - Contents -

Apart from the 911’s ba­sic out­line there’s surely no other com­po­nent that so in­stantly de­fines our favourite sports car. It’s fair to say that few wheel de­signs have reached iconic sta­tus – the ‘Minilite’ be­ing one, per­haps – but the Fuchs al­loy rim thor­oughly de­serves such con­sid­er­a­tion and, like many things em­a­nat­ing from Zuf­fen­hausen, it was all about im­prov­ing per­for­mance of the Porsche 911.

A sure-fire way to bet­ter han­dling is re­duc­ing un­sprung weight, and that’s where lighter wheels come in. Porsche knew this of course, spend­ing con­sid­er­able time and money on de­vel­op­ing a cast mag­ne­sium rim with spe­cial­ist, VDM. It didn’t work, so next stop was the com­pany of otto Fuchs, who were al­ready sup­ply­ing wheels for mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles.

hein­rich Klie and his team are cred­ited with the ini­tial de­sign, one re­fined be­fore en­ter­ing pro­duc­tion. Fea­tur­ing a forged alu­minium cen­tre and rolled alu­minium rim, the clas­sic ‘five-leaf’ de­sign made its de­but on the 1966 911s. while it was no­tably more ex­pen­sive than the steel wheels em­ployed up to then (and com­plex to make, with a re­puted 58-step pro­duc­tion process) it saved a cou­ple of ki­los at each cor­ner, and that was all that mat­tered. That orig­i­nal wheel was just 4.5-inches wide, but as sizes grew – they’d mea­sure around twice that by the time pro­duc­tion ended – the rel­a­tive weight sav­ing in­creased, bring­ing ever greater ben­e­fits.

never one to stand still, Porsche pressed on with de­vel­op­ment of other de­signs, in­clud­ing the ATS ‘cookie-cut­ter’ and the ‘tele­phone dial’ rim that be­came stan­dard fit­ment for the 964s. how­ever, the Fuchs re­mained an op­tion, and it was the one that ev­ery­one wanted. In fact, such was the de­mand that by 1988 it had once again be­come the stan­dard wheel for the 3.2 car­rera – of­fered in 15- and 16-inch sizes – and would re­main that way un­til pro­duc­tion ended in 1989. It would surely have been a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion to re­fine the de­sign and re­tain it for the suc­ceed­ing 964 – only there was a prob­lem. The Fuchs rim wasn’t suit­able for a car that was launched with driven front wheels and anti-lock brakes, the off­set of the leg­endary de­sign at odds with the ge­om­e­try re­quired for the new model. The re­sult­ing ef­fect on sta­bil­ity would have af­fected the ABS op­er­a­tion, so a new de­sign was needed, but it looked like time had been called af­ter more than twenty years of adorn­ing the ne­unelfer. Fans were in luck, though, as it was rein­ter­preted for both the 997 sport clas­sic and 991 50 Jähre edi­tion. like we said, an icon.

“The clas­sic ‘five-leaf’ de­sign made its de­but on the 1966 911S”

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