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
‘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!