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In message <32BECABF.1DE0@steinberg.net> Mark Badger writes:

> my feeling is that car manufacturers do deals with tyre companies and
> the tyres fitted as shipped have more to do with $$$s than to do with
> "perfect handling matches".

In previous lives (or rather, _one_ previous life) the major German auto 
manufacturers _and_ Continentale Gummiwerke were customers of mine.  I was 
based in the Conti head office (Koenigswoerther Platz) for a couple of years.
I certainly don't think any of the big German names would risk their multi-
million investments getting a bad name because they can save a few $ on a set 
of tyres.  What I think is more important to them is the local market image of 
the tyre manufacturer - Audi will cheerfully fit different tyres in different 
markets if the brand's local image is associated with "performance", in some 
sense.  Let's be fair - roads aren't the same the world over, so why should one 
tyre perform the same?  German and UK tarmac surfaces are _very_ different.
Conti are a large specialist rubber products manufacturer (lifting bags for 
Jumbo jets, condoms, etc.) as well as a tyre manufacturer.  They, during my 
time in Germany, had an _excellent_ reputation for wet weather tyres. 

And, as Conti used to say:

                     "2mm.  Todsicher."

 Phil Payne
 Committee Member, UK Audi [ur-]quattro Owners Club