Help, new wheels scraping on '85 Coupe GT addendum:

Fisher, Scott Scott_Fisher at
Thu Nov 30 10:31:33 EST 2000

Ed Kellock corrects my lysdexia about the ranhard pod, er, Panhard rod --
thanks, Ed -- and then goes on to comment:

> In the same vein, I really enjoy the feel of the car when
> I take off the TSWs with 205s and go back to the smaller, lighter
> stock wheels and tires.  Go figure.

BTDT recently with my fair-weather ride, a 1974 Alfa Romeo Spider.  A
previous owner had installed 195-70 tires on widened steel rims -- lots of
rubber, lots of grip, but not much steering feel.  As a cosmetic/restoration
step, I acquired the very light "Turbina" style OEM rims and had some
moderately grippy 185-60 series tires mounted on them.

Overall it was a mixed blessing (more later), but the steering feel is
superb -- the whole car feels lighter, more responsive, nimbler and more
alive.  In particular, throttle steering is enhanced, and the modest
reduction in contact patch size appears to have been compensated for by
going with newer (and lower-profile) tires so speed through corners is
slightly better, but with vastly improved feel and response.

The negative: going from 195-70 to 185-60 dropped the car nearly an inch,
and while this results in the usual improvements in center of gravity and
resulting weight transfer (the car ROCKS on a smooth twisty road), it also
scrapes on bumps.  Badly.  As in three-foot plumes of sparks out the back
end if the road is too rough.  Alfas have had finned aluminum sumps since
before WW I, and it was popular in the Seventies for dealers (and/or owners)
to add a steel-cage sump guard to protect the brittle aluminum from injury;
on a recent mountain-road tour, I bottomed out several times (Stage Road
between San Gregorio and Pescadero, for Bay Area locals) and those behind me
reported F1-like sparks lighting up the entire underside of the car and
streaming out well behind the bumper.  I understand it was... dramatic.

So that's another reason I stayed so conservative in going with a simple +1
when I upgraded the CGT -- I like the fact that I don't have to choose my
lines, or my lanes, based on whether or not there's a bump in the road, and
I liked the steering feel of the car well enough with the 185s that I didn't
want to lose too much of it.  I seem to have been successful in that:
whatever increase in effort there may be from going with the marginally
larger contact patch has been compensated for by going to the shorter,
stiffer sidewall.  AND the car now has significantly more grip than stock.

The longer I mess around with cars, the more I believe that balance is more
important -- in a daily driver certainly, and in competition cars as well
though to a lesser extent (especially if you have the resources to tune the
car for individual tracks/conditions) -- than absolute performance in any
single measure, when that performance is achieved at a corresponding loss in
other measures.  Yes, 40-series rubber on 19" wheels will result in
phenomenal grip, *if* the road stays flat *and* it is cambered properly
*and* the suspension is aligned to take advantage of it *and*... a whole lot
of other variables.  But what Audis have always been about for me is their
essential unflappability no matter what the road surface -- even in the
underpowered 2WD guise as in my very first 1980 1588cc 4000.  My fondest
memories of that car are of pitching it, hard, into a very bumpy series of
S-curves near home and being able to hold the steering line and just keep
the gas pedal flat, and feeling the body undulate slightly while the wheels
kept pointed in the desired direction.  One of my criteria in the (oh no!
he's going to say it! :-) ever-present "what is a sports car?" debate is
that a sports car's suspension is designed to optimize the contact patch's
size, shape and effectiveness at all times and at any cost to driver
comfort, while a non-sports car's suspension is designed to optimize the
driver's comfort at all times and at any cost to the contact patch's size,
shape and effectiveness.  Audi have always done a better job of optimizing
-- of balancing -- for *both* than most carmakers, and the responsiveness of
the cars, the feel and weight of the controls and the way the car moves
effortlessly through traffic, is what I have always liked about them.

--Scott Fisher
  1983 CGT
  1993 100CSQ

More information about the quattro mailing list