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Re: bigger wheels
Carl DeSousa and Eliot Lim have carried on with some well-informed
discussion initiated by my description of the wheel/tire swap I did
on my 1992 100CSQ. (I replaced the stock 15x7 alloys and 195/65-15
Eagle GAs with 16x7 BBS forged alloys and 205/55-16 Comp T/A VR4s.)
The question of why I decided to go with a +1 set-up was raised by
Ramiro Reinoso. Was it necessary? Eliot also asked whether adding
unsprung weight in the form of larger wheels was a good idea. Carl
has provided some excellent reasons for considering +1/+2 set-ups,
all of which were familiar to me and were among the reasons I opted
to go the direction I did, but the truth of the matter is that fate
played a much bigger part than any other factor. Let me shed a bit
more light on this by telling you some more about what led up to my
It went something like this:
When I bought the car, I knew I was going to want to put bigger and
better tires on it. The 195/65-15 Eagle GAs are too small for a 7"
alloy and for the weight of the car. They are also not performance
tires, whatever you take that to mean.
I briefly considered swapping the 215/65-15 Comp T/A HR4s off of my
SHO onto the car, but the difference in diameters was prohibitive.
The car already sat a bit high off the ground, and this would just
make it worse. It would also have further hampered the car's low-
end acceleration, which was my biggest complaint about it to start
Whipping out my handy tire size calculator, I reckoned that keeping
the 15" rims was going to make things tough. A 205/60-15 was still
not a whole lot of tire and would be a little smaller in diameter,
while a 215/60-15 would fit the rim better but was a bit taller. I
looked into 55-series alternatives and found that a 225/55-15 might
work, but that was getting to be an awfully wide tire for effective
use in the snow. What to do, what to do...
I finally decided that I could live with the 215/60s, and at about
the same time decided that I really *couldn't* live with the stock
ten-spoke alloys. They're not bad looking, really, but I thought
the dull grey finish looked shabby with the pearlescent white paint
(my wife's choice; I wanted silver, with which the rims looked just
fine). The dealer -- who had already agreed to buy back the Eagle
GAs -- also agreed to buy back the wheels, so the search began.
I really wanted to find a set of BBS-style 15x7s with gold centers.
Well, guess what... There just weren't any available for the 1992
100CSQ. It seems the bolt circle had changed (still unverified),
the wheels *had* to be hub-centric (true), and most companies were
no longer making gold-centered wheels anymore. I found a couple of
alternatives that didn't suit me at all.
And then, during my fifth or sixth call to the Tire Rack ("Are you
*sure* you haven't got anything?"), the guy I was talking to said,
"What a minute! I've got an idea..." and proposed fitting a set of
16x7 platinum-colored real-honest-to-goodness forged BBSs. I about
dropped the phone; I knew how much the forged BBS wheels went for,
and I knew my wife wouldn't go for spending $1500-1600 on them. I
also had some misgivings about going to +1 because I knew it would
not benefit the car's ride (already fairly stiff, especially for a
"luxary" car). There was an additional problem: These wheels were
intended to fit Mercedes applications, so their lug seats were too
small and their center holes were too large. Finally, the Comp T/A
all-seasons I wanted -- based on my previous experience with them,
I never considered any other tire -- were not available in anything
but a "V" speed rating in 16" sizes, meaning somewhat higher prices
for the rubber as well.
Then he said the magic words: "We're badly overstocked with these
wheels. We can let you have them for $170 a corner, and we'll take
care of milling the lug seats and sleeving the center holes at no
charge." We determined that the 205/55-16 Comp T/A VR4s would be a
perfect match, and away we went. The total price was less than the
$1200 we'd budgeted for the set, and the dealer was very fair with
the price he gave us for the stock set, so all was (and is) well.
Any concerns I had about adding unsprung weight were very quickly
dispelled the first time I lifted one of the wheels. I don't know
how they do it, but those forged rims are *extremely* light, much
lighter than the stock alloys. The wheels look like they were made
for the car: They do a much better job of filling those huge fender
wells, and the platinum finish is a perfect compliment to the pearl
paint. The ride stiffness is not noticably harsher, the tires are
as quiet as the GAs were, and the car handles beautifully.
I feel very lucky to have stumbled onto the solution I did, but you
know what they say about luck being the residue of design and per-
- Steve Bruun