Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New wheels for Jonny's Maserati

After a long wait to have the wheels finished to my Ghibli's peculiar specifications and then another wait before finding out the tires that I originally wanted were not available... and then another wait while I got my holy throttle body fixed... I finally got to fit my new wheels!

I have to admit to being a little nervous when I turned up at Korst Banden. Despite doing lots of thorough research to determine the existing wheels specifications and getting a good idea about what will fit in the Ghibli's wheel arches, listening to the guys at Korst express doubts that the tires I wanted to fit wouldn't... well... fit, I did start to doubt myself! So I was extremely happy when first a rear wheel fitted OK and then the tighter fitting front wheel slotted in OK.

Once the right side wheels were fitted, we went for a quick drive to check that the wheels weren't fouling in the arches when turning and driving over speed bumps. We didn't hear a thing... so success! Everything had turned out as planned!

All four wheels were then properly fitted, with the wheels balanced and installed with new bolts. Once the wheels were all fitted, the young mechanic who carried out the fitting joined me for a quick spin on the motorway, just to check that everything was fine.

I'm happy to report that it is... and that he was very impressed with the car. He was quite categoric in stating that the Ghibli was the quickest car he'd been in. He has a marker on the motorway where he checks the speed after accellerating hard off the slip road... and despite the wet road surface, he claimed the speed that I achieved at the marker was quicker than any of the Subaru Imprezas that he'd been a passenger in. So that made me happy!

I'm really happy with the new wheels. I purchased them predominantly for functional reasons... to increase the ground clearance of the car. However, I think the aesthetics of the car have improved with the new wheels. I like the way that the wheels fill the arches now and I think the proportions of the car are less slender and a bit more chunky, giving the car a more aggressive look. The ground clearance has certainly improved... I can now get over speed bumps without the underside fouling. I'm even tempted to consider some new springs to lower the car slightly!

Handling does not seem to have been adversely effected. I think traction has been improved, since I was not getting any rear wheel slipping on hard accelleration. I think the new Toyo tires are slightly better than the previous ones I had in the wet... since they were holding traction on the damp road on the drive home.

If I were to get some new wheels, or perhaps as advice to anyone else who goes down this route, I'd probably be a bit more adventurous on the offset on the rear wheels. It's now much better than before, with the wheel much more flush with the body, but there's still scope to push it out a little further. On the front however, I think it's looking OK.

Next project is to source some replacement brakes. The OEM discs look a little skimpy behind the new wheels, so I need to investigate getting some 330mm or even 350mm discs fitted. Seems that Modena Performance in Germany might be able to help me out.

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