Have I gone mad?…
…or is it just the sex appeal of those five spoke “Teledial” wheels on the 2000’s Alfa Romeo 156?
I have a fondness for wheels with simple geometric shapes. It must be because one of my first car obsessions; the 1990 Lamborghini Diablo. The wheels on that car had a simple five spoke design that consisted of basically a solid wheel with five circular holes cut out of it. It was so simple, when I sketched cars in my composition book during class, I always drew those wheels. In fact, I still do!
Recently I was chewing the fat with one of my best friends, and the subject of wheels came up. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting something a little more eye-catching for my Shinsen Miata, but finding wheels that I think look better than the stock five-spoke alloys is easier said than done. I could do what everyone else is doing and buy some JDM-style rims, but that option can get pretty pricey. Plus, I’m not exactly standing out at any Cars and Coffee events since there’s always a Miata with JDM rims anyway.
I started to lament that there weren’t a lot of aftermarket options that looked like my ideal design. I’d love to put Teledial-style wheels on the Shinsen, but my options were severely limited. Then, I had a thought: Why not look at used wheels from cars that used the Teledial design? I started doing more research, and almost immediately I found the ideal wheel.
And it belongs to a car never sold in the USA.
The (near) Perfect Wheels
Alfa Romeo has been using the Teledial-style wheel designs for decades, especially most recently in their current lineup of US-import vehicles. Of course, those newer wheels are pricey and too big for my diminutive Miata. Thankfully, Alfa Romeo made a 16-inch wheel that is nearly identical to the Miata’s stock wheels, and they’re pretty inexpensive (not factoring shipping)! The 2003 Alfa 156 and 147 had the option of a lightweight aluminum wheel with five circular “Teledial” spokes, and they look gorgeous. Aside from being based on a classic Alfa design, the treatment of the wheels is also nearly identical to the Miata’s, so they aren’t gaudy or too distracting like some other wheels I’ve seen.
I dug deeper trying to learn as much as I can about these particular wheels. I was worried that the wheel size and the lug pattern was too different from the stock Miata wheels to even consider as a replacement, but then I stumbled across Wheel-Size.com; a massive database for wheel fitment and tire sizes. With it, I was able to find the the exact specifications for both my Shinsen Miata’s Wheels, and the Alfa Romeo Teledial Wheels:
2003 Shinsen Miata 1.8L 5spd:
- Wheel Size: 16in x 6.5in J
- Lug Pattern: 4x100mm
- Offset: 40mm
- Center Bore: 54.1mm
- Tire Size: P205/45R16
2003 Alfa Romeo 156 1.6L-2.5L
- Wheel Size: 16in x 6.5in J
- Lug Pattern: 5x98mm
- Offset: 41.5mm
- Center Bore: 58.1mm
- Tire Size: P205/55R16
As you can see, not only is the rim size practically the same, but the Offset, Center Bore and Tire Size are incredibly similar! The only drawback to these wheels however is the lug pattern. Instead of the 4 lug, 100mm diameter pattern, Alfa Romeo utilized a 5 lug pattern 98mm in diameter. This means that if I were to find these wheels somewhere, I would need to rely on a PCD Wheel Adapter that changes the lug pattern from 4x100mm to 5x98mm. And that’s even if I find the wheels; because Alfa Romeo never sold this car in the states, all examples of this particular wheel is sold overseas. That means more shipping costs!
Alas, it might be more trouble than it’s actually worth. Still, I’d like to imagine how surprised people would get when I roll up with a Shinsen Miata using Alfa Romeo rims!
Retro done right…
One of the biggest issues I have with car design today is the fact that there is such an emphasis on efficiency and aerodynamics that most new cars are starting to look alike. I’m willing to bet that if you were to take all the popular sedans, de-badge them, and then line them up next to each other, it would be very difficult to tell them apart. In addition to the current design trends, you have the introduction of electric drivetrains, which further serve to drive the emphasis on efficiency. Coupled with the lowering popularity of manual transmissions, cars are starting to become more like appliances than actual objects of desire.
That being said, with the introduction of fully-electric drivetrains, the beginnings of a new trend are started to take hold. Manufacturers like Jaguar are making a bet: now that electric drivetrains are becoming more commonplace, why not revisit the classic designs of yesteryear? Jaguar introduced the E-Type ZERO, a special electric conversion of their famous Series 1 E-Type sports car in order to capture the burgeoning market of classic car design with modern electric technology. And now, a newcomer to this market has made itself known: the Comet.
The brainchild of TV personality and unabashed car enthusiast Ant Anstead, the Dowsetts Classic Cars Comet looks like something that could have easily been a world beating sports car in the 1960’s. With a design that evokes past sports cars from the golden age of car design, like the Aston Martin DB4, the Jaguar E-Types and D-Types, the Alfa Romero TZ2, and even the Maserati Pininfarina A6GCS/53, the Comet is already setting the car design world ablaze with its good looks and modern amenities.
Paired with the all-aluminum (or aluminium for our friends across the pond) 6.2L LS3 small-block V8 from Chevrolet, the Comet can reportedly accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in under four seconds, and look amazing while doing so. It seems a shame that it’s that fast; I’d rather just cruise on by and feel everyone’s gaze turn toward me! However, the rev-happy small block LS3 isn’t the only choice of drivetrain for this masterpiece of retro-futurism. Dowsetts also offers the choice of a fully electric drivetrain.
With this car, you can have all the looks of a classic golden age sports car, with the technology of today’s efficient electric drivetrains. Details are still pending on the final mechanical design of the car, however. According to Autoclassics.com, the debut car used a Tremec 5-speed transmission, a limited-slip differential, and a De-Dion-style rear end. This is likely to change with the introduction of the proposed electric drivetrain. Furthermore, the current mechanical setup is also likely to change as the car nears production. You could possibly have your choice of a 5-speed or 6 speed transmission later on, but this has not been confirmed.
The aesthetic mix of classic and modern is carried into the interior a mix of materials and surfaces. Paired with the classic-style wood-rimmed and airbag-less steering wheel, white face gauges, and supple quilted leather, is a mix of polished aluminum surfaces, buttons, and a touchscreen infotainment system. The end result is a fusion of truly retro-futuristic designs inside and out.
Is the Comet the latest example of a new trend of retro-futuristic car design? Hopefully the answer is yes; I’m starting to get tired of cars that look like soap bars!
I’ve been so busy…
… and yet, I still found the time to get access to The 2018 San Francisco Auto Show VIP Preview Party!
In addition to that, I’ve been working on writing more articles for this blog. I should be putting something up very soon!
Check out the new gallery!
In between moving to a new place, starting a new part-time job, and working on several projects at once, I’ve finally managed to upload my photos from the last couple of events!
Of course, one of the biggest spectacles of the summer was the Rolex Monterey Motosports Reunion, but imagine two events of this caliber happening within a month of each other! That was the Porsche Rennsport Reunion VI; a massive gathering featuring cars from the legendary marque from Stuttgart!
I spent two days shooting behind the fences at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca hoping to catch some great shots of all kinds of Porsche race cars whizzing past the lens. Little did I know I would end up with the biggest gallery of photos I’ve uploaded so far! I’m running out of space!
A little bit after the Reunion, I managed to attend the Mini Owner’s Association of America’s All British Car Show in Danville! Imagine what it must have felt like when a genuine Allard J2X arrives and steals the show!
Now that the season is winding down, I’m hoping to be able to try out something new I’ve been thinking of doing with this blog. No spoilers though; you’re going to have to wait and see what I have in store!