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2013 Toronto Auto Show: Reinvented wheel steals the show

Published February 19, 2013
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Sometimes the best of an auto show isn’t an auto at all. Sometimes it’s the reinvention of the wheel.

Sure there are some fantastic cars at the show, but once in a while something else steals the show. This time, it is a wheel, but not just any wheel.

Sports Car Boutique is showing off what they claim to be is the first ever carbon fibre composite wheel. The rim part is made of very light and strong carbon fibre and the spokes and hub are made of the more traditional metal alloys.

With my racing background this technology really peaked my interest. Weight is the enemy in auto racing and unsprung weight is the worst kind. I had always wondered if carbon fibre technology would find itself making race wheels lighter and at the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) my wonderment was answered.

HRE Performance Wheels is building these new wheels and Sports Car Boutique will be marketing them.

When I lifted the example wheel they have on display the lightness of its construction was evident. This 19-inch wheel that would be at home on a Porsche Cup car weighed as little as my tiny by comparison 15” x 7” race wheels for my race Integra. Wow, will this be the best thing since big brakes for performance driving?

The down side of this amazing technology is the cost. The one on display will have a retail cost of about $2,500 each. In other words, purchasing just four of these for my race car would cost me more than the complete race car did!

In racing, one set of wheels is not nearly enough. You need at least one spare set mounted and ready to go and then another set mounted with rain tires. If you are really serious, an “intermediate” set of rain tires would require a fourth set of wheels. That would set a race team back at least $40,000 just for these wheels.

Hopefully as time goes on the costs will start to come down. But if you have the budget and you want to be the first kid on the block with the latest automotive craze, drop by the Sports Car Boutique booth on Level 600 of the south building at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and put in your order. You may need to bring a Brink’s truck with you.

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