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The History of Alloy Wheels


Reinventing the wheel

 

If you think of all the inventions that man has ever come up with possibly one of the most important was when someone figured out that a reasonably 'circular' wheel was a great idea for a mode of transport.

 

The evolution of the 'wheel' has been dramatic. The early examples were not even that stable, made of wooden planks tied together and then the rounded edges added. It was believed that a solid wheel did not provide the strength and stability required for long journeys on rough surfaces.

 

Moving forward the idea of a spoked wheel provided the rigid strength needed, and form the basis of the modern wheel we see today.

 

Further evolutions saw the addition of an iron rim around the wooden wheel, the introduction of a pressurised tyre and then the launch of a variety of components to manufacture the wheel. In particular, these have included steel, aluminium and plastic (particularly for coating).

 

Jumping forward to the advent of the motor vehicle the essential component of the four wheels forms the crucial connection from your car to the ground. This factor means the wheels are one of the most important safety and cosmetic aspects of your vehicle.

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The rise in popularity of Alloy Wheels

 

Although alloy wheels have been around since the early 1920's, the rise to prominence of vehicles commonly found on the road came in the 1980's. Marketed as an upgrade from steel wheels, this was often seen as the perfect solution to enhance the appearance of your vehicle from the standard steel wheel and plastic trim.  

 

In 2016 the alloy wheel is almost universally included on each modern car. Although aesthetics are important, and this is the main reason why many manufacturers use diamond or laser finishes now, the key reason for the inclusion of alloys is that they are lighter and stronger than the traditional steel wheel alternative. The cost of manufacturing a steel wheel is much lower. However, the need for fuel efficient vehicles has seen alloys move from being an expensive upgrade to a universal inclusion.

 

Of course scuffing a steel wheel typically meant that you could only buy a new plastic wheel trim for the wheel. When you are looking at an alloy wheel, then a cosmetic repair is the typical solution.

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