Spider Wheels

The wheels go around and around and we really don’t pay much attention to them unless they fail, dirty or putting new tires on them. The wheel functions quite well if we treat it right.

On the Alfa’s for the period of our cars, there were 4 styles…Borrani, Fergat, Campagnolo  and Amadori. These wheels are very rare and if you come across a set they are worth having for nothing else than nostalgia.

The Amadori were used on the very early 750 cars and were prone to cracking.  That is probably why you hardly ever see a Amadori wheel.

Later Fergats were switched in and followed up by Borrani. However the Fergats were prone to cracking the center hubs where the lug nuts were attached and people started to switch them out for Borrani’s. The cracks radiated from the lug nut holes, and there were cracks in the weld that held the spider to the rim. I knew of some people rewelding the spider to the rims as the cracks were that obvious.

The Borrani’s would bend and at least you could drive on wobbly rims.

Greig Smith says, ‘my reference books & every period picture of an SZ shows the cars wore the Borrani “Records” with the steel centre & aluminium rim, riveted together.” These cars also had the magnesium sand cast wheels which were light and strong for the torsional loads imposed on them. New Campagnolo rims are available that are just like the originals in cast aluminum, but with a smoother finish and built to the new wheel standards.

Real magnesium rims are exceptionally light but if they ever catch on fire you can not put them out. Water just adds to the problems. As far as I know they cannot be repaired. (?)

There is a myth floating around that certain cars came with Fergats and some with Borrani. The myth is just that…a myth. Cars came off the assembly line with both. Just like engines, depending upon what was in the bin for the next car is what was put on.

How do you tell them apart? The Fergats were more elliptically round and the Borrani’s had a bit of a wide spot in the middle of the arc. The later 105 wheels had round holes if you need a reference.

The early Fergats had studs on the inside of the rim that were threaded. This was the poor mans way of balancing a wheel with weights. You found a flat weight with a hole in the middle. You put it on and screwed it down with a nut and lock washer.

The Veloce rims also had a special fixture that went over the top of the valve stem that held it in place so it wouldn’t come away from the rim at speed. This little item  was a metal cap, cut so it sat on the rim ridge, and had a special fixing nut that went over the stem. This compressed the cap to the rim and secured the stem. Then a valve stem cap went over that. I haven’t seen any of these in decades. Most were tossed when the first set of tires were put on the car.

My 1600 Veloce came with Fergats and they were cracked. My mentor had a good set of “chromed” Borrani’s that we put on the car. It went well with the black lacquer paint on the car. Now they are rusty and pitted. I wonder where I can get them rechromed here in California? Chromed rims were an option at the dealers as I have seen several sets over the years. “The chrome wheels seem to have been a Hoffman embellishment, along with chromed cam cover nuts and hammer-tone painted cam covers on the Giulia’s. The reason the hub cap clips seem different is because they are tempered spring steel & if put through the chroming process, the heat causes them to loose their temper & the hubcaps fall off, hence they need to be removed & replaced when chroming wheels.”  

The clips are held on to the rim with rivets. You have to drill them out, get new clips if you can, and have someone rivet the new ones back on. Pop rivets are not strong enough to hold the clip so that the hub cap stays on. You pay a fortune for hub caps you might as well be sure they stay on when you go around a corner.

The sizes of the rims came in 4.5″, 5″, 5.5″ and 6″ widths. A post on the AlfaBB is, “Parts book doesn’t mention the special construction of the SZ wheels, only that they are 4 1/2 and made by Borrani rather than 4 1/4 made by either Fergat or Borrani.” 

Most of the tires were 155×15 that sat on a 5.5″ rim. You can still get the 15″ tires from Vederstein or from Volkswagen specialty houses that cater to restorations that want that period correct tire. Places like Cooker make reproduction tires with a modern carcass that fit well. Pirelli makes about 2500 vintage tires a year and if you are not on the waiting list you just are that much further down the waiting period to get them.

There seems to be an on going debate about the color of the steel rim used on Giulietta’s and Giulia’s. I have a great article on my Veloce Register website under paint codes that settles the question I feel in a good lengthy discussion. Rim Paint

I know some powder coat their wheels. It looks good and lasts a long time.

Borrani stickers for your wheels are available but they come in different colors depending upon the period you are putting them on. See this page on Borrani history and then you will either know it all or be that much more confused. Borrani History page.

You can also find CMR on a wheel. This is the company that bought out Borrani some years ago. Here is a pictorial of decals for wheels and other decals for your Alfa remade by Bill Gillham of Oregon. These decals you will find on most restorations today as replacements for the silk screening. Decals

Lastly lets talk lug nuts. There are left and right hand lug nuts on your Alfa if it is made before 1972. That is the year they switched to having all one twist on the car. You can tell a reverse left hand pitch nut as it has a mark in the center of the ridge between the flat lands on the nut. The early cars had brass nuts. You can polish them up on a buffing wheel and them clear coat them to keep that finish. Torque…no more than 80 lbs. Otherwise you will bend the rim! I have seen ruined wheels when some jockey on the air gun ran the nuts down tight flatting the holes. Just remember, left goes on the left and right goes on the right. If you have the front hubs mixed up now you know why.

I think I just ran out of air and feeling a bit run down. *wobble wobble wobble*





About alfadoc

I have been involved in Alfa Romeo cars since 1970 when I bought my 1600 Veloce spider. It was in 1972 that I started the Veloce Register for 1600 cars. It was in 1998 that I added the Sprint Veloce, 750 Spider Veloce and Sprint Speciale registers. Currently I own 2 Alfas: a 1994 164 Quadrifoglio.and a 1991 Spider "Automatic"
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