Slow Car Fast
April 21, 2008 - New wheels!
I've been planning to install a set of pre-1987 SAAB 900 wheels since I discovered they would fit the car. After all, the wheels that came with it are pretty darn ugly. And a car like this should have a set of Minilites - or a reasonable facsimile thereof, anyhow. So after a bit of searching around, I turned these ones up in Colorado Springs. Janel was up there this weekend and picked them up for me. Well, for her really.
They're actually Carroll Shelby wheels. Yes, that Shelby. Ronal did a version as well. Reasonably but not exceptionally light at 15.8 lbs each according to the UPS scale at work. These came with 5 full sets of lug nuts and some decent Falken tires, a big step up from what we had on the car already. The wheels are 15x5.5 and the tires are a 195/60-15.
If they look suspiciously shiny, it's for good reason. They're polished! I was originally thinking of some way to dull the centers and leave the lips polished, such as bead-blasting or painting the centers. But on the car, they look good. We'll see if that impression sticks around.
When I was looking, I found very few pictures of MGBs with these wheels fitted. So brace yourself, there are a bunch coming. If you want more, just email me.
entry 27 - tags: wheels, saab
April 21, 2008 - A side view of the car with the new wheels.
15" is as large as I'd want to go on this body. The SAAB lug nuts fit perfectly, but the ones on the car already were also suited to the SAAB wheels. It's my understanding that the Ronal version uses a tapered lug nut.
I also picked up a fifth, non-polished SAAB wheel to use as a spare.
Janel wasn't so sure about my enthusiasm for the wheels when I first started talking about them, but now that she's seen them on the car she's a big fan. They look right.
entry 28 - tags: wheels, saab
April 21, 2008 - The offset of the new wheels is much greater than the old ones.
This means they're tucked under the car more. That's good, because they're not going to interfere with the body. But I'm tempted to install some spacers to push them outboard a bit. To my eyes, the car needs a wider stance. Not quite as wide as the previous one though!
entry 29 - tags: wheels, saab
April 21, 2008 - A little surprise awaited me when I pulled off the old wheels.
They weren't intended for this bolt pattern. Someone egged out the holes to make it fit. Dodgy. It turns out these wheels were originally intended to be fake wire wheels, but the wire overlay is missing.
Between the questionable aesthetics, the completely dead tires and the ugly bolt pattern work, they're going to the scrapyard.
entry 32 - tags: wheels
April 27, 2008 - With the new shackles on the rear, the car sits very close to level.
I haven't checked with a tape measure yet, but it looks right. With the rear wheels tucked into the wells, it's obvious that there isn't room for a massive spacer to move them outboard. It looks much better than it did lifted anyhow.
One thing that's apparent is that something's not right with the rear suspension. It's rock solid, with almost no give at all. I'd swear it was sitting on the bump stops but inspection shows that is not the case. It's not seized, as there's definitely movement when I lift the car. But when I push on a fender I get almost no deflection. I wonder if the aftermarket tube shocks are too long and are bottoming out internally? I'll pull apart a few components and see what I can figure out.
The new grille is fitted, although not yet permanently. The bumper overriders make a big difference visually, so they're probably going to stay. It sure looks a lot better than it did when it arrived! The car's coming together visually pretty well.
entry 51 - tags: suspension, wheels, grille, styling
November 25, 2008 - Before pulling the car apart, I checked to see where the ride height is.
Since the entire suspension is going to be changed out, I want to make sure I put the new on in (approximately) the right place!
While cleaning the garage, I also came across a set of nicely finished Miata wheels - black with a polished lip - that would look good on the car. The Shelby wheels, unfortunately, will have to go due to the 4.5" bolt circle. Like most of the other cars in the garage, the MG will soon have a 4x100 pattern. I'd been eying the Ronal RB as a good option and that might still happen, but for the time being the repainted Miata wheels will do. I can run a 205/55-14 on them, which is about 1" smaller in diameter than MGs usually run. Most people would go for copious rubber in a car like this, but I'll probably set it up to clear some 225s at most and then just run really good rubber.
entry 79 - tags: wheels, suspension
December 4, 2008 - Of course, what I really wanted to know what how the wheel looked on the car.
Would my painted Miata wheels suit it? How far would it stick out of the fender well?
The answer is that it looks good. I like it. The tire diameter is 23" instead of the stock 24" on the MG, but I can probably live with that. I can run a 205/55-14 RA-1 (or some similar R-compound) to give me good traction without having to use a ridiculous tire size, and a 225/45-15 is a future possibility. The fact that I have a set of the RA-1s on these wheels in this size already is just icing on the cake.
entry 92 - tags: suspension, tires, wheels
December 4, 2008 - The tire does stick out a bit.
About as much as I'd expected based on my measurements, which is reassuring. A rough test fit shows that the Rabbit fender flare covers it almost perfectly. I'll pull one of the RA-1s off and test fit with that as well, but I have a good feeling about this - as long as I stick close to the stock +45 wheel offset, anyhow. I should probably make sure the +30 wheels with 205/50-15s fit, as that's what half of my race tires are.
The fairly radical camber is because I assembled this suspension out of spare parts and everything's just finger-tight. No attempt at alignment has been attempted!
entry 93 - tags: body, flares, wheels, tires, suspension
December 4, 2008 - Okay, I should stay away from that combination.
A +30 offset wheel with a 205/50-15 sticks out 3/4" further from the body. As the math says it should - there should be 20mm more when compared to a 195/60-14 on a +45 wheel. The flares don't quite cover them with room for wheel movement. That's okay, I can run a greater offset. We'll see exactly where the flares end up when they're welded in.
I pulled the rear axle off as well. There's a lot of room under there now!
entry 94 - tags: body, wheels, tires
October 26, 2009 - I stuffed the rear axle under the car and lifted it into place, just to see how everything fits.
This was a reward to myself at the end of the day, so I haven't actually crawled under to discover what's liable to give me fits yet. I know there will be something. I realized today that the battery I was planning to use - a big burly Optima - won't fit in an unmodified battery box. So I'll have to do something clever down there. Anyhow...
The wheels look good! I'm very happy with that. There's loads of room inside, and I'll probably stick a coilover in there so they don't hang down as low as they do on Masters' car. These weedy little 195/60-14 tires will fit quite nicely under the Rabbit flares too. If I do decide to go fatter - say, a 225/45-15 on a 15x8, which would be a very logical thing to do - I'm going to have fender clearance problems. Maybe I'll just use very good tires and acknowledge the car will be woefully under-tired. I should be able to run a 205/50-15 without trouble if I'm clever with my offset choices. Still, these are +45mm wheels. You don't tend to see too many that are higher than that. I could always get the housing and axles shortened if it comes to that. For now, we'll build for a 205 tire.
You can see here how much trimming the stock fender will need here.
entry 200 - tags: wheels, body, tires
October 26, 2009 - A 3/4 view of the wheel/tire/fender mockup.
I really like the way this sits. Not so sure about the color scheme though. It's also really tempting to see what I can do about a set of box flares. But that would be anachronistic.
entry 201 - tags: body, wheels