I think if you were to survey automobile enthusiasts about what the best invention of mankind is, the answer would often be the wheel.
Without this invention this story would not be possible. But the wheel was invented and today transports us from A to B. This simple geometric shape appears in a variety of forms throughout the decades of automobile construction.
The wheel or rim was discovered to be the bearer of the trademark quite early on. Even on the early Grand Prix racing cars from Mercedes Benz, the Mercedes star was emblazoned in the middle of the rim for advertising purposes. Ferrari also placed the Prancing Horse on a yellow background in the middle of the rims.
Here I have put together a collection of photographs of a wide variety of bikes from many decades; They all have one thing in common – function. The wheels bring the engine’s power to the road and they transmit the driver’s steering movements.
But the appearance is completely different. Some wheels can be easily assigned without seeing the whole car. The Ferrari wheels of the Formula 1 racing cars and the sports prototypes of the seventies all had the same design and above all a very special color scheme in gold and silver. The rims of the early Lotus Grand Prix racing cars were often painted yellow in the 1960s, which was also unmistakable.
In the 1980s, rims were also a status symbol on production cars, as the motto back then was wide, wider and of course made of light metal such as aluminum from BBS, for example. During this time there was hardly a BMW that wasn’t equipped with aluminum rims and low-profile tires.
Another design icon is the famous Fuchs rim that adorned practically all Porsche 911s. Be it in black or silver, the typical Fuchs design has still set the style today.
Of course, from a photographic point of view, the beginnings with the wire-spoke rims from Borani are very beautiful with the light and shadow effects and the fragile-looking structure. I like that very much.
It’s amazing how many different wheels, tires and rims there are; a trend today is rims that reveal the brake discs and brake calipers. Of course, a brand logo is also placed on the brake calipers, be it from Brembo at Ferrari or from Porsche, especially on the yellow calipers of the ceramic brake, which is probably the best brake installed in a production vehicle.
I have already written about the different designs of steering wheels in the same place, I think the versatility of tires and rims is almost even greater and more exciting to discover.
If you like, you can try to guess the appropriate car types or brands yourself.
Have lots of fun with it. Find out more about our photographer Ralph Lüker.