The Art Of Carrying A Spare Wheel

Nowadays there are many cars that no longer have a spare wheel or are equipped with a so-called emergency wheel, which of course helps to save weight. The roads and tyres are also of much better quality today, which makes tyre damage much rarer. So this spare part is now dispensable and, if at all, is stored in a very practical and space-saving way.

The Art Of Carrying A Spare Wheel

But that wasn’t always the case. There were times in the history of the automobile when the storage of the spare wheel was celebrated, as can be seen in the pictures. I think there are some wonderful solutions that are worth showing. Some of the designs make me wonder how practicable these ideas were, but they are certainly beautiful. Storing the spare wheel in the boot lid with a beautifully decorated cover is an idea that I think must have been quite difficult to handle.


I also think that the wheels of the vehicles back then were much heavier and of course considerably larger than they are today, but these vehicles of the pre-war era were often driven by chauffeurs, so ease of use was probably negligible.


There were two classic positions to which the spare wheels were attached, at least on the large pre-war cars from Horch, Bentley, Bugatti or Mercedes, to name but a few. Firstly, they were attached behind the front mudguard on the side of the car and were sometimes used to attach the rear-view mirrors. In most cases they were only decorated with a plate on the top, but sometimes they were completely covered.


The other position is the rear cover of the boot. Sometimes simply open and screwed on without a cover, sometimes artfully embedded in a recess with a beautifully designed lid. This was probably also done for aerodynamic reasons and had the advantage that the spare wheel was always clean when it was needed.


With the disappearance of the open mudguards, the initial positioning of the spare wheel behind these was no longer possible and it was then only stored in the rear of the boot. Sometimes even visible under the rear window, as in the three Ferraris shown here. On the Porsche 911 with its rear engine, the spare wheel naturally had to be positioned at the front.


It is wonderful that the artful accommodation of the all-important spare wheel lives on in the automotive legends and icons of history and can still be seen and marvelled at today. For me, these solutions show again and again how much work and thought was put into them in the early days. And above all, how much passion and skill was invested in realising every last bit of extra class. I believe that this is a large part of the fascination and admiration for classic cars and makes all the difference. Such cultural assets must be cultivated and preserved. Find out more about our photographer Ralph Lüker.

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