Staff Projects: Dream Wheels for Christmas
Having tinkered with cars for over a decade now, one thing has evaded my shopping list for the longest time: buying a brand new set of forged wheels. For a lot of us, this is mainly because forged wheels usually carry with them a rather expensive price tag – and there are usually more important things to fix on a car (or things to spend on, in general). For the folks with deeper pockets and popular platforms, y’all are lucky that a decent set is just one trip to Banawe away. Ideally though, I believe the forged wheel is usually last on the list when it comes to completing a proper build; Finish everything first and only then you’ll see if the car (and your wallet) is worthy of a set. In the meantime, a quality cast-iron, flow forged, or a used forged set is certainly attainable for most, and there’s nothing wrong with that so long as you’re not compromising on safety.
I’ve continuously built the RX-7 since taking ownership back in 2015 to a point where I can proudly say that I can bring it out on a weekend drive without having to worry much about reliability – A tall order for rotaries, but I digress. These days it’s mostly about the small bits and bobs that require refining or refreshing to further round out the build: interior bits, fresh ball joints, tie rods, and many other suspension underpinnings and such. And while the small things further complete my ideal RX-7, still the dream of having a brand new forged wheel escapes me.
As with most folks during quarantine we’ve been further exposed to the wonders of online shopping, and perhaps a way of coping with the pandemic is retail therapy via anticipating the next package in the mail. I figured that with all that is happening, I may as well bite the bullet to see how the car would look with my ideal set of wheels. Although, it’s not as simple as ‘adding to cart’.
You see, I’ve been very very keen on a set of Yokohama Wheel Advan RS-DFs since I first saw them at Tokyo Auto Salon back in 2017. It was Yokohama’s newest wheel at the time, and what better demo car to display them with than a Blue FEED FD3S as part of their display in the Yokohama booth. That was perhaps the most memorable car for me despite not having any semblance of hype at the show, the wheels just gave the whole car a newfound level of aggression that matched all the FEED aero bits and pieces. I particularly loved how the wheel was forged yet still had a machined lip similar to a three-piece wheel, and I just knew then and there that I needed that exact set on my own FD back home.
Since that trip I’ve found myself poring over the Yokohama Wheel catalog now and then, figuring out what specs could possibly work with my car. Eventually that obsession turned to bringing out the measuring tape and offset calculators online to further check for fitment. My close friends wouldn’t hear the end of it about this wheel from me, and we’d toss around possible options for the wheel just in case – but nothing really comes close. After double checking my finances
and asking permission from the missus, I had our good friends from Autoplus Sports Center get me a quote for the set in my specific sizes.
With the order placed, I now had to play the waiting game. Luis from Autoplus told me that Yokohama has limited production dates for my specified sizes thanks to the pandemic, and with the order we placed last July we’d likely be looking at a production date some time in January 2021 and an ETA a month later. That said, I was expecting the set to come into my possession in 2021, and had my build timeline oriented towards that. I had a fair amount of time to sort out all the suspension and driveline maintenance, so throughout 2020 I focused on most of that first.
By some stroke of luck (and a bit of playing safe with lead time on Autoplus’ part) the wheels actually arrived a few days before Christmas – definitely a perfect gift for the holidays. And in true holiday spirit I figured the wheels ought to sit next to the tree considering I won’t be able to mount them till everyone’s done celebrating the holidays anyway.
The Yokohama Advan RS-DF Progressives I got are in 18-inch diameter and 9-inches wide up front, 10 at the back finished in Machining Racing Hyper Black. I prefer running staggered wheel sizing on my RX-7 since I feel it gives better turn-in characteristics compared to a few other RX-7s i’ve tried running a square setup. Offsets on both wheels are +43 and +40 respectively – conservative measurements indeed, but the FD’s stock fenders don’t allow much more for wider offsets. After all the measuring i’ve done I was pretty confident that these were the perfect specs for a completely stock-bodied FD like mine, but we’d have to wait and see till it’s finally mounted to make sure.
Between Christmas and new year thankfully there was a shop open whom I could trust with mounting this precious set. Since my Michelin Pilot Sport 4’s still have some use left in them I figured i’d still run them on the Advans – albeit with a little stretch. With 235 section up front and 265s in the back all my homework paid off as the fitment looks to be spot on, though I feel that the fronts could use 3mm spacers just to fill the wells properly and compensate for the stretch. (I’d have gone with +40 in front if Advan had that sizing, but 43mm is the closest)
Now mounted on my own RX-7, the RS-DF Progressives are a massive boost in aesthetic appeal compared to the Gram Lights 57CRs I was previously running. The gunmetal spokes blend so well with the metallic green finish while the machine polished lip brings some much-needed contrast to bring focus towards the wheel. To give it an extra pop, I also sourced out some chrome blue Muteki steel lugnuts to act as accent colors that tie in to the blue plate bolts I have fitted.
I’m very lucky to be able to build my dream car with all the right parts and all the right people helping out with the project, even through all the crap we’ve been dealing with last year. To finally see my project have a proper set of wheels to bring out its best look and performance is a heartwarming feeling, and I hope that your build will eventually reach this level of fruition and give this level of satisfaction.
As with all projects though, there’s still a bunch of things in store for the RX-7 in 2021. We’ll be sure to update everyone as we go.
Words by Aurick Go
Photos by Aurick Go, Jose Altoveros