02 Feb Land Rover Alloy Wheel Refurbishment
New wheels are always fun. La Poderosa has had the same wheels for over 22 years. They’re aluminum alloys and they’re beautiful but flashy. It’s time for a change. The following is an account of our Land Rover alloy wheel refurbishment project.
There’s a special pleasure in giving new life to something old. Mexico is a society that reuses things rather than replaces them and we like that; these wheels are an earlier, 3-spoke design of the Land Rover aluminum alloys. Range Rover used this style of wheel in the US from its introduction in 1982 through 1990, after which it was replaced by a 5-spoke aluminum alloy.
Back when Land Rover was introducing the Range Rover to the upscale US market, it presented an early Range Rover with rostyle wheels in the magazine, Vogue (much like this early red Range Rover). The collaboration was a success, the vehicle a hit, and a second wave of In Vogue Range Rovers sporting the 3-spoke wheel design arrived on the scene.
We like to think about where these wheels rolled before being forgotten in someone’s barn or workshop. They may have had some pretty posh experiences before joining us in Mexico. We found these old Range Rover Classic wheels in Arkansas and had them shipped; they were a little neglected and showed some surface oxidization. But they clearly had potential.
Both sets of alloys – old & new – have extra ridges on either side of where the tire meets the wheel, helping to keep the tires in place, even when the vehicle is at an angle and pushing on the tire sideways.
Tricky logistics while on the road in the US almost put an end to this project on more than one occasion but we ultimately met the wheels at Hill Country British in San Antonio, a day before crossing the border back into Mexico.
BTW – our road trip through the American Southwest will be in the Spring issue of Alloy+Grit. Check it out!
We drove the wheels 700 miles south to our home base and had them sand-blasted, painted, and mounted in Guanajuato City – all for US$162. The wheels themselves were $US200 plus shipping. Overall, we’re really pleased with how this project panned-out. The black wheels tone the Rover down, adding a subtle elegance, with a nod to an earlier Land Rover icon. Hope you like them as much as we do!
When we mounted the new wheels in Guanajuato yesterday, the guy reminded us that we’re running on 9 year-old BFGoodrich Mud-terrains. We joked that we could get another 2 years out of them but the truth is La Poderosa needs new tires. While they still have tread, rubber breaks down over time. Four or five years is about all you can safely ask of tires – even if hey are seemingly indestructible BFGs. This is our third set of BFGs…maybe the fourth, if we include the All-Terrains that came stock with the vehicle.
And while we’re certainly pushing it at this point, we’ve never had a flat. Crazy, given where we live. BFGs are some well-made tires and we hope to put another set on soon but we’re open to ideas and whatever used tires friends might have lying around.