Changing Color, Changing Shoes
When VFE supercharges an Audi R8, its performance skyrockets. It only takes a few seconds to realize the enormous loads on the running gear. If you need a rationalization for high performance wheels and tires, this is the time to use it. The crew at WheelsBoutique (WB) share the same mentality. When we asked for a recommendation for the R8, HRE was the first 3 letters we heard.
HRE has set the standard in wheel engineering, design and fabrication with more than 20 years of hard-won experience. And while it’s cutting edge designs are virtually copied on release, it’s the stuff underneath that counts, the really important things you notice at 200 mph when a substandard wheel or underrated tire simply spins itself into a million pieces. Those nifty 22-in “Playa Specials” won’t be much good here. You won’t get another chance to make it right.
Unlike strict TUV standards that govern Germany’s automotive aftermarket, no one in the United States will stop you from selling wheels made from recycled popsicle sticks. Although most wheel makers prefer to use metal, some of it barely qualifies as such.
I could write pages on the value of good wheel design and fabrication but I’m not going to. Nor will we talk about the shitty sand-cast wheels coming from Asia (and that would be so much fun). But there’s a reason why HRE is the go-to brand for high-powered Vipers, Corvettes, Porsches and Audi cars.
WB has a decade of hands-on experience in the deep end of the automotive aftermarket with cars bearing names like Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini etc. They know which fitment work best and work exclusively with the top manufactures in the game.
“The danger these days is the professional shop you think you’re buying from is actually run out of a basement….by a guy that doesn’t know a screwdriver from an audio driver let alone how to properly outfit your Ferrari.” said Keenan of WB.
“We’ve been in business for more than a decade now and our customer base is solid. We must be doing something right.” he added.
As much as VFE and HRE love the science behind our product, WB’s real world experience is invaluable. We learn a lot from them.
The only caveat for the R8 was black wheels. Nothing about size, style or even shape. Just black. WB suggested HRE’s 303M Forged Monoblok for a good compromise between weight and strength.
VF-Engineering is surrounded by some of the nation’s finest automotive talent. It’s an advantage we use everyday, in our products and support services. Our next-door neighbor is RoloTech, an outfit specializing in vehicle wrap treatments. And while SoCal is saturated with companies that do the same thing, RoloTech is decidedly different.
Our previous experience with wraps was mediocre at best. Many cars were of “10-foot” quality (any closer and it looks like adderol-addled 3rd graders went wild with stickers). We’d remove the wrap after whatever and promise ourselves…never again.
David Ramirez of RoloTech changed our minds. The quality of his work is simply mind-blowing. People have flat out called us liars when we show them a RoloTech wrapped car. Invariably, they start clawing the body while looking for seams (don’t do that to anyone’s car regardless of the finish…it’s rude and looks stupid).
“The materials we now use will last three years” said David.
“The pigments and UV coatings are designed to last for three to seven years of open exposure…in both hot and cold conditions. Based in SoCal, I know the material does well in the heat. I’ve had my wrapped 335i parked outside the shop everyday with temps from 80-100 degrees and it’s doing well.”
Vinyl wraps have been used in the automotive sector for more than 15 years, largely by the film industry that needed a quick method to change a vehicle’s color multiple times during photoshoots. The stuff needed to last a few days to a few months. And that was the limit of its durability.
“We use 3M 1080 Series Vinyl almost exclusively” said David.
“It has excellent adhesive qualities and the properties we need to work the material over complex surfaces. Plus, it comes in several finishes and many different colors.”
Before a car receives the RoloTech treatment its surface is deep-cleaned, typically with clay bar and alcohol.
“Like a standard paint job, success depends on the prep work” said David.
“You don’t want to place any sort of covering over a surface that’s less than perfect. It’s not such an issue on a new car. It’s the cars that have been on the road for a while, the cars that have seen multiple wash-and-wax cycles. These need to be stripped down to pure clear coat or paint.”
“Obviously, the adhesive has a lot of grip. While it’s not an issue during the initial application, removing the material can take a sub-standard paint job with it.”
RoloTech removes trim parts, headlamps, mirrors, etc for plenty of material overlap. They use variety of custom application tools ranging from modified heat guns to tampers with tips the size of a grain of rice. Like a 20K paint job, the magic is in the application and David knows all the secrets.
There is a never-ending succession of high performance cars lined up for RoloTech’s treatment, everything from Mercedes G-Wagens to brand new Ferrari F12s. It’s also not uncommon for David to see the same car several times a year.
“People like to change things up….wear different suits I guess.” said David.
“Going from standard gloss to a metallic brushed or flat finish is pretty dramatic. And if the customer gets tired of the outfit, we have a closet full new outfits.”
This R8 came to us clad in the factory Mythos Black Metallic. Two weeks later it was flat black. Currently it’s wrapped in 3M’s S10 Satin White and by the end of next week it will be fitted with the VF750 Supercharger System.