By Kelvin Dodd
A common concern among Jaguar owners is to balance the original look of their cars’ wire wheels with the demands of modern motoring. Moss Motors now has a solution to this quandary by offering an extensive line of original Dunlop Wire Wheels in a wide variety of sizes and spoke lacings. Whether your concern is exact authenticity on an early car or the need for a painted, triple-laced wire wheel for competition, your needs can now be met. Here are a few of the features of 15” Dunlop wire wheels for the Jaguar XK120-XK150, E-Type, and classic saloons.
These Dunlop wheels are available in two different hub configurations: curly hub and “easy clean.” The stamped-steel curly hub was originally fitted up to July 1968, when it was replaced by the forged easy clean hub. The stamped curly hub is unique to Dunlop and offers a more classic, interesting appearance. As the easy clean name implies, this style of hub forging is easier to polish and gives the wheel a smooth, more modern look.
Painted Vs. Chrome
Most Jaguars were originally fitted with painted wire wheels. Chrome wheels were a popular option, but the stove-enameled look may be what you want to set your car apart on the show field. Painted wire wheels were used on all competition cars, and they can add a more correct, purposeful look for vintage racecars and other high-performance machines.
Painted Dunlop wire wheels have very high corrosion resistance. Before being painted, they are primer-coated using Cathodic Electrophoretic Technology, popularly known as “electro-” or “e-coat.” The silver-gray paint topcoat combines with the primer to give the wheel a salt-spray resistance of 840 hours when tested per ASTM standards. Painted wheels have a one-year cosmetic and two-year structural warranty.
Each chrome Dunlop wire wheel has a rim and shell which are polished in special-purpose machines, then hand-polished by skilled craftsmen. To enhance the corrosion resistance, microporous nickel plating is done prior to chrome-plating. The product conforms to the stringent International Standards ISO 1456-1988 specifications. The spokes and nipples are chrome-plated stainless steel for brightness and long life. Chrome wheels have a two-year cosmetic and three-year structural warranty.
For the ultimate in corrosion protection, Dunlop offers a new line of stainless steel wheels, which also features a tubeless design. The all-stainless construction makes rusty and pitted chrome a thing of the past. These special-order wheels have a two-year cosmetic and three-year structural warranty.
Original Jaguar wheels used an inner-and-outer lacing design where the spokes connect to the inner and outer rims of the wheel. This gives the wheel strength and is the best lacing design for originality and road use. The disadvantage is the difficulty in keeping the rim clean where the spokes connect.
Center laced wheels have their spokes connecting the hub to the center rib of the wheel only, giving the outer rim a clean, attractive appearance. This type of wheel typically has a greater offset due to the lacing design, which brings the tire closer to the outer fender lip. Center laced wheels often appeal to Jaguar owners who are more interested in giving their cars a custom look than in concours-correct original equipment appearance.
Triple laced wheels are very strong and are suitable for extreme performance use. As the name implies, the spokes go to inner and outer rims and also to the center rib. This type of lacing is suitable for vintage racing use and also adds the competition look to a hard-driven street car.
Rim Widths and Tire Considerations
Original 6-cylinder E-Types and saloons had a 5”-wide rim with a 2l.0mm inset, and later cars were fitted with 185HR15 tires. This combination gave the car a vintage look and feel, which many owners still find timeless. The original wheel and tire combination offer a lightness in steering and suspension that can be lost with wider wheels and tires. The ability to drift around corners with the tail hanging out is not about to endear the driver to the gendarmes, but is an important part of the original experience of the car. The 5” wheels will accept 185/70 to 195/75 tires and retain the original look of the car.
For those interested in modernizing the car or re-creating competition options, Dunlop offers wheels up to 6.5” wide. These wider wheels will accept the generally available 205/70R15 tire, which was stock on the V12 E-Type. The combination of 6” or 6.5” wheel and wider tire fills out the wheel wells of the E-Type and gives its lovely body shape a stronger look—more along the lines of today’s mega-rubber fashion. Care must be taken to ensure tire clearance with the wider wheels. In most E-Type applications, the rear bump stops may have to be removed for wider-tire clearance; this is simple to do and does not affect safety. On the Mark II and 3.8S saloons, rear fender clearance is critical, and some modifications to the fender or spat may be necessary with even a 6” wheel.
Wire Wheels for Earlier Jaguars
Common practice for XK owners has been to forego their original 16” wheels in favor of 15” wheels to allow a wider range of tire choices. However, Dunlop now offers alternatives to the standard 16” wire wheels. Two versions are available: a 6”-wide wheel with 72 inner-and-outer laced spokes and a 6”-wide wheel with 60 outer-laced spokes (which closely resembles the original competition offering).
Knockoffs: Winged or Safety
Two-winged knockoffs were standard on wire-wheeled Jaguars until 1968. At that point, U.S. legislation mandated octagonal-style “safety” knockoffs. Those who own the newer cars and want to keep them original will want to retain the safety knockoffs. However, this design change was forced by bureaucrats, not Jaguar Car Company engineers. Returning the car to its intended design in conjunction with new wire wheels can be part of an overall refurbishment of the vehicle. Winged knockoffs bring back the original look and charm of these cars at no more cost than replacing damaged original safety knockoff nuts.
In conclusion, the availability of this extensive line of Dunlop wire wheels is great news for American Jaguar owners. New replacements can actually be more affordable than rebuilding original wire wheels. And, compared to steel or mag wheels, these spokers are lighter, look better, and have knockoffs for easier tire changing.