ScienceofSpeed's 2002 Style Forged Wheel samples have arrived, and we're close to begin delivery, currently expected in mid August (click here for more info). In the meantime, we'd like to share with you the origin story of this exciting new offering from ScienceofSpeed!
When the First Generation NSX refresh was announced in late 2001, more than ten years had passed since the original NSX was announced at the Chicago Auto Show. During that time, incremental changes were made available - including an updated wheel design in 1994, removable targa roof for the 1995 model year, a more powerful 3.2L 6-spd M/T update for the 1997 model year, and a special "Zanardi edition" in 1999. The refresh for the 2002 model year was the most significant in terms of appearance. The refresh included a number of cosmetic changes - including a slight change to the tail lamps, lower rear bumper valence, new side rocker and door panels, fixed headlights, and a new front bumper and front hood to accommodate the shape of the new headlamps. These changes continue, eight years later, to be a controversial topic. However, the updated wheels featured on the 2002 model are nearly universally accepted as one of the most appreciated updates made.
The 2002 wheels are forged, with an elegant seven spoke design in 17x7.0 front and 17x9.0 rear sizes. The wheels, typical of factory design, were heavily inset, especially in the rear, to meet manufacturer mandates of water and debris spray. The wheels were offered in a number of finishes, including "BMW Silver" on all US-models, "Washi Grey" and "Championship White" being two popular Japan-market finishes.
These wheels have long been coveted by owners of earlier NSX years. The 1991-96 NSX require spacers for the wheels to clear the spokes. Because of this, a popular modification was to install 15mm and 25mm spacers in the front and rear respectively. The spacers allow the wheels to clear the brakes while fixing the "tucked in" appearance. These wheels look great on earlier NSXes, especially with these spacers. Unfortunately, due to the limited availability - this option is expensive, and most factory wheels, if purchased on the used market, are in need of refinishing from chips, scratches, and curb rash.
ScienceofSpeed has long been interested in producing a wheel inspired by the 2002 NSX wheel. The design ideally would authentically reflect the beauty of the original wheel and maintain the quality and high-performance benefits of the factory forged construction. In addition, the design would address brake clearance issues, feature a modern flush fitment, and perhaps a 1" staggered size of 17" / 18" to retain the effect of the earlier NSX wheels where the larger rear wheel accentuates the NSX's body shape produced by its mid-engined configuration. However, no wheel manufacturer was interested in producing the wheels in such a limited quantity at an attractive price. Most of the custom forged wheel manufacturers that you're familiar with do not even produce 17" forgings any longer.
In 2016, at the Special Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), we were introduced to a new company led by an industry veteran who previously managed Mackin Industries, the USA distributor for Rays and Advan wheels. Titan 7's motto is "Forged for All". Titan 7's approach to wheel manufacturing is unique to the industry and spans the gap between expensive "one-off" custom forged wheel manufacturing and high volume OEM wheel production. With an established overseas manufacturer using industry-leading forging equipment already producing OEM forged wheels, Titan 7 has been able to offer application-specific forged wheels tested to OEM quality standards at a reasonable price.
In 2017, ScienceofSpeed worked with Titan 7 to produce a forged wheel exclusively for the Second Generation NSX. This wheel, designed from the existing T-S5 model, featured Second Gen NSX specific features including factory hub bore and wheel bolt seats. This wheel is still the only aftermarket Second Gen NSX wheel produced in production quantity.
After this successful program, we set our target on our ultimate goal - to bring a 2002 NSX style wheel to the First Gen NSX. A number of months were spent modeling the wheel to see what physical characteristics, including the lightweight nature of the factory wheel, could be retained while improving brake clearance and a more flush fender fitment. A poll was created in a popular NSX Facebook Group to get the community's input on wheel design and finish options. This information was important to ScienceofSpeed because it gave us owner feedback on sizing and finishes. In addition, due to the significant financial commitment required, it also gave us validation from other owners that this was a valued prospect. ScienceofSpeed would need to commit to a 120 piece production run in order to get the project started and achieve the "Forged For All" target pricing. After announcing pricing and availability details, we were very pleased to be able to achieve enough pledges from customers to initiate manufacturing within two weeks of announcement.
The ScienceofSpeed 2002 Style Forged Wheels are now offered in two size combinations:
- 17x7.5+45 & 17x9.0+40 (+16mm further offset compared to factory)
- 17x7.5+45 & 18x9.0+36 (+16 & +20mm further offset compared to factory)
These sizes and offsets achieve a number of objectives - including a modern fender fitment and brake clearance for factory and even larger aftermarket brakes. High-performance design targets for weight and load capacity were also achieved. By performing additional CNC machining operations to the hub mating surface, despite the additional material needed to increase the offset, width, and diameter, weights were kept low at 17.4 - 18.4 lbs! In addition, wide compatibility with high-performance tires in 17" and 17"/18" diameters were made possible. Both sizes are available in one of two finish options: BMW Silver & Washi Grey.
In addition to achieving an elegant wheel inspired by the factory design and our performance targets - a number of features were included in the ScienceofSpeed design. The first was a knurled tire bead seat. This machine-produced knurling where the tire mates to the wheel reduces tire slip maintaining the tire's position on the wheel and ensures full engine power is transmitted to the road.
In addition, an innovative wheel counterbore was designed that allows both factory center caps and the aftermarket option made available by ScienceofSpeed to be compatible with the wheel.
The wheels are one of the only forged wheels available for the NSX that feature NSX-specific center bore hub sizes - no spacers are required.
For more information on the ScienceofSpeed 2002-Style Forged Wheels, please click here.