The last piece of the puzzle

The real deal - our BMW 635csi is shod with genuine BBS Rims (Photo: Oliver Hirtenfelder)Alec, Bruce and Wade identified the 3 main key components in replicating the Schnitzer BMW 635csi’s of the 80’s as:

  • A left-hand drive BMW E24 635csi (check!)
  • A reliable and strong engine (check!)
  • Solid mechanics (check!)
  • The 'x-ray artwork' and the correct BMW stripe colours (check!)
  • And then the BBS Centre Lock Rims

Each of the components above provided their own challenges, but none more than the rims. It would have been easy for the team to just source 5 stud rims from the local wheel shop, or a BMW scrapyard but Alec and the team were determined to honor Schnitzer and BMW Motorsport with our replica. So sourcing BBS Centre Lock Rims was important.

Hours and hours of speaking to fellow racers, trawling e-Bay, typing in “centre lock rims” to Google and paging through local and international racing magazines were spent; but with not much luck. With South Africa’s Rand being weak compared to the Dollar/ Pound/ Euro it wasn’t a case of just throwing money at the problem and having the rims made locally. The centre dish could be replicated in South Africa and the outer and inner lips/ rim halves could be sourced in South Africa or would in fact be imported by the wheel specialist.

The Centre Dishes arrive from BBS GMbH GermanyAfter consulting with Charly Lamm (of Schnitzer Motorsport) and BMW Motorsport, they suggested we make contact with BBS. As luck would have it due to the popularity of historic motorsport worldwide, BBS GmBH started doing limited runs of the ‘old’ Rim Centre Dishes. After quite a bit of email correspondence between Bruce and Winfried in Germany towards the end of 2012, Bruce and Alec decided to take the plunge and purchase 4 BBS Centre Lock Dishes (due to costs) in early 2013. Due to the team not knowing the exact rim sizes/ off-sets, the team was confident that we could source the inner and outer rim halves locally. A local wheel specialist was tasked, and the required measurements were worked out, and supplied. For nearly 3 agonizing months the team waited. Then on a Friday morning, we were notified that the rims were ready for collection.

With great excitement Bruce and his brother Gavin set off to collect the rims - we could finally take another step in the 635csi project. But there was yet another obstacle. The rims had been made up to 16”, not 17” (as per our clear instructions and measurements). So we were back to square one. It looked as if there were no decent  17” inner and outer lips for 3-piece rims in South Africa. Time to look overseas again, searching on Google and the worldwide web…

Inner & Outer Lips sourced from BBS USAWhilst browsing the BBS of America website gallery, we stumbled across the recently restored BMW E9 3.0 CSL Batmobile for BMW USA. We got in touch and communicated with Eric in the Motorsport Sales & Service Department of BBS USA who was very helpful and excited from the outset about our projects. Sizes were discussed, measurements checked… and with confidence we ordered all the necessary parts to make up 17” 3-piece rims: inner and outer rim halves, the gaskets, bolts and washers, and the valves. Within a week we received our package – what service!

All the Rim parts were sent off for assembly. When the rims returned shod with Bridgestone Semi-Slick Rubber from Kyalami SupaQuick. With bated breath we put our new 17” BBS Centre Lock Rims onto the vehicle, dropped the car onto its wheels and…..  well judge for yourself. We certainly think the car looks fantastic.

After all the toiling and stress, our BMW 635csi replica looked the real deal just like the cars in the 80’s. Thanks to Moreno of Bridgestone South Africa for assisting us with the semi-slick rubber, Winfried of BBS GMbH and lastly Eric of BBS of America. We are extremely grateful that these international companies are able to give their time to help us.

If you are in the market for 3-Piece or 1-Piece BBS Centre Lock Rims, BBS Centre Dishes, Inner and Outer Rim Halves/ Lips, or other Wheel/ Rim Parts; please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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