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Written 8-11-2005

4 out of 5

BBS began with Heinrich Baumgartner and Klaus Brand back in 1970 in Schiltach, Germany. Hence the name BBS: Baumgartner, Brand, Schiltach. Shortly after, BBS was brought to the USA. By the 1990s, they were providing wheels to manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Daimler-Chrysler, Ferrary, Jaguar, Porshe, Volkswagen, and many worldwide racing teams. They have pioneered many a unique manufacturing process for wheels and this technology still influences the wheels we buy from them today.

In late 1991, BBS of America moved its headquarters next door to the famous road course Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. BBS Motorsport regularly uses the track to test and develop new products. I would say that is more than convenient.

BBS wheels are available in various sizes from 14" all the way up to 20" depending on the style.
Prices depend on size, design, and finish.

5320 BBS Drive
Braselton, GA 30517

First off, I should state that I originally chose the BBS RS-GT Diamond Black wheels for my 2nd Project Car. I was sent the wrong sizes (a set for an M3) and those offsets are WAY off since we test mounted one on the rear and it stuck out of the fender about 2 inches. It turns out that I wouldn't have had the clearance behind the spokes for the Brembo brakes anyway, so a change of wheels was necessary.

The Brembos actually limited my choices severly and from what I had to pick from, I decided to stick with BBS and get the CH style in Silver. I ordered up a set of 18x8.5s for the front (with 235/35-R18 BRIDGESTONE POTENZA S-03 tires) and 18x10s for the rear. Now, says the 18x10s will fit the 3 Series sedan. They are simply wrong. Fitted with a 255/35-R18s, it just barely fit and would rub the sidewall over bumps. Off to the wheel shop I go to roll the fenders. After TWO seperate rolling trips, it was just not going to happen. The 18x10s were returned and replaced with two more 18x8.5s wrapped inside the 255s.

Now, the offset of the BBS CH in 18x8.5 for the BMW bolt pattern is +35. This means the hubface that touches the brake rotor is 35mm out from the wheel centerline. The bigger the offset, the more the wheel hub is pulled towards the car. A smaller offset is what creates those deep dish lips so popular these days. The way the offset acts with the wheel width is how it sits inside the fender and affects your clearances. By getting wheels with the offset you want, you can achieve the look or performance you want.

Since the 18x10s I returned had the correct offset of +40, the hubface and spokes were in the right place, the wheel was simply too wide to clear the rear fender. With the 18x8.5s, I ran into another problem as I still rubbed over hard jolts. I was determined not to have a Project Car that had inconsistencies or quirks, especially when performance is king, so it was time to make some serious alterations. My choices were to modify the suspension, fender, or the wheel. The wheel was much easier, so it got the knife. We enlisted the help of WHEEL SPECIALISTS, INC in Tempe, AZ to mount the rear wheels in their Haas CNC machine and actually shave 5mm off of the hubface to bring the rear offset up to +40. They were professional and exact about the process and even redrilled the lug holes to mount steel inserts. The inserts strengthen the area around the lugs since we removed a decent amount of the wheel in the process. The lugholes are actually stronger now than before.

Since the CNC work the wheels have fit perfectly and the car runs like a champ. I have had no issues whatsoever, no cracking, wobbling, or other drivability complaints. Even after a few track days at Phoenix International Raceway, they are perfect.

My only beef with the wheels is the fact that I had to modify them to fit the application that supposedly would fit. It would be much easier to just offer the wheels in the real correct size/offset for the said application. There is no 18x9 in CH, and no 18x8.5 in the correct rear offset. Also, the 18x10 simply is too much for the 330i sedan. I imagine it works in the coupe as there is more fender room. This cost them a point my review.

BBS makes many wheel choices and most of them are lightweight (my CHs are under 24lbs each). If the RS-GTs had enough spoke clearance to clear the Brembos, they would have looked great and fit perfect. Without the big aftermarket brakes, they would work very well since they came in 18x8.5 front and 18x9 rear with correct offsets. Regardless, I have received many compliments about the BBS CHs and they have now grown on me. I really love them and couldn't see any other wheel on the Project ZHP.


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