Are Volk Racing TE37 the best wheels of all time?
Mark’s got himself some new wheels, and they’re not attached to a car
Internationally renowned photographer Mark has been working with TG for many, many years. When not taking photos he’s buying inappropriate cars. Here he shares his addiction with the world…
The Nineties era of Japanese tuning introduced us to many brilliant things. Like the 1,000bhp Nissan Skyline, or the highly flammable, highly reflective bomber jacket. Essential wear for any tuning guru.
But even better than this was a wheel called the Volk Racing TE37. A lightweight, six-spoke design which, if you’ve ever played Gran Turismo or watched old footage of cars racing around Tsukuba, should already be familiar.
According to RAYS Engineering (who make the TE37), this name wasn’t the result of a cat walking across a keyboard. Instead, a nod towards its intended use and target weight. The TE bit stands for Touring Evolution, and the 37 (or rather 3.7kg) is the actual weight achieved by its entry-level 15x6in wheel design.
That was 25 years ago, and over that time there’s been the odd variation. In fact, a quick look on the website shows no fewer than 32 different TE37 models to choose from.
What makes the TE37 so good? Looks aside, they’re machined from a single piece of aluminium using a mould-form-forging process, which means the wheel shape and spokes form along the grain of the metal. In simple terms, that increases the wheel strength without the need for excess material and weight.
Then there’s the spokes. Each of the six spokes is designed to not only dissipate heat away from the brake caliper, but also increase the ventilation around it. So not only are you reducing unsprung weight, you’re also assisting the brakes at the same time.
The classic six-spoke finished in crackle bronze will forever be the best in my eyes. It doesn’t seem to matter what car they’re fitted to; it always seems to work. Which is just as well because I’ve ended up fitting them to most of my cars, including the 360 Challenge racecar.
If I really wanted to bore you I could say these TE37 Sagas are lighter than the OEM wheels and considerably stronger. In reality, they’re an absurdly cool wheel design and nothing says ‘I grew up unhealthily obsessing over Japanese car culture’ than bolting TE37s onto an Italian sports car.
In the case of the 360 Modena Challenge, I’ve kept the rears in line with the OE size of 18x10.5in due to the ancient traction control system. For the fronts, there’s a bit more space to play with. That means a jump from 18x8in to 18x9in with a slightly wider tyre too.
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If there’s one negative with a good TE37, it’s the fact they’ve become a bit of a collectible item now meaning tracking down good (used) sets is both difficult and expensive. But on the flipside, it’s a testament to just how respected these wheels are 25 years after their launch.
So long as they’re still being used and not squirrelled away I see no issue with a TE37 world takeover. Now, who can get me a set in BMW 750iL fitment?