StanceWorks visits the HRE Facility

Let’s face it: StanceWorks is inarguably made up of wheel snobs enthusiasts, and when we got the opportunity to tour the HRE facility and get an inside look at how their forged wheels are manufactured, we were more than excited. Wheels and the wheel industry mean a lot to us, and the opportunity for us to take an inside look at some of the finest wheels in the world tickled our fancy to say the least.

The history of aftermarket performance wheels is something near and dear to us. We’re fans of the real deal and the names who bring us “the good stuff,” and we push to celebrate the guys who are still in the wheel business for the right reasons. HRE isn’t afraid to stay true to offering more than just a pretty piece of metal. They’ve got heritage, prestige, and most importantly, true engineering. This is our opportunity to educate the community.

Alan Peltier, the president of HRE, gave us the full walk-through, from conceptualizing a wheel and the design process, to the manufacturing and finishing of the wheel. Alan prides himself and the company on precision engineering, cluing us in to the fact that form follows function when it comes to their business philosophy. HRE is in a constant strive for perfection.

The entire process begins, quite obviously, with design. An HRE wheel begins life as a concept sketch, says HRE’s Creative Director, Patrick Moran. Having designed everything from cars, to airplanes, to consumer electronics and footwear, Patrick took us through the attention to detail the concept design encounters. Once modeled in ProE software, the initial design is fine-tuned by checking proportion, surfacing and of course, strength and weight parameters. After a first article is produced, the team scrutinizes the design even more by checking to see if it lives up to the HRE brand.

“Once we have a prototype, we’ll check the reflections on the wheel to make sure they’re flowing correctly. We also look to make sure the surfaces transition and integrate as we envisioned and if not, we go back and edit the design. This process continues until it’s just right.”

Another step that separates an HRE wheel from the others is a process called Finite Element Analysis. FEA is just one of the testing elements required when designing a wheel and ensuring its structural integrity under load in countless situations. It’s all part of what makes a wheel light, strong, and of course, superior. FEA software costs more than a car, but in the end, it wins races and saves lives at the same time. There’s more that goes into wheel construction than just designing something that looks pretty, and HRE builds a product they’re proud to put their name on. So once a wheel is designed and is aesthetically pleasing, it is tested in as many ways as possible. Countless changes are made in order to make the wheel perform as well as possible while keeping the desired visual appeal in check.

After the design process is complete, the wheel moves to manufacturing. For 3-piece wheels, this means forgings for the centers are cut on a 3-axis mill. What starts out as a solid 80-lb chunk of aluminum quickly turns into an elegant wheel face, which is later assembled with its respective wheel halves.

If it is a monoblock wheel, the spun forging, which slightly resembles the overall shape of a wheel, is put in to the first of two lathes. The first one machines down the outside of the soon-to-be wheel. The “barrel” of the wheel is turned down to mere fractions of an inch, completing the exterior.

Photo by Andrew Ritter

From there, the blank goes from the vertical lathes to the horizontal mill where the face is machined. After opening the CNC machine’s door and allowing the steam of coolant to clear and the coolant itself to run off the hot metal, you really see how the design and finish work come together.  Hours of machine time go in to each wheel, one by one, all made to order. Each wheel is custom tailored to the client’s needs, from diameter, to width, to PCD, offset, and backpad/brake clearance. Once the forging leaves this machine it is officially a “wheel”, so to speak.

Photo by Andrew Ritter

As a final step before finishing, and arguably one of the most important and scrutinizing steps of the process, is quality control. As part of QC, each wheel’s roundness is checked to ensure it meets the standards of the company. It’s steps like this that keep companies like HRE on the upper tier of the wheel manufacturing industry. This isn’t something you’ll find in every facility: this is the real deal.

Photo by Andrew Ritter

Each wheel is finished in-house, starting with a chemical bath, one by one, to ensure it is flawless before powdercoating. The chemical dip cleans them, but only after being cleaned by hand one final time with mineral spirits do the wheels head off to finishing. Every stage of wheel production is done by hand, and the part that customers notice most is the luster at the end. One might assume that a company which produces so many wheels must finish them in batches, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Every single wheel that moves through the HRE production line is finished and assembled by hand. One by one, each wheel is cleaned, polished, powdercoated, and assembled. There are a group of guys who take pride in the wheels they build, tightening each bolt and fastener on each wheel with the understanding that these wheels are more than just some “aftermarket modification”.

At the end, what you have is a truly gorgeous wheel that has been engineered to perfection.

But there’s more than meets the eye. So much more. The heavyweight (I suppose featherweight is more appropriate) in HRE’s corner of the ring is their passion behind creating what they consider to be the perfect wheel. I’ve met a lot of people who are passionate about a lot of things, and when Alan explains to what extent he goes to in the pursuit of perfection, it’s easy to see why he fits right in.

His pride and joy is HRE’s competition series. There’s no doubt that wheels are something he loves, but the challenges he has overcome with shaving fractions of an ounce exemplifies Alan’s true fanaticism. For him, form is function. Tens of dozens of revisions go in to perfecting a wheel, from milling down every spare millimeter of space, to drilling weight-reducing pockets into the back of the wheel, and even cutting into the sides of each spoke, it’s all in the hunt for the ultimate in wheel technology and performance. It’s aerospace engineering brought to the streets… and it’s passion and dedication like this you can’t find just anywhere.

While SW won’t become a wheel company, we can certainly appreciate what goes in to making a quality wheel. We strive to push those that represent their industry in the best way possible, and HRE does just that. We’ve made an obvious stand against replica wheels here on SW, and we hope this shows why. You get what you pay for. And so in short, if we made wheels, this is the way we’d do it. Right here, folks.

There’s more to come from HRE, this is only scratching the surface.

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Passion Behind What We Do

There’s only one way to preface this article, and that’s by saying the name “Oxer.” Those of you that don’t know him need to hop on over to the forums and educate yourselves. Those of you that do know quite well that Ox is an integral part of the SW family. At the beginning of the month, Ox flew over to the United States from his home country Australia. He’s here on what is inarguably the best cross-country trip anyone has ever experienced, and it’s all in the name of StanceWorks. So what is the best way to commemorate a life-changing adventure? Well, Ox had something in mind.

We drove over to Absolute Ink in Murfreesboro, Tennessee this morning, where Ox walked in knowing exactly what he wanted. He says “it’s the whole reason I’m in the U.S. to begin with, and this has been the best month of my life.” The objective? The S|W pentagon on his left calf. It was only a matter of minutes before, as we say, “shit got real.”

There was a lot of excitement to be had, as this is Oxer’s first tattoo. Josh Adams, the artist, laid the first bit of ink and it was all downhill from there. Ox was a bit nervous about finding someone to do some incredibly straight lines. Being an artist himself, he’s got high standards.

I’m sure that if you had asked Ox a year ago if he’d wind up in a Tennesseean tattoo parlor getting the SW logo tattooed on his leg, chances are it wouldn’t be a “yes”, but alas, here he was, after making a flight to the United States and seeing the entire West Coast, from LA to Seattle, and then over to Chicago, and now here. It’s been a non-stop all-laughs party that is going to end far too soon. We’re doing what we can to get him to move over, so if you get the chance, help us out.

Josh took his time on the tattoo, taking about an hour and a half to do the deed, but in the end the result was perfect. Something tells me that this won’t be Ox’s only tattoo, but being a part of his first has been a true honor and something I certainly won’t be forgetting.

So in the end, Ox has a tattoo that represents something so much more than a website. It represents dedication to what he loves. It’s more than a logo, its more than a name. It’s family, 100%. It goes to show that we’re not here because it’s “cool”, we’re here because it’s what we’re passionate about. We’re not just another web blog. We are StanceWorks.

So thank you, Ox, for showing your love. We love you too.

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Just Your Typical Saturday Night.

Burnouts in one of the busiest intersections in downtown Chicago in a 400whp flat-black E38 known as nothing other than Gold Wheels. That’s how we spend our Saturday nights, screaming through cross-streets with open cutouts and barking velocity stacks.

It’s never easy to put Gold Wheels in to words, and its inarguably a love/hate car; but I have no question that everyone who sees the car in person, and more importantly, hears the car, falls in love instantly. Riding in the car, let alone driving it, is an experience in and of itself and represents the Fluid crew perfectly.

It’s a car that makes no sense, yet makes perfect sense. It’s nearly a limousine but has the attitude of a race car, and the appearance of an automotive Rottweiler. It’s simply Gold Wheels.

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Motor Union 2011

Ahem..

Now that I have your attention, I can only say that I am on the verge of passing out. Why? Well today, we had our way with the pavement and showed the track guys that the “stance kids” can hang too. So what brought on such a marvelous day? Our friends at Fluid MotorUnion hosted what they plan on being the first of many annual track days. It went off smoothly, without a hitch, and was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had.

The event was put together as a way for the extended Fluid family to get a chance to get out on the track, whether it was their first time or they’re a regular. The event was a very reasonable $150 with everyone getting at least 6 sessions. It catered to bikes and cars, welcoming everyone from all makes and models. It was literally a smorgasbord of automotive lunacy.

And if you’re not familiar with who Fluid is, well, I’m disappointed. They’re without question our favorite shop in America, catering to the automotive aftermarket while not pushing the envelope, but ignoring it entirely. They’re known for their ludicrous velocity stack setups, creating controversy, amazing sounds, and power.

Fluid brought out their slew of mind-blowing cars and had no fear of throwing them all on the track to prove there’s undoubtedly a method to their madness.

Everyone had a phenomenal time tackling the South course of the Autobahn CC in Joliet, IL. Several guys brought prepared cars to the event and some guys brought their daily drivers.

There was also a small car show, which ended with a few awards being handed out, and a raffle was held to give out tons of free goodies. Familiar faces showed up, including Kamil from the forums.

But what made the event truly special for me was that it was… wait for it, my own first track day. I showed up this morning with no intention of driving. My mission was to shoot and enjoy a day of quality motorsports… but as the day went on, I was persuaded to give it a shot with my girl, my e36.

It was at my standard height with paper-tight fitment all around, and plenty of stretch, but after debating it for a moment, I decided to give it a go anyway.

So this one is for the guys who have insisted that “stanced” cars can’t get jive. I may have rubbed off more tire than your average track car, but none the less, I was out there hammering on the car for a full day. I put our StanceWorks Zero Clearance to work and the car handled amazingly, although I’m sure there are guys who will argue my control arm angles weren’t optimal. There’s no question there’s room for improvement, but you can’t say we’re incapable.

Poked/Flush? No problemo. I pushed the car as hard as I could on the stretched tires, and much to the internet’s disappointment, they didn’t unbead or fly off. Shocking, I know. In fact, the car was remarkably quick, passing a number of cars each run. It’s certainly not a track-ready setup, but it does the job and has no problem putting a smile on faces.

So in short, today was one of the best I can remember, all thanks to an event put on by some great people. I’ve been promised that next year, Motor Union is a guarantee and you can bet I’ll be there. Although it was unbelievably hot, the fun outweighed it tenfold. I’m pumped to do another track day. The track experience has been a great one to add to the list, and I’m more than excited to put my foot in the door and show that just because we like our cars to look good doesn’t mean they can’t perform too.

So here’s to Fluid MotorUnion for putting Motor Union (yeah, that’s confusing!) together. Hopefully in years to come we can see it grow into a yearly highlight. Thank you all!

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Apartment 9 & the Chevronissonda… no… Honissevrolet… no… Damnit.

There’s no doubt that wheels always make a car. They separate those that “do” from those that “don’t.” They’re often the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. So when you have a wheel importing and refinishing company, it only makes sense to build the most badass wheels you can conjure up and then build a car to fit, and that’s exactly what Apartment 9 and Mastermind have done.

Walking in to Apartment 9 is sort of like walking into Heaven’s storage closet. Wheels everywhere! So what does Apartment 9 do? They ship containers full of wheels from Japan to America. They’re not the first to do it, of course, but the best? That’s hard to argue. Their goal is to redefine the used-wheel market, and here’s where they’ve started.

19″ Leon Hardiritt Ordens. Yeah, I’d like some too. So what do you put some a gnarly set of wheels on? Well, the guys at Mastermind decided that the only way to do the wheels justice was to build a monstrous and sensational wide-body tire-smoking Honda, Nissan, and Chevy mashup.

It’s been dubbed the “Odyvia” and chances are you’ve seen it before. It’s hard for cars like this not to jump in to the limelight. But if you’re unfamiliar, what you see is a JDM mini-van front-ended S13 240sx. I too had oogled and oggled at photos, but there was a tidbit that I feel was never mentioned…

There’s a 505-horse LS7 Z06 crate engine under the hood. The engine only has 20 miles on it, but that didn’t stop Takashi Ohira, part of the Mastermind crew, from burning the tires for us.

The Mastermind gang gave everyone a ride in the beast, and it’s something to behold. It sounds like a stock-car, and tosses you back in to your seat and reminds you what the red, white, and blue has done right.


Takashi tells me that the car was taken all the way down to the unibody for the build, and the craftsmanship shows. Its builds like this that need to be seen. The entire interior was re-done in alcantara and as a whole, the car lost the “Nissan” vibe and just seemed like some type of prototype or concept car. It was outstanding. Do we get to thank the wheels? I think so.

So we’re back to Apartment 9- we’re excited to have them on board. Why? Because they’re pushing the concept that used wheels are good wheels, and their goal is to do it on an entirely new level. We’ve all dealt with companies that will sell us old wheels, but the company seems like it’s run from someone’s cell phone and they have poor interaction with the customer… but Apt 9 is planning on changing that and they’re here to work with you to make your “odyvia” happen. They’re a real-deal company with real car guys and wheel enthusiasts behind the desks.

So, Apt 9, let’s find some Hartge splits for papa.

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