"These build journal entries are part of a special series on the crowdfunding, development and fitment experiments of the flowformed OE+ M359 wheels in 19x10 and 19x11.
In this journal entry, I cover the backstory to the development of the OE+ M359s in flow formed."
This was 2006.
The E9X M3 was developed back in 2005 and 2006. Back then, the outgoing Porsche 996 911s were running 285 at the rear and we thought that was wide.
The M3 was introduced with a respectable 265 rear tire on the 9.5" and 245 front tire on the 8.5" 219M and 220M wheel designs.
BMW later introduced what is arguably the greatest wheel design ever produced: the M359.
Building upon its now classic E46 M3 CSL wheel design. the classic mesh Y design was developed for the M3 GTS.
It featured 0.5" widened front and rear widths to accommodate the GTS uprated tire sizes of 255mm front and 285mm rear.
Not bad, but not wide enough.
Various BMW focused brands developed various fitment options and wheel designs to find what is arguably the ultimate tire fitment for the E9X M3.
Front: 265/30/19 to 275/30/19 on a 10" wheel
Rear: 295/30/19 on an 11" wheel.
This perfectly balances grip and playability of the BMW M chassis with a Naturally Aspirated S65.
Welcome to the big leagues.
Did you know the wheel & tire industry is the biggest market in automotive aftermarket industry?
"In fact, performance and special-purpose tires represent the largest sales category within the specialty-equipment tire market, according to the recently released “2020 SEMA Market Report.”
From 2016 to 2019, the category’s market size grew from $2.22 billion to $2.54 billion.
Of course, tires are useless without wheels, and custom wheels as a category grew steadily in market size from a $1.21 billion valuation in 2016 to $1.32 billion in 2019."
My love and hate relationship with the wheel industry continues to this day.
In my 15 years in the automotive aftermarket industry, I have seen companies come and go. Such is the nature of launching a business, everything that has a beginning has an end.
Yet, this mantra seems to be particularly accelerated in the wheel industry.
I have seen wheel brands owners get called out for money laundering, racist remarks, or just flat out picking from the piggy bank of customer payments to afford their outrageous lifestyles.
Wheels are a fashion item, it's easy money.
High ticket prices, high margins, high visibility & essential products, easy access to Asian manufacturing and branding like basketball shoes.
Market opportunities in the wheel industries are everywhere; it is a marketer's wet dream.
Big markets attract all kinds of players: usually the bad ones get weeded out over time and the ones doing it right with integrity emerge and thrive in the long run.
Meet Eze @ AG Wheels
AG Wheels, also known as AvantGarde wheels, has been in business for close to 20 years. Its ownership and employees have been in the industry forever.
I was first row to their launch of AG Forged wheels lineup which slowly but surely has become a staple in the aftermarket forged market.
They have a reputation for delivering quality products, at great prices, and supporting communities worldwide with proper service.
Flow Forming Technology.
Eze put me up to speed on their new manufacturing abilities with flow-forming.
Flow-forming technology was introduced in the early 2010s by various companies in the aftermarket wheel industry.
"It was called many names: spun forged, rotary forged, semi forged. Whatever: it's flow formed."
This unique technology essentially allows to take a low pressure gravity cast wheel molded in a pancake, and form the barrel to the desired widths.
The benefits over cast.
- Lighter: 25% less weight
- Stronger: 20 to 30% higher tensile strength
- Higher load rating: greater shock resistance to road imperfections and track duties
- Flexibility in widths: a manufacture is able to flow form wheels to various widths using the same wheel face.
The blueprints to an OE+ M359.
After a few chats with Eze and EuroConnex members, we landed on the following base specs.
We decided on keeping the OEM rear wheel spec, fitting it to the front: 19x10+25.
This gives enough leeway for owners running stock suspension who need a more conservative offset. Owners that are lowered can run a 10 to 15mm spacer depending on alignment targets.
The dream specs of having a 11in rear wheel specifically for the E9X M3 by using flow forming technology was achieved. The rear suspension of the E9X M3 is already aggressively spec'ed by BMW in stock ZCP trim.
I picked a more aggressive +25 offset for the 11" rear wheels. Fitment is perfect and the OEM suspension has enough flexibility to avoid rubbing at any height.
I've always longed for proper widened E9X M3 OEM ZCP 359M wheels with the front wheel's spoke profile being just as concave as the rear.
The concavity profile is 1 to 1 with OEM in on the 10in & 11in variant for true OEM+ aesthetics.
OEM Hypersilver paint
The wheels are offered in a standard finish: Hypersilver. AG uses a 3 stage paint process to achieve as close to OEM as possible, there will be slight variations to the trained eyes.
Gloss & Satin Black, along with Gunmetal are offered as custom powdercoat options and are done at AG Wheels facilities in California. These add around 2 to 3 weeks to lead time and a slight upcharge.
Next step: we go from blueprint to production. I receive the first set of OE+ M359s and document my first impressions.