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Jack Olsen 01-07-2003 01:49 PM

Fuchs History
Paraphrased from Porsche 911: Forever Young, by Tobias Aichele:

Otto Fuchs Metallwerke had made forged wheels for armored military vehicles for Porsche during the war. So it made sense for Porsche to contact the same company when they came up with the idea of creating light alloy wheels for their 911 production car in the mid-60's. Fuchs representative Herr Kretsch offered Porsche something beyond their expectations, though: the possibility of mass-producing a high quality <u>forged</u> alloy wheel.

Nothing on this scale had ever been attempted in Germany.

Heinrich Klie of the Porsche model department (the early version of the styling studio) was given the task of styling the wheel. He became the 'father' of the Fuchs wheel. He is also responsible for a number of 911 design details, including the complete dashboard.

Klie and his team were given no precise instructions for the wheel, so he simply went to work with Plasticine modeling clay and came up with a design. Where styling assignments would typically involve weeks of trial and error, changes, and new revisions, this wasn't the case with the Fuchs wheel. The first model was shown to Ferry Porsche, who approved it "with a wave of a hand," according to Klie.

It then went to the suspension design department, where engineer Rudolf Hoffmann was responsible for the wheel's physical properties. Minor modifications were made.

From there, Fuchs chief engineer Karl-Heinz Ochel had to oversee a whole new process for manufacturing the wheel. 58 steps were required to make a single Fuchs wheel.


From Porsche 911: Forever Young, by Tobias Aichele
"To be precise, the Fuchs wheel was formed by the following steps. A pressed piece of stock was forged to make a forging blank. Next, drop forging the blank produced the ventilation holes and deburred the flange. A further drop forging step resulted in a split flange, before the workpiece was widened by rolling. And here is the secret advantage of this complex manufacturing process: the Fuchs wheel stayed in production for so many years because it could be rolled to any width desired. The forming process resulted in a wheel with a completely finished inner side. The outer, visible side of the wheel was turned on special lathes, which resulted in the smallest possible wheel imbalance. A carefully developed surface finish -- polishing, anodizing, and painting -- permitted different design variations over the years and assured high corrosion resistance."

After being tested directly on numerous cars, some very minor changes were made, and the wheels were offered on the 1967 models. There was some internal controversy in the company over the design itself, but the marketing people prevailed in support of the wheel, and history proved them correct. The wheel became a runaway success and remained a design fixture on the 911 for 20 years.

(Image quality is only so-so because I don't have a scanner. I used a digital camera.)

Adam 01-07-2003 02:11 PM

Jack, that's pretty interesting. Thanks for posting it.

I'm surprised that the Fuchs alloy was the first design made. The dismissive "wave of the hand" seems to go against all of the ingrained engineering and styling forethought that we hear and read about Ferry Porsche.

Don Plumley 01-07-2003 02:38 PM

Interesting story - thanks for posting this!


RickM 01-07-2003 02:44 PM

Interesting story. Does Porsche still forge stock wheels for there cars? I'm in the dark as to how their late model wheels are manufactured.

BlueSkyJaunte 01-07-2003 02:44 PM

Wasn't there a Fuchs article similar to this in Excellence about a year ago? Anyone remember? I'm at work and unable to access my library.

TimT 01-07-2003 03:00 PM

Yes Excellence had article a few years ago about fuchs wheels, Ive seen both photos before.

Its reall cool how it goes from a slug of metal to a finished wheel, 58 steps!!! no wonder they are costly ( love my 7&9's)

MotoSook 01-07-2003 03:31 PM

Nice post. I swear I saw a video sometime ago that showed a more detailed series of wheels in the making that really left an impression in my mind. I thought it was pretty amazing how they spun and pulled the wheels to the desired width.

So I wonder where the tooling for the wheels are? In some museum or sitting in some guys barn waiting to be discovered and put back into action. Then modern metallurgy can surely be put to better use.

And check out that 60'd hottie in the picture. ;)

dtw 01-07-2003 03:56 PM


Originally posted by RickM
Interesting story. Does Porsche still forge stock wheels for there cars? I'm in the dark as to how their late model wheels are manufactured.
Fuchs is still producing small batches of forged alloys for Porsche. It is said that Wheel Enhancement buys all the production. Don't know if that's true. That said, I believe most production Fuchs sizes can still be ordered from you friendly neighborhood Porsche dealer parts counter.

Jack Olsen 01-07-2003 04:00 PM

That's Klie with the wheel, and Butzi holding the rim section. I think everyone else was in the room because word had gotten out that there was going to be a female in the meeting. ;)

Mark Wilson 01-07-2003 04:06 PM

Great story Jack, thanks.

Wil Ferch 01-07-2003 05:49 PM

All modern Porsche wheels are cast...likely vacuum or pressure process. ....but not forged.
Cast wheels can be made strong...they just won't be as light for the same strength.
Counter-point.... thre is an interesting story in one of the Up-Fixin volumes ( somehwere !) that deals with large scale production of forged, laced ( BBS style) wheels made in Cleveland for Ford...for the Crown Vic's and such...

---Wil Ferch

beamonk 01-07-2003 06:19 PM

I saw a show on the wheels being made a year ago or so. I think it was on speedvision.

Tim Walsh 01-07-2003 06:31 PM

wow.. nice post.. I always wondered where they come from..

osidak 01-07-2003 06:31 PM

That looks like Ferry holding the wheel section and Butzi is to left and next to the woman

rs911t 01-07-2003 06:45 PM


Ferry holding the wheel section
Where's his right hand? ;)

That's very cool. Has anyone seen the machinary they used? That itself must be amazing. Thanks.

Jack Olsen 01-07-2003 07:09 PM

The rolling machines were made by the Kieserling company of Esslingen, which is near Stuttgart.

I may have Ferry and Butzi confused.

autobonrun 01-07-2003 08:22 PM

Great story thanks.
I'm always interested in history, especially Porsche history. I was thinking earlier it would be a good series if Excellence could do these type stories in their magazine every so often. Imagine the stories out there if the editor could hook up with some retired Porsche engineers from the 60's and 70's. I'd like to know some of the thought processes behind the designs we see; kind of a Paul Harvey 'rest of the story' thing.

Emission 01-07-2003 11:41 PM

One nice thing about a forged wheel vs. cast wheel... during an impact, the cast wheel will crack and break (or worse, shatter). A forged wheel will bend. Many times this can mean the difference between losing the tire and wheel (and control) and coming safely to a stop.

speeder 01-08-2003 01:25 AM

Going a little nuts at home with your great library and no 911 to drive there, Jack? :D Great post though, right up there with Cegerer and Warren's scanner sessions. Fuchs are the zenith of quality for production car wheels, (maybe production car parts ), like the basic 911 shape they cannot be improved upon, IMO.

Incidentally, I have a Fuchs toothbrush, made in Germany and purchased at Rite Aid, excellent quality. I wondered if it was another division of the same company, they have to keep busy making something since the (sad) demise of their wheel operation. :cool:

smestas 01-08-2003 02:47 AM


Thanks for the post! Knowing more history about the cars we drive just makes me enjoy the ride that much more. Awesome post.

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