Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: Under what name was Italian wheel maker Borrani originally founded?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you are right.
Have you noticed that there are seemingly no new cars available with wire wheels any more? That anachronistic form has long been surpassed by solid or multi-piece alloy wheels which are generally better equipped to handle the performance dynamics of the modern automobile, but also prove more stylistically appropriate with today’s designs.
That’s not to say that some people don’t appreciate the look of wires under modern rides, and that has engendered a small but solid aftermarket industry. A popular choice here is Dayton, maker of wheels with so many spokes they look liked chromed bamboo forests. The most famous of wire wheel makers however, is Italy’s Borrani. Their wheels underpinned just about every post-war exotic and near exotic until about 1975. The company is still in business today, nearly a century after its founding, but while its name may be synonymous with wire wheels, it was different at that founding. Then it took the name of the company that made wire wheels for automobiles a practical affair.
From Veloce Today:
Borrani is the best known manufacturer of wire wheels, and they are also a large part of the history of the automotive wheel, a subject that is generally taken for granted. The automobile wheel has evolved from a wire bicycle wheel used on the small pioneering cars of Benz and Ford to a sturdy wooden-spoked affair capable of withstanding deeply rutted country roads. In the 1920s a lighter, pressed steel wheel which was widely used throughout out the industry and remains the stable for production cars today. In the 1950s, the use of all alloy aluminums and magnesium wheels became popular and that too, remains a constant to this day.
Overlapping this wheel evolution is the wire wheel. In use before the turn of the century, the wire wheel came into its own in 1908, when the British cycle company of Rudge Whitworth patented the method of a splined axle stub and locking central nut. The ability to change tires quickly was essential for racing and only Bugatti dared to leave the Rudge Whitworth fold with the spoked aluminum wheel of the Type 35. The center lock wire wheel was virtually universally adopted for racing, sports cars as well as many street and luxury cars, and remains with us today. Rudge Whithworth allowed its patent to be licensed. It remained for a wise and eager entrepreneur to expand the Rudge Whitworth patent to the European continent. Enter Carlo Borrani from Milan.
Founded on April 22, 1922 by Carlo Borrani with the objective to produce and market wheels for cars, motorbikes and cycles, “Rudge Whitworth Milano” was established in Milan having a share capital of 1,220,000 Lira. It was located Via Ugo Bassi 9.
The company would be an immediate hit, securing orders from Alfa Romeo, Mercedes Benz, and Maserati. They produced wheels for street as well as for the race track. It was on the latter that they became the wheel of choice for many teams who prized Borrani’s combination of light weight and strength. In 1938 the company changed its name to name to Carlo Borrani S.p.A. Today the company goes by Ruote Borrani, Milan and produces both new wheels and reproductions—wire and otherwise—of its classic designs.
Image: Veloce Today