Twenty Inch Strong and Pirelli pump up the bling
Tina Turner sang that "big wheels keep on turning." And if you know anything about automotive aftermarket bling, you know that those big wheels keep on getting bigger.
The question is: How big can that bling get? Well, at least 30 inches in diameter, it seems.
At the 2006 New York International Auto Show, Pirelli Tire North America and wheel maker Twenty Inch Strong introduced the first full production 30-inch wheel and tire package.
Thanks to its flexible Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS) production process, Pirelli can profitably turn out very small runs of very specialized tires, such as the new 315/30R30 Scorpion Zero Asimmetrico.
When Pirelli launched its Scorpion line of tires for sport utility and light trucks in 1998, the largest size was 18 inches.
But, noted Pirelli's Guy Mannino, "Our past initiatives in this product area have driven huge interest in 'plus' sizing on light trucks, to a point where 22-inch tires can almost be considered the norm."
It was less than three years earlier that Pirelli introduced a 23-inch tire. In 2004 it upped the ante to 26 and in 2005 it launched a production 28-incher.
A few weeks later, Mannino and Myles Kovacs, one of the founders of Dub magazine and co-founder of Twenty Inch Strong wheels, found themselves vacationing at the same resort in Mexico. Kovacs said he'd discovered that the Hummer H2 could be equipped with a 30-inch wheel and tire and thought they would appeal to a small but influential group within the hip-hop/urban culture market.
Because MIRS allows Pirelli to produce small batches of tires, Mannino put the company's state-of-the-art plant at Rome, Ga., to work on a tire that was both load- and speed-rated for high performance. Kovacs had Twenty Inch Strong develop a new three-piece wheel made from aircraft-grade aluminum for the tires.
Pirelli's first 100 sets of the tires were available only through Twenty Inch Strong and only on the 30-inch TIS W Collection wheels. Suggested retail price for a set of four wheels and tires was $45,000.
For more information, visit the Pirelli (www.us.pirelli.com) or the Twenty Inch Strong website (www.tiswheels.com).
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