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But not a trip to a boutique or shop that sells wheels, but instead a trip to a wheel manufacturer. One of my closest friends, Tom, owns a wheel company that provides strong, lightweight wheels to the BMW street/race community, but few know that he also makes the wheels for a Connecticut-based Corvette/Camaro upgrade facility whose cars are so modified that they no longer carry GM badges. DFORCE has done very well for itself providing an alternative to the other viable performance wheels available for the cars they fit, which at this point only include the BMW 3 series, 5 series, and the Mazda Miata - Specifically the Spec Miata race class. Their inexpensive 15x7 LTW5 is only 13 lbs, comes in silver, black, anthracite, and bronze, and after two winters of running them mercilessly over the worst pavement that New England has to offer I can safely say that they are some of the strongest wheels I've owned as well.

With the Abarth on its way along with the advent of the new race class that includes the 500, Tom plans to jump into the Fiat market and I was there for a test fit. Tom's newly built shop, ACE Performance, exists in the same facility, and they are already servicing a good amount of the local club racers' track cars along with a few exotics here and there.

The plan was to see if my 91 BMW 3 series wheels would fit the 500, and use wobble bolts to affix the 4x100 wheels to the 4x98 hub, but the too-large Fiat hub center proved the deal breaker. The measurements were taken for a future run of 500-specific wheels, and they can't come quickly enough. I really liked the way the LTW5 looked on the Fiat and can't wait to run them.











































I let their head technician, another close friend of mine and modified 02 M5 driver, take the 500 for a "rip" once I felt I'd coached him enough on the finer points of handling such a powerful car.
As an engineer and master instructor on new technology for BMW NA, he is usually very critical when it comes to cars, and his comments were nicely reaffirming:

"Dude this car feels great! It's just not slow! I can't believe how much fun it is and the interior layout is seriously nice. You were right about the seat being a bit too upright but you forget all about it when driving. It's no secret that I am no fan of the base MINI and I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd drive this thing!"

Agreed. :D





[video=youtube;Z3CU0LJ8x6w][http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3CU0LJ8x6w[/video]
 
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