Work Wheels – 40 years of spinning
9tro visited the Work factories and learnt just how these world-renowned wheels are made!
After covering the 2017 Osaka Auto Messe, 9tro joined a group of American wheel dealers for an opportunity to visit the Work Wheels factories based in Osaka and Okayama and thus discovered how these emblematic wheels were put together from processing of raw materials to the finished product – this was something not to be missed!
Created by Takeshi Tanaka in 1977 (the same year this writer was born), Work started with Monobloc wheels and a few years later created a race division called Team EQUIP, a name you have definitely heard of if you like the brand. This division was actually making wheels for several race teams in Formula 3, GT and One-Make race as well as monoplace chassis (with Mr. Tanaka behind the wheel of one of those!).
However, nowadays Work is better known for the two-piece and three-piece rims so many tuners love because of the infinite possibilities and combinations, allowing them to practically get rims to the exact size and specifications they need. As the trend for wide-bodykits has never been so strong, Work offers an unmatched range of products, all of them built with an extreme attention to detail and flawless quality.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the brand and for that occasion a new Work Wheel was created, the Equip 40 in the lineage of the 01, 02 and 03 series. This wheel actually holds a peculiar history so let’s just take a break from our visit to talk about it.
A young French man, Jean-Christophe Pepino joined Work Wheels a few years ago. One day as he was looking for some items in the attic, he came across a set of very old wheels that had been stored there. These were center-locking three-piece racing wheels used on Formula 3 during the eighties. That made him start thinking about making a new “old school” model but as he was still relatively new in the company, no one really followed him on that path. The project went dormant but JC still had it in mind and when the company started talking about a new model in 2016 he jumped at the chance to illustrate his ideas. After considering several different designs, JC’s project was eventually chosen and the wheel had been named “Equip” as a tribute to the very first Wheel brand name Work Wheels created.
But you don’t just come up with a new rim and put it on a wall or a display. For such a model they needed something really cool, a car of course. Kyusha was considered but again, JC came up with something more original, an old Triumph TR3, which Work’s founder, Mr. Tanaka had purchased with hopes of restoring it. He sadly passed away before finishing up on the vehicle so the Work team decided it would be a nice double tribute to finish restoring the Triumph and equipping it with the Equip 40! This car is definitely worth a closer look but we have digressed a bit already so let’s get back to the visit.