5 Observations On Car Culture In 2016

As 2017 starts ringing in around the world, it’s time to wrap up our end of year posts, and to do that I thought it would be a good idea to make some general observations on car culture trends in 2016.

Keep in mind these are by no means the biggest or most definitive things happening out there, but five of my own random thoughts on the state of car culture in 2016, in no particular order.

Porsche Mania Continues


This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Porsches – particularly the air-cooled ones – have been insanely popular for years now, and each time you think the bubble might burst it only seems to get bigger. Numbers would tell you Porsches were easily some the most commonly seen cars on Speedhunters in 2016.


And no matter how much these cars rise in value, there seems to be no slowing the enthusiasm that Porsche owners have when it comes to modifying their machines and driving them hard.


It’s already been eight years since RWB first started getting big media exposure, but Akira Nakai’s widened Porsches continue to multiply. The world-famous body man continues to build RWB 911s for customers all over the world, with new countries seemingly popping up every week. It’s good to be the king.


And while it’s the air-cooled 911 that are still the darling of the enthusiast community, all Porsche models seem to be riding a wave of popularity among modifiers, from vintage 356s to modern models. Maybe the front-engined cars will be next?


Are the days of affordable secondhand 911s gone forever? More and more it’s seeming that way. But I guess time will tell what happens to a Porsche boom that’s so far showed no signs of going away.

Big Money For ’90s JDM


This is another one that’s been building for a while, but it reached new levels in 2016. I’m talking about the skyrocketing values of high performance Japanese cars from the 1990s. It’s no longer a question of if these cars will become classics, but how just high their prices will go.


Dino saw this first-hand when he encountered an all-original, untouched R34 GT-R being offered up for an unbelievable price tag of ¥17,340,000 or about US$173,000. It’s staggering to think about.


Many have attributed the rising values of GT-Rs to rising demand from the United States now that the import flood gates have opened, and more cars than ever are leaving Japan for new homes overseas.


The same thing can be said for the classic NSX. Whether it’s because of renewed interest in the namesake due to the new NSX, or people just discovering how great the original is, this is another high-end Japanese machine from the ’90s that’s undergoing a big boom right now.


And while this is exciting to see, there’s also cause for concern. Could this mean the days of the heavily modified GT-Rs, NSXs and others are gone as owners start locking up their cars to preserve their value? Will lesser priced cars like the S2000, 240SX and Evo be next?

Off The Paved Road


When Speedhunters first started back in 2008, off-roading was not a subject we covered much, but these days it’s not uncommon to find all terrain vehicles on this site. Part of it is because we are always trying to present a diverse mix of car culture and part is because of the recent uptick in off-roading popularity that can’t be ignored.


And it’s not just seasoned off-road veterans we are talking about. Whether it’s for competition or just for fun, more and more drivers seem to be making the transition from the the pavement to the dirt, including professional drifters Vaughn Gittin Jr. and Forrest Wang.


4×4 fever has even overcome a few of us Speedhunters. There’s Keith’s Project Trailhunter which wraps Chevy V8 power in a classic Toyota Land Cruiser.


And Larry’s Project FJ Cruiser, which isn’t only built for fun but as a working vehicle during the many off-road events that he’s been shooting lately.


Of course, there’s no reason that an off-road machine has to be built out of a Jeep, truck or SUV. I’ve also noticed an increasing number of normal passenger cars built with knobby tires and extra ground clearance. I think we’ll be seeing more and more of this sort of thing as gearheads look for new ways to get their kicks.

The Drifting Nostalgia Movement


On the professional side of things, the sport of drifting just seems to get bigger and crazier, and that’s great. But at the same time, the another part of the sport has gotten big with a decidedly throwback feel.


The idea is to recapture the spirit of drifting as it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with cool looking vehicles, teams with matching cars, and a whole lot of fun.

The Final Bout events are the epicenter of this movement in the United States, and for 2016 the series went nationwide as the throwback drift movement continues to pick up steam.


As someone who first got hooked on drifting during those so-called glory days of the early 2000s, I can certainly get on board with this.


And while I don’t have the disdain for big-budget pro American drifting that some have, I really like the fact that the two can coexist together. Because why not both?

 Over Fenders Are Still Everywhere


Here’s one that’s just too obvious to ignore. The over-fender and wide-body movement shows no sign of stopping, and 2016 was another year dominated by the low and wide.


Looking back, the over-fender movement seemed to have kicked off in earnest around 2013, and I don’t know if I could have predicted that it would still be huge at the end of 2016.


There really is no car that’s been exempt from the trend, whether it’s something old or new, expensive or cheap. Be it Liberty Walk, Rocket Bunny, Pandem or anything else, we are still very much living in the age of the wide-body.


Like many others have said, I think we’ve learned that some cars and builds are more suited to this style than others, and when done right it’s still very cool to see.


Time will tell just how much longer the over-fender and wide-body trend lasts, or how it will be looked back upon, but for now it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere.

So there you have it – a few of my random observations on car culture in 2016. Now I’m curious to hear yours, and while you’re at it how about some predictions for 2017 and beyond?

Mike Garrett
Instagram: japanifornia


South Korea may change EV incentive rule that hurts Tesla

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Country’s rule necessitating 10-hour maximum charging time may be eliminated next year.

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Editor’s Choice: An Alternative Top 15 for 2016

Editor's Choice: An Alternative Top 10 Customs of 2016
Since 2009, we’ve dug through our stats at the end of every year to see which bikes our readers liked the most. The annual Top 10 is a purely objective list—the two-wheeled equivalent of a Billboard chart.

But there are always some builders who didn’t quite make it in, or inexplicably flew under the radar. So, for the second year running, here’s an Editor’s Choice. This time it’s 15 (rather than 10) builders we think deserved more recognition. They’re presented in alphabetical order, by builder’s name.

Gnarly: This Honda CBR street fighter from Australia has a 240-section rear tire.
Builder Wenley Andrews Location Sydney, Australia Bike Honda CBR954RR Fireblade Why Streetfighters aren’t our thing, but heavens above, this brutal CBR is something else. Wenley added the front-end and swing arm from a Honda VFR, and fitted a massive 240-section tire out back. Subtle it ain’t, but it also wins the Rear Of The Year award.


The latest Yamaha Yard Built custom: A retro-futuristic XSR700 from Bunker Custom Cycles.
Builder Bunker Customs Location Istanbul, Turkey Bike Yamaha XSR700 Why The XSR700 is a stonkingly good bike, according to nearly all who ride it. The Uzer brothers took it to the next level with crisp new bodywork and performance upgrades, including Super Ténére wheels, MT-09 forks and a one-off exhaust plumbed into an Akrapovič catalytic convertor.


Heavy Breathing: A turbo’d Harley Street 750 from Cherry's Company
Builder Cherry’s Company Location Tokyo, Japan Bike Harley-Davidson Street 750 Why Kaichiroh Kurosu usually spanners on older Harleys, but he worked a special kind of magic on the Street 750. Virtually every part of the bike is hand-fabricated, with only the front half of the frame remaining intact. And then there’s that turbocharger …


French tailoring: Clutch Customs gives the BMW R nineT a stylish new suit.
Builder Clutch Custom Location Paris, France Bike BMW R nineT Why Willie Knoll, an American in Paris, is one of those builders with the ‘eye.’ His machines always have simple lines and perfect stance, and we can’t find a bad angle on this R nineT. The new bodywork and 18-inch wheels are the obvious changes, but the close-up detail and craftsmanship is mesmerizing too.


The latest release from the Munich workshop Diamond Atelier: A heavily modified BMW R100R dripping with style and immaculate details.
Builder Diamond Atelier Location Munich, Germany Bike BMW R100R Why Every bike from Tom Konecny and Pablo Steigleder is a delight. They’re unpredictable, but also totally focused on the tiny details that can make or break a build. In a world saturated with airhead customs, this one stands out—and not just because of the paint color.


Suzuki GS 550 cafe racer by Eastern Spirit Garage.
Builder Eastern Spirit Location Węgrowska, Poland Bike Suzuki GS550 Why New builds from Lukas and Sylwester are few and far between, but invariably hit the spot. They have the classic café racer vibe absolutely locked down—and who’d have thought a late 70s Suzuki GS 550E could look so good?


California Dreaming: A brat style Triumph Bonneville by FCR Original.
Builder FCR Original Location Poitou-Charentes, France Bike Triumph Bonneville Why FCR are known for their performance-oriented customs, but they knocked the ball out of the park with this classic Brat build. ‘Sunrising’ doesn’t pretend to be anything more than a stylish boulevard cruiser, but with a nickel-plated frame and Ceriani rims, it has a remarkably elegant and timeless feel.


Major Tom: ICON 1000 have turned the Suzuki GSX-R 750 into a nitrous-fueled rocket ship.
Builder ICON Motosports Location Portland, USA Bike Suzuki GSX-R750 Why Collectible 1980s sportbikes are not the best candidates for the grinder. But ICON has always zigged when other zag, and we reckon ‘Major Tom’ is the best build yet from Kurt Walter’s crew. With a Kawasaki ZX-7R front end and solid aluminum V-Rod wheels, it’s full of contradictions—but strangely appealing.

Jamesville gives a shovelhead Harley the cafe racer treatment—with incredible results.
Builder Jamesville Location Slangerup, Denmark Bike Harley-Davidson FX Super Glide Why The old school bobbers and choppers that have made James Roper-Caldbeck famous are not our usual fare, but the quality is obvious. This café’d Shovel, however, is right up our street—and one of the coolest slabs of Milwaukee muscle we’ve ever seen.


Belgian world champion bike builder Fred 'Krugger' Bertrand and famed MotoGP mechanic Bernard Ansiau.
Builder Fred ‘Krugger’ Bertrand Location Liege, Belgium Bike Yamaha SR400 Why Fred has won the AMD World Championship of bike building not once, but twice—with outlandish show bikes that subvert that genre. This SR400 commissioned by Yamaha Europe shows that he can still do the basics amazingly well. Built with the help of MotoGP mechanic Bernard Ansiau (above right), it’s possibly the fastest SR400 on the road, thanks to an Aisin supercharger.


Honda Tracker by Swede Marcus Carlsson of Marcus Moto Design.
Builder Marcus Moto Design Location Stockholm, Sweden Bike Honda CRF450 Tracker Why Engineer Marcus Carlsson likes bikes that are “unique or a bit weird,” and so do we. This is a barely street legal racer, right down to the battery-powered lights, and cooler than an ice-cold shot of aquavit.


A sleek custom Yamaha XV750 by Moto Adonis of Holland.
Builder Moto Adonis Location Roosendaal, Holland Bike Yamaha XV750 Why The XV series has been elevated to icon status in the custom world, thanks to the illustrious American builders Classified Moto and Greg Hageman. But Dutchman Daan Borsje has crashed the party with this stunning streetfighter-tinged XV750. Daan was only 27 years old when he built this bike—making him one of the most exciting young talents on the Euro scene.


Custom BMW S 1000 RR by PRAËM: The Pursuit Of Perfektion
Builder PRAËM Location Paris, France Bike BMW S 1000 RR Why Brothers Sylvain and Florent Berneron stunned us with their futuristic Honda RC51 and then turned up the gas for this even more desirable Beemer. Optimus PRAËM was commissioned by BMW Motorrad France, and sports new bodywork inspired by 1980s endurance racers. Mechanical mods (including carbon wheels) have trimmed the avoirdupois by 20 kilos (44 pounds).


Sub Zero Cool: A custom Yamaha GTS 1000 built in a remote village in Norway's frozen north.
Builder Scheffers Engineering Location Velfjord, Norway Bike Yamaha GTS 1000 Why Roel Scheffers lives in the land of the midnight sun, and a five-hour drive from the nearest city. That didn’t stop him building the most technically interesting motorcycle we saw in 2016. He’s added new rear suspension, a 136 horsepower FZR1000 engine, and bodywork that lowers the machine to just 32 inches in height. Madness, in the finest possible way.


Tangerine Dream: Roland Snel's Yamaha TR1 cafe racer
Builder Roland Snel Location Amsterdam, The Netherlands Bike Yamaha TR1 Why We’d never heard of the TR1, a V-twin tourer from the 1980s, until we saw this very sharp café racer racer from Holland. Roland works for Yamaha, and despite not being a professional mechanic, has turned out a build we reckon even Greg Hageman would be proud of.


Steampunk motorcycle: A Jawa sprinter built by Urban Motor of Berlin for the Essenza sprint at Glemseck 101.
Builder Urban Motor Location Berlin, Germany Bike 1964 Jawa 350 Why Perhaps the most original build of the year, this steampunk sprint bike was created for the Glemseck 101 races. Only the engine remains from the original Jawa, installed into a custom chassis. The extraordinary bodywork was designed by Henry Schulze and built by Marvin Diehl of KRT Framework; Jules Verne would have loved it.


That’s our pick from a spectacularly good year. What’s yours?

Gnarly: This Honda CBR street fighter from Australia has a 240-section rear tire.


BMW Releases Videos on the History of the 5 Series

The New Year’s holiday is usually the time for looking back on the year before us, but it can also be a time when we look back even further. That’s exactly what BMW is doing with its new six-part series on the history of the 5 Series.

As of this writing, BMW has released two videos, each one exploring a different generation of the 5 Series. The first video takes us back to 1972 when the first models came to market. Paul Bracq, BMW’s head of design from 1970-1974, gives an account of how the 5 Series solidified the brand’s new design language for years to come. In the next video, we find out how computer engineering had a big impact on the drivetrain of the second-generation model.

The video series is a good lead-up to the launch of the seventh-generation BMW 5 Series. Bound for U.S. dealerships in February, the 2017 BMW 5 Series receives a host of updates, from more powerful engines to a redesigned chassis and a longer overall body. It also receives gesture control technology and semi-autonomous driving features borrowed from the 7 Series sedan.

Check out the videos below to delve deeper into the history of the BMW 5 Series.

Source: BMW via YouTube

The post BMW Releases Videos on the History of the 5 Series appeared first on Motor Trend.


Countdown to Düsseldorf: Keizer 42

A new Dutch enterprise, started by a pair of passionate boat owners, aims to produce a boat that can take it to the likes of Riva, Chris-Craft and VanDutch in the style stakes

The Keizer 42 takes a bow at Düsseldorf Boat Show
The Keizer 42 takes a bow at Düsseldorf Boat Show

This new Dutch enterprise, started by a pair of passionate boat owners, aims to produce a boat that can take it to the likes of Riva, Chris-Craft and VanDutch in the style stakes but at a much more attractive price point.

It’s no half-hearted side project either, as the yard has employed Dutch naval architecture gurus Vripack to handle the design and engineering, and has outsourced production to German boat-building giant Bavaria.

There is room for a full-beam twin guest or double master cabin tucked beneath the cockpit

There is room for a full-beam twin guest or double master cabin tucked beneath the cockpit

Although the 42 will be built at Bavaria’s state-of-the-art factory in Giebelstadt, Keizer says that the look and feel of its new boat will bear no relation to Bavaria’s own range; all the finishes and materials will be unique to Keizer. The benefit to the consumer is price, because the 42 starts from €240,000 before VAT. The equivalent Riva or Chris-Craft would be several times that amount.

Though the expansive open cockpit is designed for long, lazy hours in the sun, one of the 42’s major plus points is its accommodation.

There is room for a full-beam twin guest or double master cabin tucked beneath the cockpit with an unusual glass bulkhead (with drop-down blinds) enhancing the feeling of light space. Forward is a cleverly combined lounging and sleeping area with a pair of sofas aft of a double bed.

A spacious bathroom completes the lower deck and, like the saloon, it has over 6ft 2in of headroom, according to the yard.

A deep-vee hull design and twin 300hp/400hp diesels or 320hp petrols should be good for 40 knots depending on engine choice and rounds off a compelling package that we look forward to seeing in the flesh at the German show.

Contact Keizer Yachts.
Tel: +31 (0) 6224 61320.
Web: www.keizeryachts.com


Length 44ft 0in (13.4m)

Beam 13ft 1in (3.99m)

Engines Twin Volvo Penta D4-300hp / D6-400hp or Mercruiser 320hp

Top speed 40 knots

Price from €290,400 ex VAT

This article Countdown to Düsseldorf: Keizer 42 appeared first on Motor Boat & Yachting.


Charter speedy Double D in the BVIs this January

If you are looking for a smaller, faster craft to get you from island to island in the Caribbean this Winter, open yacht Double D (ex.ARGO, DEMOLITION and STRAIGHT TO VOICEMAIL) is ready to make your dreams come true from the 7th of January.



Built by Sunseeker in 2007, this 33m/182ft modern yach is capable of cruising speeds of 30 knots and top speeds of up to 45 knots per hour. Based in the British Virgin Islands, her impeccable interior is packed full of toys and features for all guests to enjoy.

DOUBLE D - Salon

DOUBLE D – Salon

Her main salon provides plush furnishings and a light, airy atmosphere great for socialising. The nearby formal dining area will become a focus on the trip with the impressive meals on offer – which includes pork tenderloin with shaved fennel and coconut sorbet with Tuille biscuits – from chef Emma Ericksson.

DOUBLE D - Formal dining detail

DOUBLE D – Formal dining detail

The swim platform grants easy access to the water for hours of entertainment with her generous water toys selection, which contains: 1 Seadoo, 1 wakeboard, 1 kneeboard, 2 paddleboards, 1 inflatable trampoline and snorkelling equipment.

Accommodation includes 1 Master suite, 1 VIP stateroom and two twin cabins. A crew of 4 will provide fine dining from a mouth-watering menu and provide for guests throughout the voyage.

DOUBLE D - Master stateroom

DOUBLE D – Master stateroom

Open yacht DOUBLE D is available for charter in the British Virgin Islands from the 7th of January from $55,000 USD per week plus expenses. To find out about current charter prices and to make a booking, contact CharterWorld today to avoid disappointment.



Old and New

Visiting the Gap of Mamore a couple of days ago, we intended to photograph the formidable pass in a way we had not had a chance to when transversing it on bicycles earlier this year. But before we reached the mountain road, we made a detour for a tiny hamlet by the beach at Tullagh Bay, having noticed something there that peaked our curiosity.

On arrival there we saw that a cottage, that had formerly been a crumpling ruin, was being renovated. A man was up on a ladder, laying down the thatch. Of course I could not resist, and meandered toward him carefully to watch. Minutes later, we were inside the cottage, being given a historical tour of its history and repairs.

Thatched cottages, once iconic of the Irish landscape, had all but disappeared from existence over the past several decades. Unvalued, these structures were abandoned or knocked down nonchalantly by the thousands, in favour of contemporary housing. Only in the past few years has an interest in their preservation and restoration emerged. Not only for historical reasons, but because, increasingly, it emerges that these structures can be made remarkably energy efficient, breathable, weather-resistant, and eco-friendly, whilst using natural and locally sourced materials – from the stone, to the paint, to the thatch.

The roof, the thatcher explained, was actually flax – harvested from a local field, pleasantly soft to the touch and flexible in its unprocessed state.  Excited, I said that I use linen yarn for knitting. He then showed me how flax is turned into linen thread from the raw stalks. To my surprise, not much needs to be done to it. The inner stalk is removed and the outside is combed, until it becomes ever softer and more flexible, almost hair-like. You can get it to a rough, but never the less spinnable state by hand, if need be.

On the subject of spinning, it wasn’t long before talk turned to the serpentine monster behind the cottage and the challenges of conquering it by bicycle.

One of the steepest climbs in all of Ireland, the Mamore Gap sits in the northernmost corner of the island, on the Inishowen Peninsula in Donegal. When crossed from north to south, it is a 2 mile ascent with an average grade of 15%. I believe the maximum surpasses 30%, but my computer gets wonky at that point so I can’t be exact.

For the first time, we crossed the Gap of Mamore last September, as part of an 80 mile spin around the peninsula. My husband went up it in 34/32t, all in one go. I dismounted and walked a couple of stretches – most notably the nearly vertical section pictured. And in honesty, I don’t think my gearing was at fault. My nerves gave out merely looking at the slope. Its pitch seemed so implausible, my courage failed me.

Many years ago now, the thatcher told us, there was a man who lived in the stone cottage. He owned a horse and cart, as well as a bicycle. He alternated riding them over the Mamore Gap, on his way to Buncrana every weekend. The bicycle was, of course, a black 3-speed roadster. High gearing, chaincase, the works. I gulped, despite only half believing this, reliving again my own trek up Mamore.

It was the first time I got off to walk on a climb in over 3 years. This had upset me at first. But later, it cheered me. There are still bits of the landscape – and in my own back yard, at that – that can reduce me to a sniveling novice. And isn’t that wonderful?

There is familiarity to cycling, but also a never ending capacity for novelty. And it is this which I think keeps so many of us coming back to it – day after day and year after year.

With the very best New Year wishes, I thank you all for reading.  


Charter your Thai adventure aboard S/Y Dallinghoo

Start your 2017 adventure aboard 30m/99ft sailing yacht DALLINGHOO: This beautiful gaff rigged schooner was built by Dudley Dix of Rhode Island New York in 1990, updated in 2014/2016 and is ready for charter in Indonesia and Thailand with immediate availability.

Dallinghoo - Main

Dallinghoo – Main

The update to the main salon has created a bright and airy space while maintaining the teak beams which are an essential part of a sailing yacht’s charm. Diners are given the choice of an air conditioned U-shaped interior for relaxed and intimate dining, or alfresco dining surrounded by the lush jungles and characteristic seaside towns of South-east Asia.

Dallinghoo  - Salon dining

Dallinghoo – Salon dining

Dallinghoo - Alfresco dining

Dallinghoo – Alfresco dining

Make the most of the warm waters of Thailand and Indonesia with the toy chest, which includes 1 sailing dinghy, 2 kayaks and diving equipment. Inside, the main salon has a DVD library of over 2,000 films and wi-fi throughout.

Accommodation for up to 8 guests includes 1 Master suite, 1 VIP stateroom 1 double cabin and 1 twin cabin. A crew of 6 will provide excellent service for all guests throughout the journey.

Dallinghoo - Master Cabin

Dallinghoo – Master Cabin

Discover the wonders of the Andaman Sea or the Gulf of Thailand – two areas with developed marina facilities and treasures both modern and ancient covering the coastline.

Sailing yacht DALLINGHOO is available for charter in Thailand and Indonesia from only $24,360 USD per week plus expenses. To find out more about current yacht charter availability and advice on getting the best out of your charter vacation, contact CharterWorld.


Limited time offer: 20% off LIONESS V in the Caribbean this winter

If you are looking for a venue for that once-in-a-lifetime special occasion or to leave a lasting impact as a corporate charter, 64m/208ft luxury yacht LIONESS V from Benetti matches timeless Eastern design with an abundance of exotic flora across all her decks. Now with 20% off her winter charter price, she is more tempting than ever.

LIONESS V - Profile

LIONESS V – Profile

Arguably one of the most impressive interiors from Stefano Natucci and Argent Design, the flow between indoor and outdoor spaces is effortless. The main salon is light and spacious, using its fittings to emphasise the length of the room. Wide sliding doors open out onto a sheltered aft deck where more comfortable seating and a bar awaits – a perfect place to wind down after a busy day or to start an adventure with a morning coffee.

LIONESS V - Main deck

LIONESS V – Main deck

On the other side of the Main salon, a media room will keep the adults and children alike entertained on quiet evenings with the latest films and a comprehensive selection of music. The nearby dining table will seat 12 guests for fine dining from an expert chef. The main hallway beyond features floor-to-ceiling mirrors and a striking pale staircase that connects all of the decks for quick and convenient access.

LIONESS V - Jacuzzi

LIONESS V – Jacuzzi

The bridge deck is an exquisite environment in which to enjoy alfresco dining for up to 14 guests and the raised pool area provides panoramic views of the Caribbean.

LIONESS V - Sundeck

LIONESS V – Sundeck

Luxury yacht LIONESS V has plenty of water toys to entertain in the sparkling waters of the Caribbean, including 2 jet skis, 2 seabobs, a waterslide and inflatable and towable toys for the whole group to enjoy.

Featuring a comprehensive gym, a hammam and a golf tee-it machine on the sun deck aft, superyacht LIONESS V has plenty to entertain guests throughout her voyage and the combined seating areas and facilities throughout luxury yacht LIONESS V make her an excellent option for dockside parties.

Motor yacht LIONESS V  can accommodate up to 12 guests in her 1 Master suite, 3 double cabins and 2 twin cabins. A crew of 19 will provide everything you need for an amazing start to 2017.

LIONESS V - Master Suite

LIONESS V – Master Suite

Superyacht LIONESS V is available from the 10th of January in the Caribbean. During the low season, her price will drop to the special charter rate of  340,000 USD per week (plus expenses) – a saving of 20%. For more information and to make a booking, contact CharterWorld now.

LIONESS V - Upper Deck

LIONESS V – Upper Deck


What are run-flat tyres?

In some ways, car makers see the spare wheel as a necessary evil, but run-flat tyres are one solution that means a spare wheel doesn’t need to be carried.

Spare wheels take up space, and modern car design increasingly likes to use every available millimetre so there isn’t always room for one. Space-saver spare wheels take up less boot space, while many car makers substitute a spare wheel for a puncture repair kit. However, these aren’t much use if you’ve got anything worse than a nail in the tyre, as the sealant solution is only really designed to fill small holes. So rather than carry these alternatives, some car makers offer run-flat tyres on their cars as a means of getting you home should you suffer a puncture.

What is horsepower?

History of run-flat tyres

While rubber tyres date back to the late 19th Century, the idea of tyres that can still be driven on when there’s no air in them only dates back to the 1930s. The first run-flat tyres were designed by Michelin for military use, and featured a semi-bulletproof internal foam lining that could support the vehicle’s weight. However, these were expensive, and didn’t really take off.

In the 1950s, US firm Goodyear created a tyre for Chrysler that featured a special internal lining that could take the vehicle’s weight, but again it was an expensive option.

4×4 systems explained

In the 1970s, Dunlop created its Denovo system, which was a self-supporting tyre that could run without air. It demonstrated the technology by driving a Fiat from Dunlop HQ in Scotland to Turin, Italy, on deflated tyres, and it drove a Corvette from coast-to-coast in the US with deflated rear tyres, too. There was limited take-up of the Denovo tyres at the time. They were offered as an option on the Rover P6 and fitted as standard on the Austin Metro range but that was about it. The technology is, however, the basis of today’s current breed of run-flat tyre.

How does a run-flat tyre work?

There are three types of run-flat tyre: Self-supporting, self-sealing and auxiliary supported. we explain the differences between them below…

Self-supporting tyre

This is the most common type of run-flat tyre. These tyres have stiffer side walls than normal, while there is internal support so that the flat tyre sits on this rather than the wheel rim, thus preventing damage. A side effect of this is that cars with run-flat tyres tend to feel firmer, and don’t soak up bumps quite as easily as those on conventional tyres.

Self-sealing tyre

A self-sealing tyre features a lining within the tyre that immediately reacts if a small hole is made by a nail or screw. It works in a similar way to tyre sealant, and prevents punctures from getting any worse. Self-sealing tyres aren’t common, and only come in a limited range of sizes.

Auxiliary supported tyre

These are the kind of tyres you’ll find on military and armoured vehicles. They feature kevlar reinforcement that can resist punctures and are even bulletproof, while an internal support that can carry the weight of the vehicle is also built-in. These are extremely heavy, so have an adverse effect on handling and fuel consumption, which is why large, heavy vehicles tend to be the only models that feature these tyres.

How to change a car tyre

The modern run-flat tyre

Current run-flat tyres are designed as an alternative to spare wheels, and like space saver tyres, they usually have the same driving limitations placed upon them. Run flats will be fitted in conjunction with tyre pressure monitors, so if you do get a flat, you will get a warning on the dashboard to let you know. You should also be able to feel the car behaving differently while you’re driving.

If you get a flat, then you should limit your top speed to 50mph, and ensure that your journey is as short as possible, as you’ll need to get the run-flat tyre replaced as soon as is convenient.

What is ESP?

Run-flat tyre prices are generally higher than they are for a conventional tyre of the same size, and if you decide to replace the damaged run-flat tyre with a conventional type, then you should really replace all four tyres on the car.

Run-flat tyre fitment

Take-up of run-flat tyres with manufacturers is limited, because they are expensive and don’t offer much more benefit than carrying a repair kit. BMW is the main supporter of run-flat tyres, as it offers the majority of its range with them.

You can get them on sportier Mercedes models, too, while there’s nothing stopping you retrofitting your car with run-flats, although if it’s not recommended for your vehicle, we would advise you to stick with conventional tyres.

Best winter tyres to buy now

Have you ever used run-flat tyres? Tell us what you thought of them in the comments section below…