Carbon fiber wheels are well on their way to becoming the future material for vehicles. Its lightweight and strength make it perfect for performance cars. In addition, the material has improved so much that the wheels may be making their way onto trucks and SUVs in the future. Carbon Revolution makes the ultimate wheels for the Ford Mustang GT500 Track Pack and the Corvette Z06, and even Ferrari. Hagerty sat down with the founder of the company, Ashley Denmead, and got some insight into some secrets regarding the wheels for the Ford Mustang.
Ford Mustang: Carbon Fiber Wheels
The Ford Mustang GT500 wheels needed to be engineered to handle the massive heat loads that come from the vehicle’s weight and the immense speed, so Carbon Revolution fits a special thermal barrier to the inside of the GT500 front wheels. The coating reflects 100 degrees celsius worth of heat and keeps the wheels out of danger.
Even if a driver does manage to overheat the carbon fiber wheel, it’s not the end of the world, as Carbon Revolution and Ford have both tested their wheels to duty cycles beyond anything they believe the GT500 or Ford GT can produce on a track. If the wheels reach the hot zone at temperatures brakes cannot generate, the epoxy in the wheel barrels softens, and the tires will start to lose air. Thankfully, there are no explosions.
Many people believe that carbon fiber wheels are incredibly fragile, resulting in some tire shops not even wanting to accept customers with these kinds of wheels. But Carbon Revolution wheels aren’t as delicate as one may think. This is due to them wrapping a hundred layers or more in high-stress areas, up to a quarter-inch thick. Denmead noted that they’ve never seen a crack going all the way through a wheel barrel. If you hit the wheel hard enough, it can be damaged, but it’s also possible to repair a Carbon Revolution wheel. The company has a Stateside repair partner that can replace damaged layers and refinish them to factory specifications. Unlike aluminum wheels that start developing microscopic cracks the minute you put weight on them, carbon fiber wheels shouldn’t show degradation over time.
Pricing for Carbon Fiber wheels is certainly a drawback, but Carbon Revolution aims to make the wheels cheaper in the future. That is in addition to the dividends paid by improving acceleration, fuel economy, and ride quality with a reduction in wheel weight. No vehicle segment wouldn’t benefit from using carbon wheels.
Eight years ago, Ford used to have the carbon fiber wheels on the Ford Mustang GT350R painted, covering the beautiful weaves. This was due to the resins used by Carbon Revolution not being completely UV-proof, which caused them to weaken over time by sunlight. This wasn’t unique to Carbon Revolution, as many bicycle manufacturers painted over their carbon fiber frames during the nineties to solve the same problem. Luckily, Denmead’s crew tested new UV-resistant resins, so today’s GT500 wheel is just as light as the GT350R’s despite being larger, and we can still look at the gorgeous carbon fiber weaves in the wheel.
It’s not only the Ford Mustang Shelby muscle cars that Carbon Revolution supplies wheels to. Chevrolet has also contracted the Australian company to build a unique set of carbon fiber wheels for the 2023 Corvette Z06 supercar, which launches this summer.