words by pablo deferrari
"...his clients paid more attention to the aluminum cast wheels on his Opel than anything he was selling at the time."
The first wheels were sand cast at a foundry in Weingarten, and then machined by Karl in Walldorf and fitted on an Alfa Romeo Duetto in 1969. It was during that time that the company name morphed the “AL” in aluminum, the key material used to manufacture the wheels, to RON to form RONAL.
In September of ’71, RONAL got its first OE order from Ford in Cologne and by ’74, they produced 100,000 wheels in one year. Then in ’76, they opened a second factory in Saint Avold, France.
By 1978, overall production passed the one million mark, and that’s when the “Secret Project” was developed; the wheel of my adoration, the RONAL turbo.
This wheel wasn’t designed by committee, nor was it a marketing strategy, it was a design done in tightly scheduled spare time. This project was spearheaded by Harald Ertl, the 1978 Racing Sport Champion title holder who convinced the head of development at RONAL to design a three-piece RONAL turbo wheel. At the same time, Ertl dreamed up a group 5 race car as a successor to the Lotus Europa which gave him enormous publicity.
"RONAL would simply put the wheels together according to your specs using barrels and lips of varying widths and off you went."
The RONAL Turbo wheel was the star on the title image in the October issue of Auto, Motor und Sport winning a wide range of wheel tests. Their design and engineering became the “technology of the future.”
Needless to say, this wheel has gained a cult following much like the classic BBS RS three-piece design. This prompted RONAL to launch the new R10 Turbo at the 1999 IAA in Frankfurt, Germany and with the new look came new sizes to suit modern applications.
The R50 Aero continues the classic design well into the 21st century, but what could be better than an original vintage set on any early water-cooled Porsche? The look is not only period correct, it’s timeless.