about BBS

The 50-year trajectory of BBS,
the company that added a new era
to 5,000 years of wheel history

Prolog ... “The history of wheels - The challenge for wheels has not changed over 5,000 years”

The wheel is said to have been invented around 3,000 BCE by the Mesopotamian civilization.
In this region, where agriculture developed early thanks to the blessings of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and its fertile soil, there was a lack of resources such as metal, timber and stone. Commerce developed through trade in these resources, and economic development was supported by the invention of wheels, which allowed large loads to be carried easily and quickly. Around 2000 BCE, a spoke structure was invented for weight reduction and the improvement of strength. Carts were not the only vehicles. Wheels were also used for battle chariots and the like. In particular, in order to ensure high mobility during battle, chariots had to have higher load-bearing capacity and lateral load capacity, as well as better durability, lightness and toughness than before, and wheels evolved into a spoke structure, still made of wood but with greater mechanical rationality.
And then, around 700 to 500 BCE, the Hallstatt culture, which brought ironware to Europe, invented the iron-wrapped wheel. Under the Hallstatt culture, which ruled Europe for 400 years using horses and battle chariots in addition to axes, iron swords and iron farming tools, improvements in the strength and durability of iron-wrapped wheels had a major impact. After the invention of the spoke brought about changes in structure, the wheel developed further due to the change in material.

Time passed and in 1867, the solid rubber tire was invented.
Rubber was used for the first time on wheels, which had not evolved significantly for more than 2,000 years. Since these were solid rubber and not filled with air, they did not have any impact absorbing capacity like the later pneumatic tires so they were used mainly on low-speed vehicles. Solid rubber tires were also used in the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, said to be the world’s first automobile.
In 1888, British veterinarian John Boyd Dunlop invented the pneumatic tire for bicycles. Compared to conventional tires made of iron, wood or solid rubber, which lacked shock absorption, pneumatic rubber tires improved riding comfort greatly and enabled high-speed driving. This contributed greatly to the later development of automobiles, and Dunlop was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2005.
In 1924, Ettore Bugatti invented the world’s first aluminum wheel for automobiles. With more than 1,000 race wins, including those that made it the 1926 Grand Prix champion, the Bugatti Type 35 was a masterpiece racing car, equipped with aluminum wheels of high rigidity, light weight and high heat dissipation. Bugatti also used innovative techniques such as casting brake drums into the wheels.

1960s Until the birth of BBS
Baumgartner’s passion for racing


Heinrich Baumgartner, one of the founders of BBS, opened a car maintenance and repair shop in Schiltach, Germany. Baumgartner started race activities with a Hans Glas 1600GT the following year. From then on, he continued his research and refined his know-how on race tuning to achieve brilliant results.


After the ailing Hans Glas became a subsidiary of BMW, Baumgartner also switched vehicles to BMW. Baumgartner played a role as BMW’s racing constructor while receiving tuning requests from many amateur racers who saw his results. He continued further development while listening to the needs of many racing users in this way.

1970s The beginning of commercialization
BBS technology was born and grew with racing.


Baumgartner and his fellow countryman Klaus Brand launched a company that made automotive parts. They named the company BBS, using the first letters of their surnames and that of Schiltach, the town where they founded the company. Their initial products were mainly FRP aero-parts for BMW and Ford. These products were adopted for cars in the European Touring Championship (ETC), which was popular at that time.


At around the same time, Washi Beam Co., Ltd., a Japanese company that would later have a major impact on the development of BBS, was established in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture as a manufacturer and seller of aluminum bobbin winder beams. The development of technology for winding large amounts of yarn and meeting the bobbin strength required for large load bearing capacity was utilized later as technology for forged aluminum wheels.


Baumgartner, who was very familiar with the importance of vehicle weight reduction through his own racing experience and many support services, focused on the fact that the weight reduction of wheels was insufficient even in top category races. He completed a lightweight, highly rigid forged three-piece aluminum wheel for racing with a unique mesh design that took advantage of the mechanical rationality of wire cross spokes.


Washi Beam succeeded in producing an aluminum forged beam flange 40 inches (about 1 m) in diameter by developing technology that uses a relatively small press machine and continuously forges parts while rotating the material. The company cleared various problems that were technically very difficult, including heat management, and established the technology to produce high-quality forged aluminum products at the global top level using relatively inexpensive equipment.


BBS, which welcomed Martin Braungart who worked for Ford Motorsport and BMW M after being headhunted from the position of Daimler’s chief engineer, and strengthened its ties with many race constructors, achieved overwhelming victories in major racing categories around the world unrivaled by any other wheel manufacturer, breaking through to become a global brand.

Center of photo: Heinrich Baumgartner / Left: Klaus Brandt / Right: Martin Braungart

1980s The era of Japan-Germany technical cooperation
BBS, which opened the history of forged wheels


BBS of Germany had foreseen the great potential of forged aluminum wheel production, but began looking for technical cooperation because there seemed to be no prospect of such ultra-high capital investment. They received calls from many companies around the world, but were worried about selling cheap products using only their brand name, and were unable to encounter a company that could sympathize with their corporate philosophy of authenticity backed by technology.
Baumgartner visited Japan at that time for inspections after receiving tie-up proposals from companies including Washi Beam. After inspecting multiple Japanese companies, he was shocked when he saw the split forging technology of Washi Beam, the last company he went to visit. The tie-up came together at once with the matching desire to introduce forging technology from outside and Washi Beam looking at the future of the textile industry and seeking to diversify.


BBS of Germany and Washi Beam formed a technical tie-up and established BBS Japan. The company newly installed a 5,000 ton forging press and started on the development of a three-piece aluminum forged wheel. A process of trial and error began to complete a disk surface with a complicated mesh design by forging. The company carried out technological development to reproduce a dynamic and beautiful dish surface while maintaining a forging line that would guarantee the wheel’s high strength and low weight.


In February, BBS Japan completed its first product, the “RS” three-piece forged aluminum wheel. The “RS” wheel passed not only the domestic standards but also the stricter German OEM standards and the evaluation by BBS in Germany, where samples were sent for further confirmation, was one of praise. In April, 200 of the new and long-awaited “RS” wheels were shipped as scheduled and sales started on the aftermarket.


Realization of the world’s first one-piece forged aluminum wheel with a complex mesh design. Although it would be the ultimate wheel, stronger and lighter than the three-piece wheel and without air leaks in principle, it was technically difficult and the world’s top manufacturers struggled over its development. The completed one-piece “RG” wheel received the grand prize for technological innovation at the SEMA Show (an exhibition for imported automobile parts) in America.
On the sales side, the one-piece RG was added to the export of the three-piece RS, which started the previous year, in addition to sales in the domestic aftermarket in Japan. Moreover, OEM deliveries to automobile manufacturers began, starting with an option for the Nissan Skyline. Subsequently, OEM supply expanded gradually to various manufacturers.

BBS forged one piece wheel wins the Technology Innovation Award at the SEMA-AIA show in the US.

Supplied our first OEM equipment wheels to Nissan as Skyline's option wheels.


As a result of winning the grand prize for technological innovation at the SEMA Show the previous year, sales of forged products increased explosively in a way that convinced the market of their high prices, which exceeded conventional wisdom.
Compared to the previous year, sales made rapid progress, with RS sales about double and RG sales about triple. Supply and demand were so tight, the sales field was confused.


At the World Endurance Championship (WEC) held at Fuji Speedway on November 29, cars with BBS wheels dominated from first to seventh place. Jaguar, Porsche, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda competed in the 1,000-kilometer long race and the winner was Jan Lammers’ and John Watson’s Jaguar XJR -8. The high performance and reliability of the BBS wheels were proved.


Having won Nissan’s confidence with the R31 Skyline, BBS Japan worked with Nissan to develop the wheels for the R32GT-R. The Skyline GT-R, which was released after overcoming a rigorous driving test at the Nürburgring in Germany, was equipped with forged BBS wheels for the R32, R33 and R34 models, carrying on from the three second generation GT-R models.

1990s A call from Ferrari
Magnesium forging and the racing scene


Cumulative shipments of one million forged aluminum wheels were achieved. They established themselves as a high-end product with high quality and high performance, and opened a new market for automobile wheels. In such circumstances, the company developed a magnesium one-piece wheel with an RG-type design, and the head of Technology Division visited Ferrari personally with a sample. After returning to Japan, a request was received for a 16-inch wheel for the Testarossa, but the companies could not agree on the cost and Ferrari did not adopt it.
However, knowing now about BBS’ technology, Ferrari approached BBS to develop wheels for its F1 cars.


BBS developed a forged magnesium wheel for use in F1 (a world first). Having received a request from the Ferrari F1 Team conditional on “a 10% weight reduction compared to magnesium cast wheels,” BBS succeeded in reducing the weight by 20%.
BBS concluded the contract after receiving an unprecedented request for a three-year contract term. Subsequently, Ferrari won eight Constructors’ Championships and six Drivers’ Championships over the next ten years. Thanks to the success of the F1 wheels, BBS expanded OEM supply to Japanese automakers including Toyota, Nissan and Mazda. OEM supply to foreign automakers in the United Kingdom and other countries also began, laying the foundations for today’s development.


BBS, which began supplying various teams in the DTM and INDY 500 categories with forged magnesium racing wheels that are lighter and more rigid than aluminum, succeeded as a result in raising the fighting power of racing cars. The company built a structure responsive to needs for the highest performance racing wheels in wider racing fields around the world.


BBS introduced equipment to process forging dies and started on internal die production. Becoming able to design and manufacture forging dies internally, when we were previously dependent on outside sources, enabled the company to control the process from development to production more ideally.
BBS launched the enhanced strength “SUPER-RS,” using the “LM” two-piece forged aluminum wheel based on the wheel used in the “Le Mans 24-hour endurance race” and the RS design as is and making a two-piece rim.

Started supplying racing wheels for major races in Japan and abroad including the German Touring Car Championship (DTM), 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race, Super GT, and Super Formula.
Michael Schumacher wins his first F1™ World Champion driving for the Benetton team equipped with BBS forged magnesium wheels.


Porsche developed the 911 GT1 based on the 993 model of its 911. Equipped with BBS wheels, the GT1 took second and third place overall at the Le Mans 24-hour race that year. In 1998, Porsche defeated Toyota and achieved a one-two finish.

2000s The age of forged magnesium wheels for road cars
Bringing racing technology to the people


At that time, BBS magnesium wheels were regarded highly by F1 teams and the company supplied wheels to about half of the teams. Among them, Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, which used BBS wheels, won the championship for five consecutive years from 2000 to 2004, demonstrating overwhelming strength.


BBS started sales of the “RE-Mg” one-piece wheel incorporating forged magnesium wheel technology developed for F1. The commercialization of magnesium was thought to be difficult because it corrodes easily, but BBS overcame this through the development of a special film coating. However, because attention had to be paid to damage to the film coating, these wheels were sold at limited dealerships.

Won the Podio Ferrari Award for BBS, the Ferrari Innovation Award.


Porsche, which had withdrawn from Le Mans 24-hour race activities in 1998, developed the 911 GT3R (996) for the support of privateers and sold it to teams around the world with BBS wheels fitted as standard. Starting with Team Taisan’s victory in the LM-GT class of the Le Mans 24-hour on debut in 2000, the car won in its class at all events it participated in, including the Daytona 24-hour race in 2003, while evolving into the 911 GT3RSR on the way, proving the performance of the BBS wheels that supported its speed and durability.


In response to growing demand in the market for large-diameter wheels, the company increased the number of its 9,000-ton forging presses, the largest at the time, to mass-produce 22-inch wheels.

2010s Towards further innovation
Stronger, more flexible and beautiful


The supply of forged magnesium racing wheels for F1 continued and the company supplied numerous constructors.


BBS developed the forged extra-super duralumin wheel. The company started sales of “RI-D,” the world’s first extra-super duralumin wheel after clearing the severe challenges of strict heat management and uniformity of the materials. The material innovation that had been brought forward step by step with forged aluminum and forged magnesium advanced to a new stage.


Company names unified to BBS Japan Co., Ltd.


Porsche developed the “919 Hybrid” and the “911 RSR” in compliance with the new WEC regulations, and returned to the Le Mans 24-hour race with a works framework. The two new symbols driving Porsche’s later motorsport activities were fitted with BBS wheels of the same design, and the technology and BBS forged wheels cultivated in this motorsport were also adopted for the Weissach Package of its current fastest car, the GT2RS.

Launched BBS JAPAN TANZO CLUB, a BBS Members Club.


Thirteen years on from launch of the “RE-Mg” magnesium wheel, BBS released the “FZ-MG,” with an improved corrosion resistant film coating. This wheel can be sold at any store even though it is one-piece forged magnesium product.

Started mass production of forged magnesium wheels.
World's first forged magnesium F-1™ racing wheels achieved by BBS.Coating performance enhanced using BBS's own heat treatment without compromising material strength and fatigue strength. Mass production successfully started.


May 28. In the 44th Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race held in Germany, a Mercedes-AMG GT3 (SP9 Class) equipped with BBS forged racing wheels won overall victory. All of the cars from first to sixth were equipped with BBS forged racing wheels.


BBS completed a coating plant of 16,500 m2 in Yokkaichi, Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture in pursuit of further quality improvements. The company installed a 12,000 ton forging press at the Head Office Factory. This enabled mass production of 24-inch class wheels, creating an environment for new challenges.


50th anniversary of the BBS brand.
Action for the Future
The challenge continues.