Borrani has a reputation of being the “Gold Standard” of wire wheels. Our rims are known for their reliability and elegance but where did this come from? Rudge Whitworth Milano was established in Milan, Italy on April 22, 1922. The owner, Carlo Borrani was born in Napa City, CA in 1887. His family had emigrated to the U.S. looking for a better life. Just after WWI he met his future partner Ettore Ambrosetti.
Carlo saw the automotive industry rapidly expanding and proposed to Ettore a new and exciting business venture that would take him back to his European home. This was the beginning of the remarkable Borrani wire wheel story. Carlo purchased the Rudge Witworth license from Coventry, Great Britain. Whitworth had registered a patent for mounting a wheel on a hub by a unique splined drum fixed by one center lock nut. Borrani bought this license and set up shop in Milan, Italy. The company then called Rudge Withworth was focused on wheels for cars, motorbikes and cycles. The success was immediate, the lightness and fast mounting of the wheels aroused the interest from the most important race car designers. Within the first year of business Alfa Romeo, Auto Union, Bianchi, Isotta Franschini, Itala, Fiat and Lancia all started to equip their racing and luxury road cars with Borrani wheels.
Borrani never went to a race, personally drove a car or even applied for a driver license as he was convinced he would be too distracted to be able to sit behind a steering wheel.
The association with Enzo Ferrari started during the 1924 “Coppa Acerbo” when Enzo achieved one of the best results of his racing career. He had an Alfa Romeo equipped with Rudge Whitworth wheels. From that point on Ferrari always used Borrani wheels for his “Scuderia Ferrari” while racing Alfas, motorcycles and later with his own production vehicles – Ferrari.
In the early 1930s Borrani started to experiment with light, rigid aluminum rims to replace the usual steel wheels, reducing the rotating mass and obtaining perfect rim roundness these wheels were called “DD” and the basis of them remains to this day the main characteristic of all Borrani wheel.
In 1937 Carlo Borrani pasted away and his son Cesare, a young engineer, took over the company. At the beginning of 1939 he was forced by the Italian government to modify the company name from Rudge Whitworth to a more Italian sounding name. So in memory of his father who started the company he renamed it Carlo Borrani S.A. Then again in 1924 during WWII to Carlo Borrani S.p.A.
Borrani branched out into other industries including aviation. Until 1943 Borrani designed brake and hydraulic control systems, shocks, fuel pumps and of course wheels. This was directed by a branch of the company based in Rome, Italy called Sezione Avio. The company icon was the traditional Borrani hand logo with the addition of a pair of wings.
The post war period for Borrani was a roaring success, serving
such famous manufactures as Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo,
Aston Martin and later in the 1960s Lamborghini and Ford
(for their famous GT40) plus many others in the racing field and for road cars.
By 1955 production volumes were increasing and by 1961 Borrani’s production numbers were at 1,500 car and 5,000 motorcycle wheels per month. A new location was found and the name changed to Ruote Borrani.
The late 1960’s and early 1970’s for Borrani was a period of great change. The automotive manufacturers began to equip their cars with the new style of cast alloy wheels, a change that had occurred in racing circles about 10 years earlier. This new “fashion” indicated the fading popularity of wire wheels for cars. Motorcycle wheel production however was running at over 15,000 pieces per month. All the main motorcycle brands used the Borrani “RM Record” wheels such as BSA, MV Augsta, Guzzi, Harley Davidson, Gilera, etc.
The 1980’s and 1990’s found production at this all-time low. The company was mainly serving its clients that were in need of replacements or restoration of original wheels.
From 2004, Ruote Borrani has been operating from the south side of Milan. Production has steadily increased and a new line of rims was introduced in 2010. Borrani is also reaching out to establish themselves internationally. Borrani Americas was established in 2010 as the exclusive importer and restorer of rims to North and South America.
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