I would appreciate general comments, experiences and recommendations on 2-piece welded wheels. Saw some nice Campi look-alikes from a well known Pantera vendor.
I have had them on my car for the last 20 years with no issues.
Are there any comments regarding the strength of the wheels. Do wheels in the U.S.need D.O.T. approval? I'm worried they will fly apart under hard driving conditions. I normally drive in excess of100 mph on the Autobahn.
It is a fairly common fabrication method and most of the Pantera vendors are sourcing wheels from reputable wheel manufacturers inside the US, I don't see why it would be an issue, but to answer your question no aftermarket wheels are not DOT certified in the US.
Three piece wheels are very light, being friction-spun on a big lathe; the inner and outer rim halves are only 0.040" (1.0 mm)-or so thick. Most are made exclusively for racing and yes- they DO occasionally fail, both on racers and the street. The alloys and heat treats used are unknown but the ones I'm sort-of familiar with have proven not weld-repairable. You should simply replace any damaged rim-half. The problem is, fabricators or shops that make such rims often do not last very long, so after they depart the scene, sourcing replacements is extremely expensive. It entails finding a shop that can duplicate your damaged rim-half as a one-off part. One such shop in CA does this and their rim-halves WILL be stamped 'FOR RACING ONLY', with zero guarantees.
Race cars that use such things often weigh at most 1800-2000 lbs; a street Pantera weights 3500, or 75% more. Giant sticky tires and public road bumps only make things worse IMHO. In addition, a popular 3 piece wheel- Centerline- is designed for drag racing, not high-load cornering. So with these wheels on a street car, the centers sometimes fatigue-crack around the bolt circles. The highest loaded part of a street driven Pantera suspension has proven to be circumferentially at the rear inner rim-halfs right at the point where the tire bead contacts the rim. Explosive deflation occurs. See attached photo-
I have seen cracks up to 18" long. Periodic visual inspection is prudent, as is the torque of any fastening bolts.
Basically the message is, if possible stick to one piece forged rims.
Here in Europe, wheels need to be certified. That means they go through destructive testing before receiving approval for road use. I hate over-regulation, but somehow, it would give me a good feeling to know that my certified rims probably vwon‘t self-destruct while I‘m on the autobahn.