Skip to main content

I did a search here and some of the posts were kinda dated and most were for Speedsters...

So, my '06 Subie powered Beck has the 4 bolt Mangels with discs all the way around. I'd love to swap the long axles with short and install wide 5's on the car but it seems that converting the axles is best way to go about it. After getting an estimate, however, it just doesn't make any $$$ sense especially since my car runs and stops just fine.

What are my other options? I was told I could update the rear discs and the entire front setup to 5 bolt and run 4.5's in the rear. This doesn't sound ideal... unless I'm overthinking it. Still not a cheap conversion according to the shop here in SoCal - just under $6k with wheels and tires.

Maybe I need a second quote? Does anyone in the Valley have an experienced shop they'd recommend?

Has anyone seen these on a Spyder?

If so, I'd love to see pics.



Last edited by Matt McNeil
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

@Chris MacDonald just did this recently. He was able to find a custom set of steel rims where the rear wheel centers were moved outward to allow use of long axles without conversion to short axles. So a new front disc wide5 setup and a set of rear drums and he was on the way.

IF you can find a nice pair of steel wheels and IF you can find someone who can move wheel centers, this is the least expensive way to do it.

However, if you can find some short axles AND axle tubes, it's not as big a deal as people think. Then you can use the nice aluminum wheels available from Vintage Motorcars, Mobelwagen, EMPI et al.


Relative to "pushing" the center offset:  Some years ago (maybe 20) I found that there was an offset difference between 4-bolt and wide-five wheels.  Actually, quite a bit of difference.  So on my spyder (a 718, not 550) the wide-five wheels in the front to replace the 4-bolts were offset too wide for the body.

I sent the front wide-fives to: Stockton Wheel

They cut and pushed the wheel centers to my offset specification, which was about a 3/4" push on 4-1/2 wide rims, as I recall.  The cost at the time was not exorbitant.  I don't know if they still provide this service, but this might be an option for you to look into.

And, I may be mistaken but I seem to recall that Special Editions' (Beck) "Mangles" had a custom offset as a matter of their standard production.  You might want to give them a call for possible over-the counter solutions.

Last edited by RS-60 mark

And Matt, just so you know; for ballpark price-check:

Add your wheels, 4-1/2 front & 5-1/2 rear (+ custom offset) & tires.

Maybe, with labor, you can find $6000 in that?  I don't know.  Personally, I would do the installation for myself.  After all it is a "bolt-on".  But keep in mind there is the additional nuance of brake bleeding and E-brake adjustments.

Last edited by RS-60 mark

@RS-60 mark, thanks for the insight...Truth is that I don't even need the full rear brake kit as I already have discs in the rear. According to the shop, they would just swap the rear discs for 5 bolt...

My axels are long so the best I would be able to do is 4.5" all the way around unless I change all of that and we're looking at another chunk of change.

Add $1000 wheels and $600 tires and I still don't see how we're almost at $6k

I thought I'd be able to make it happen for $4500 or less all-in (which is still a bit crazy since I'd be swapping perfectly fine parts out just for looks)

I haven't given up yet but I'm still looking for options. Thanks again!!

Matt --  the wide-five zero offset Empi rotors are roughly $170 each, or less than $700 for all four corners, including a pair of rear axle nut spacers if you need them.  You would need barely more than the mechanical skills to change a tire in order to replace the rotors.  You would need a monkey-big long-handle breaker bar and socket to remove the rear wheel nut, and re-torque the nut onto the new rotor.

BUT, I don't know if the Empi rotors are a compatible fit with your existing calipers and mounts.  It might not be so simple as merely swapping rotors; or, maybe it is.  I just don't know.

I believe that Carey at Beck no longer uses the long rear axle configuration in their Spyders.

I'm pretty sure that the offset between long and short axle is right around an inch. The difference in the bearing housing is the difference, the axle tubes are all the same. Short is 87mm, Long axle bearing housing is 117mm so 30 mm.

Spacers are required if the hub is short and the spline on the axle is long, both are around and common.

As Mark says, you should be able to do this relatively inexpensively. $4500 is a lot, but I guess not out of line if a shop does it. DIY would be a LOT less.

This link should help:,8%20Inches)(%20117%20mm).

The 4-lug Spyders used the 1968 long axle/long spline configuration AFAIK.

Last edited by DannyP

For additional information, when I converted to Wide 5s, I did, in fact buy wheels specially made for long axles. I was fortunate to catch Greg at Vintage cleaning out his storage. He had a set of wheels custom made for a customer who never paid for them.

I had disc on all four and do have disc on all 4 now.

For your information, Carey at Special Edition said I would need new rear disc brakes. In part for the 5x rotors but I believe he also said space. So even with rears, I don't think changing just the rotors in the rear will work.

Also, I reached out to a bunch of wheel shops and absolutely no one would change the offset of wheels for me. The only quote I did get was so ridiculous, he might as well have said no.

Wheels were $1K, brake kit from Carey was ~$2K, tires were $200. Because I couldn't do it myself, it's the labor to change the brakes and rotors over that cost the most. I had a few other things looked at but I would guess it would still put you over $4K.

Still way cheaper than changing the axles

Last edited by Chris MacDonald

Lots of good info above from the guys who know.

Here is a quick breakdown of things for you, probably repeating a lot above.

Changing to wide fives is a spindle out change in the front because 4 lugs use ghia disc brake spindles and you need bug drum brake spindles for the conversion.  AC Industries was working on a wide five conversion for the ghia disc spindle, however I don't know if they ever were successful in that venture.

To use "stock" wheels in the rear you have to either run 4.5" wide rears or change axle lengths to short in order to use stock 5.5" wide wheels.  Other option is custom offset steel wheels or custom made CNC alloy wheels to your spec.

The Vintage 190 (mobelwagon) wheels kinda fit, but not really.  The 5.5" are fine in the rear, but the 4.5" have 11mm more offset than steel wheels of the same width, so they stick out by 11mm more on each side.  It works with some added ride height, but when we know someone is running those wheels we use a narrowed front beam to accommodate, as does Vintage.

I do understand why people don't want to swap the axles. If you've never done it, it's a big deal.

If you have done it before, it's really not hard or a big deal. The hardest part is installing the axles and fulcrum plates if the trans is in the car. If you remove the side gears in the diff to install the new short axles, it's pretty easy. Just unbolting and installing similar parts. I always use sealant on the axle retainers to prevent leaks at the gearbox end. Carefully installing a new outer seal kit prevents leaks on the other end.

A pair of used axles and tubes should be $400-500 or less. Those and a new brake kit with e-brake for a short swing axle should keep the expense down. $560 for a kit from SoCal Imports currently.

The front is the same either way, either just new rotors for what you've got or a complete brake kit. $400 from SoCal Imports for a complete kit.

Mobelwagen wide5 aluminum wheels are currently $180-200 each.

I come up with $2500 for the whole job if you do your own work(except mounting and balancing tires).

Carey and I posted at the same time. In my car I have the Airkewld 4 piston Wilwood calipers in the front. I also have a 2" narrowed beam.

The Airkewld brakes add 3/4" per side and the wheels another 11mm so I end up at stock track width at the end of the day. I do realize that almost all Spyders you encounter in the wild will have a stock beam.

There are a few things to add to Danny's list for a DIY job, and I realize he wasn't providing a complete shopping list,  but you'll also need spindles and the related parts that don't come in the front kit (thrust washers, spindle nuts, dust caps), brake hoses x4, usually a custom adapter piece for the e-brake cables (we make them in house), 21mm master cylinder and  a custom 1" longer push rod OR residual valves for the rear if you try and run the stock Brazil master (it will actually stop the car fine just leaves a very soft pedal feel), e-brake cable need cut to length and new ends swedged on, drum skins to hide the disc brake centers (need trimmed and painted still).

Danny is correct on the axle swap, it's not that big of a deal to do.  If you have the ability to press the cast bearing retainer off and on the axle tubes, then you can just swap those (they use the same length tube with a shorter cast end for short axle), so all you need is the cast end and proper length axles, gasket kit and the "know how".  There are several things that can be screwed up, but they aren't terribly difficult to get right if you know what you're doing.  The fulcrum plates are easy to let drop behind the axle, so you just have to pay attention there, and the paper "gaskets" are actually shims as well, so you need to assemble and check how easily your axle tubes move when torqued (dry) and then add or remove more paper gasket "shims" until you hit the right spot, then disassemble, seal and do final assembly.

Yeah, thanks for that list, it's very complete, Carey.

Carey is 100% on target about the fulcrum plates, and also about the paper gaskets/shims for the proper setup of the axle tube play. You want the axles to be able to move freely, no play and no bind. That's why they include 3 shims per side in the gasket kits.

I prefer to use the one-piece factory style NON-SEAMED boots too. You can get them over the bell end of the axle tube(inside out) WITHOUT pressing the bearing retainer off the axle tubes. They are the only ones that don't leak IMHO. Use a couple pry bars. I wrap my pry bars with tape so there are no sharp edges on the rubber.

Anyway, if anybody needs to do this in the northeast, I can help.

For special tools, you'll need a large 2-arm puller to get the axle tube/bearing to slide off the axle. DON'T attempt to get it off with a hammer. The puller walks it off easily with no damage.

You'll also require a BEEFY pair of snap-ring pliers to remove the snap ring in the differential to pull the axles. I use a cheap pair of those 12" LONG long-nose pliers with the tips ground to a round point like a snap-ring tool.

A 36mm socket and a big wrench to turn it. I bought a 3/4" socket set just for this purpose. That should do it for special tools.

I do use silicone sealant on the axle tube retainers. I use the grey gear-oil resistant type. On the other trans gaskets I use the copper gasket spray. That stuff is an AWESOME invention. Comes right off on disassembly. And seals well.

It's a lot easier to install the axles with the trans on an engine stand, but it CAN be done in the car, I've done it a few times.

Post Content
Link copied to your clipboard.