Forgiato Forges Ahead
To move their high-profile wheels, Norman and AC Celik sometimes get high.
So high, the cofounding brothers of Forgiato once booked an employee on Delta Airlines with a set of the company’s forged-aluminum wheels to deliver in time for a Texas car show.
Based in Arleta, Calif., Forgiato (“forged” in Italian) manufactures luxury wheels for high-performance vehicles such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Porsche, Mercedes Benz and BMW. These luxury cars elicit admiring looks without Forgiato’s — and coveting stares with them. The Celiks’ American alloy wheels, built in their factory/warehouse to jewel-like specifications, are available in 17 styles, with unlimited finishing choices.
If Forgiato wheels are car jewelry, rich and tasteful accessories to a mobile work of art, this is by design as well as by training. For more than 10 years, AC was a diamond setter and Norman a goldsmith. “Using our jewelry experience, we have been able to create styles and finishes that have never been seen before in the wheel industry,” Norman says. “Our wheels have to be seen to appreciate the drastic curves and fine detail we put into each one. And, when you add to that all the experience we have in actual fitment of wheels, the final Forgiato product is unparalleled.”
In 1993, the brothers entered the business by wholesaling wheels. By 1996 they were importing and customizing wheels and selling directly to new-car dealers and custom-wheel shops. They began D’Vinci in 2002, inspired by the Italian master’s balancing of high art with exacting science.
They began the Forgiato three-piece line in 2005 and sold D’Vinci the following year to offer the Forgiato line to the most extreme luxury- and performance-vehicle owners. “By then,” AC says, “we knew we had found our dream — to combine our love of wheels with our experience in jewelry manufacturing.” Today the company employs 37 people in sales, support and manufacturing.
Diamond Beautiful and Timepiece Precise
Forgiato also calls on the latest technology and advancements in aluminum forging and Computer Numerical Control mills, drills, and lathes to achieve a light, strong and beautiful product. CNC describes the process by which a computer component drives the tooling, allowing for precise cutting and minimal human intervention. “We have combined our knowledge of the art of jewelry manufacturing with technological advancements in CNC automation,” Norman says. “The end result: wheels that look and perform like fine Piaget watches.”
Forgiato’s team connects the three parts of each wheel — the two parts of the rim, the front lip and the inner rim, and the forged 6061t6 heat-treated centers — by means of bolts and rivets, creating an ultra-strong accessory. The “6061” refers to the aerospace grade aluminum Forgiato uses — the same alloy found in jets and advanced aeronautical and weapons systems. The “t6” is the level of hardness the process achieves by using heat.
Forging shapes materials under heat and pressure by a mechanical or hydraulic press — similar to the natural process that creates diamonds, AC explains. This heats but does not melt the alloy materials — preventing impurities or air bubbles to join with the alloy.
As a result, Forgiato’s offer superior surface finishes, for chroming or powder coating, and more strength with less weight. “Less weight equals faster acceleration, superior braking and much better handling,” Norman explains. “The buyer ends up with a wheel that is strong, light, and beautiful.”
Wheels That Harmonize with Great Cars
“We manufacture each of our wheels to the exact specifications our clients desire, such as a replacement of the original wheel or one for an exotic tailored fitment,” AC says. The wheels are, expectedly, priced at the luxury level: They start at $1,250 per and can range to $3,000 per. All-important wheel locks are available from after-market sources.
Most of the wheels are available in five sizes, from 19 inch through 24 inch, in chrome, satin silver, black satin, diamond cut, raw machine, high polish or any custom color. The styles carry Italian names: Alneato, Vizzio, Fia, Grano, Estemo, Tello. “They all have a meaning to us,” Norman says. “They usually relate to what the wheel looks like. I usually look at the wheel and write the first thing it reminds me of, then I translate it to Italian.”
For example, he explains: “Otto” means eighth because the wheel has eight spokes; “Andata” means gone or cannot be seen because the spokes look as though they are not connected. In addition, “Concavo” means concave, as in the shape of the spokes of the wheel, and “Capalovoro,” the newest Forgiato, means masterpiece.
Keeping the Wheels Rolling
With jewelers dedication to expression, performance and reliability, Forgiato doesn’t let just anyone distribute and install their custom wheels. “We like to have direct contact with our customers, to make sure we understand exactly what they want,” Norman says. To achieve this, the company handpicks resellers. One of the brothers visits each of these businesses — throughout the world — to ensure that company can complete the final step of installing the wheels onto the vehicle. To date, there are 48 authorized Forgiato resellers — two in Arizona.
For Forgiato, the road is wide open for more designs and sizes. “We were the first to offer 5.5-inch lips on Mercedes and 6.5-inch lips on BMW— and were, of course, quickly followed,” AC explains.
More and more automakers are installing larger and larger wheels as stock, he adds. A large wheel makes even a great car look better — and sets cars apart in a design environment in which so many look so alike. Says AC: “We are at the extreme high end of this ongoing desire for custom wheels.”