If you are looking for better traction for your E55 you have come to the right place! The hot ticket for cutting your 60′ times is a set of Hoosier DOT Drag Radials mounted to OEM Mercedes CLK320 wheels.
What You’ll Need
Follow these links to purchase the items needed for this project:
- Two OEM Mercedes CLK320 Wheels (Part Number: A 208 401 00 02)
- Two Hoosier DOT Drag Radials – 255/50-16
- Mounting Hardware
- 15mm Wheel Spacers and Wheel Stud Kit and Red Loctite
- – OR –
- 15mm Wheel Spacers (with longer bolts)
- 14mm Drill Bit
The factory Mercedes-Benz wheels from a 1998-2002 CLK320 are perfect for your E55 for several reasons. First, they are 16″ wheels (7×16 ET37), which is the smallest you can fit over the factory AMG brakes (but you do need spacers). Small wheel diameter is good in drag racing because taller sidewalls are very forgiving and allow the tire to “bite” the track better when you launch. If you keep the tire diameter the same (26″ for the E55) but go from an 18″ rim to a 16″ rim, you have added 1″ of sidewall to your tire.
The CLK has 12mm wheel bolts, but your E55 has 14mm bolts (or studs if you upgrade), so you will need to drill the bolt holes using a 14mm drill bit. It’s an easy job since you’re not taking off too much material and aluminum drills easily.
These wheels are forged, not cast, so they are incredibly strong and very lightweight. Each wheel weighs about 14 lb. on its own, or about 38 lb. with the tire mounted. That’s a huge savings over the 50+ lb. of a stock AMG rim and tire.
Fun Fact: The forged CLK wheels are also popular with the Volkswagen Bus crowd.
Mercedes’ part number for these wheels is A 208 401 00 02 and there are several ways you can find them. You could browse the various Mercedes forums, or do an eBay search for that part number, but you are likely to find a better deal by going to car-part.com. On car-part.com you will need to search by year, make, and model, and then browse the list of results. It may take some time, but you should be able to find a few listings that show images of the wheels. You should be able to find some for less than $150 each. Just beware that the CLK also came with a cast wheel the same size, also described as a “7 spoke road wheel”, but you don’t want that one! Make sure to verify with pictures or the part number that your’e getting the forged wheels.
The Hoosier DOT Drag Radial in the size 255/50-16 is the perfect tire for this setup. You can also get a Mickey Thompson ET Street S/S tire in this size, but I’m a die-hard Hoosier fan so that’s all I run. The Mickey Thompson weighs 6-1/2 lb more per tire, but they are safer for street driving. If you only run drag radials at the track, go with the Hoosiers. If you leave them on for street driving, consider the Mickey Thompsons.
Shopping for the Hoosiers can be a little confusing if you’re not paying attention. First of all, they recently changed the tread pattern on the tire and started referring to them as “DR2’s”. The old style was known simply as the “DOT Drag Radial”, and the only “tread” it had were two grooves running around the entire circumference of the tire. The new style are still known as “DOT Drag Radials”, but they also refer to them as “DR2”, and the tread now consists of several “dotted lines” around the circumference, spaced in a staggered fashion. Another confusing detail is that Hoosier offers a bias-ply tire that is DOT approved and they call it the “Quick Time Pro D.O.T”. Make sure you are getting the right tire when ordering.
These wheels will clear the brakes on the rear of your AMG, but not without the help of a 15mm spacer, and even then the calipers are only about 2mm clear of the barrel. I ran 20mm spacers for a while to give a little more room, but they cause the tire to rub on the fender just a little bit during hard launches.
You have a couple choices when it comes to hardware. I use a simple 15mm, hub-centric spacer that requires longer wheel bolts or studs. If you go to the track often like I do, you may prefer studs since they can be a little easier to get the wheels on. Studs make it very easy to slide on the spacer and then hang the wheel without it falling off when you’re changing tires in the pits, plus they look really cool on your street wheels. It gives a subtle hint to those “in the know” that you mean business. 😉
As you would expect, this setup will dramatically reduce your 60′ times at the track. When my E55 was stock, running on the OEM wheels and street tires, my average 60′ time was 2.01 s, with a standard deviation of .099 s. After switching to the Hoosiers, my average 60′ dropped by .20 s to 1.81 s. More importantly (for bracket racing anyway), was that the standard deviation dropped from .099 s to .044 s, meaning they are WAY more consistent off the line than street tires. (Duh!)