Restorative justice is forcing a criminal to apologize to his victim. And I am in the dock again, with prosecutor Chilton accusing me of kerbing without due care and attention. His memory is much longer than he is, because this rap dates back to a nibbled alloy on his long-gone MX-5. The day he got it, the latest case involves my 335i, whose 19 inch wheels resemble Swiss cheese with specks of black mould. So I am bundled off to Pristine Alloy Wheels in Bedfordshire, to get them refurbished and learn the error of my ways. The firm’s MD, David James, directs my patience. The 67 year old golf nut (the game, not the car- he drives Aston Martin) began alloy wheel repairs in the late 80’s. He noticed customers at his Fred the Tread tyreshop had crumbling alloys, with corrosion in once hot brake dust or a kerbside skirmish breached the protective lacquer. So James branched out into the wheel refurbishment and, two decades on, has 60 staff and 400 agents nationwide feeding in work. Door to door, the process takes three years to four days. As soon as I arrive, the 335 is inspected. One of the rims is badly gouged, and will need an aluminum weld to build it back up.
It will then follow the other three alloys onto a computerized lathe, where a diamond cutter slices off threads of aluminium like strands of silver hair, until the rim is back to its original profile. First the rims are prepared, shot-blast and doused in chemicals, to remove grime or corrosion. After brushing, they are machined on lathe, and then cleansed in demineralised water. The wheel is then pre-heated to dry it and to remove any internal gases. My repair cost $352 before VAT and the $465 rims look as good as new again.