Ever wondered why Mercedes-Benz alloy wheels are called ‘manhole covers’?

ever-wondered-why-mercedes-benz-alloy-wheels-are-called-‘manhole-covers’?

The iconic 15-hole, flat-faced alloy wheels that adorned Mercedes-Benz cars of the 1980s and ’90s are known affectionately as ‘gullideckel’ or manhole covers, because that’s just what they look like.


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Inspiration often comes from the most unlikely of places, and in terms of the iconic Mercedes-Benz alloy wheels which were fitted to W201, W124, W126, R107 and R129 series cars, that inspiration was beneath your feet.

Manhole or drainage covers in Germany take many different shapes and forms, but a consistent theme sees round covers with a series of 15- or 16-holes around the outer edge, often within a concentric ring themselves, just like Bruno Sacco’s elegant wheels.

The faceplate designs are unique to towns and regions and often feature intricate designs on the cast-iron covers.



These wheels first appeared on the W124 E-Class in 1984 and were incorporated onto the facelift W126 S-Class, R107 SL and W201 190E. They were the ‘non-option’ wheel on the R129 SL-Class in 1989 too. Like their street-based namesake, the designs between specific Mercedes-Benz diameter and offset specifications are also slightly different, with even the factory option 15×6-inch wheels and 15×7-inch Sportline wheels on the W201 190E using different radius curvature on the outer holes.

Sadly, Australian manhole covers are pretty boring by comparison, so we’ll need to look elsewhere to nickname any of our iconic rims!

James has been part of the digital publishing landscape in Australia since 2002 and has worked within the automotive industry since 2007. He joined CarAdvice in 2013, left in 2017 to work with BMW and then returned at the end of 2019 to spearhead the content direction of Drive.

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