They’re as important and as fun as any part of your car, so much so that enthusiasts often refer to their rides as their “wheels.” In fact, we are looking forward to the major indoor custom car show coming up Feb 26-28 in Pittsburgh, the Maxmotive World of Wheels. Wheels can enhance and optimize a vehicle’s performance, and do the same for the appearance as well.
”The first modification to my first car – a 1969 Chevelle SS396 – was a set of Cragar S/S “mags” and staggered sized 70 and 60 series white letter tires. (Do you remember the Firestone “Parnelli Jones” tire?) Many of my heroes ran Cragars, such as Dick Landy, Bill Jenkins, Don Prudhomme, and Niagara’s Jim Zakia. The Zakia & Clark Anglia was one of the coolest cars that ran regularly at Niagara, and it was a winner too.
For me, mounting custom wheels on the car turned it into an instant hot rod. It was also a sign to other hot rodders that you were part of the family. The chrome five-spoke design of the S/S elevated the look of any car, and it was available in all kinds of sizes from super narrow for fronts to super huge for drag cars and wild customs. Even top Funny Cars like Prudhomme and McEwen (Snake & Mongoo$e) sported the Cragar S/S – often with manufacturer support. But the S/S had steel rims with aluminum centers, and as such weren’t really much lighter than stock wheels, which at that time were almost always simple steel units. Wheel covers provided the style. At least the mags didn’t need wheel covers. Yet, the Cragar S/S was such an integral part of the hot rod/custom car culture that the same model is still available today, and is a popular choice for classic muscle cars and street rods. Next time, we’ll take a look at developments in Original Equipment wheels, and aftermarket trends. Thanks for reading.