Wire Wheels 101

Wire wheels were an option for many makes and models, such as the Ford Thunderbird, Cadillac Eldorado and Buick Skylark, but if you look deeper into the history of automobiles, you’ll find wire-spoke wheels were the direct replacement for wooden-spoke wheels of the early days. As time went on, wheel diameters decreased and wheel widths increased, as auto manufacturers figured out how to make its cars handle better. Compared to modern wheels, the very skinny wire wheels found on a Ford Model A seem way too fragile for everyday use, but the design was actually quite strong, even for the rough roads of the 1920’s and 1930’s.

These days, wire wheels are generally used on classic car restorations, lowriders, and hot rods. For classic car restorations, you’re likely to see a chrome-plated finish, with some sort of decorative center cap that helped identify the car. Generally this style of wire wheel has anywhere from 48 to 56 spokes, depending on the model. Ford T-Bird wire wheels had a lip-laced spoke design, while others, such as the Packard and Chrysler designs feature center-laced spoke in a double cross pattern. Roadster Wire Wheels specializes in authentic wire wheels for collector car restorations. This mainly applies to American cars, which use the four standard lug bolt patterns, rather than European cars that utilize a knock-off hub system.

While Roadster Wire Wheels does not offer any wheels for lowriders, these types of wheels are quickly identified by a large quantity of spokes and a distinct wheel offset that provides the deep-dish look. Many lowrider-style wire wheels are manufactured with a knock-off hub, rather than the conventional lug-mounting configuration. Wheels of this nature could have as many as 150 spokes and often have custom plating options.

Wire wheels for hot rods are another distinct design that stands out from the other wire wheels on the market. Roadster Wire Wheels manufactures Hot Rod Wire wheels, which are available in many sizes, from 14-inch diameters all the way up to 20-inch diameters and widths from 4-1/2 inches to 10 inches. This wide variety of sizes provides street rod builders with plenty of options when it comes to dialing in the stance and matching them with the appropriate tires. Roadster’s Hot Rod Wires are available with four lug bolt patterns (5×4.5, 5×4.75, 5×5 an 5×5.5 inches) and can be treated to powder coating with 12 color options.

Whether you’re looking for authentic wire wheels for your classic car restoration, or the perfect setup for your hot rod, Roadster Wire Wheels has a quality product that is made in the USA. Stainless steel spokes, model-specific hubs and a four-layer chrome plated finish make them the best on the market, and a great warranty backs it up.

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8 Responses to “Wire Wheels 101”

  1. Jim Brady says:

    What do you recommend to protect the inertube from geting punctured on my Roadster wheels on my 1963 Thunderbird?

    • michaelh says:

      Jim,
      If the original lining on your wheels is no longer in a condition that will protect your tube from the spoke nipples, then the most readily available solution is to wrap the drop-center section of the wheel with a vinyl/pvc tape – much like what is generally referred to as electrical tape. If you check your local hardware store, you can likely find a wider than standard size, perhaps 1.5 – 2″, and two to three layers of wrap will work just as well as the original liner, if not better.

  2. marc leverette says:

    can you have the rim powder coated and leave the spokes and hub chrome?

    • michaelh says:

      Marc,
      The short answer is yes, as long as you are referring to the Hot Rod Steel wheel shown in yellow here on our site. We have actually only had a couple of requests for this particular option, and essentially the wheel is ordered as a chrome wheel, with the rim hoop having chrome removed and powder coating added. This does result in additional powder coating fees of course, so it is of upmost importance to ensure that you are ordering the exact correct wheel size and specification for your project. Please let us know what actual wheel size and bolt pattern you will require so that we can begin by confirming stock availability, then we can begin to configure your order, quote a complete package price, and estimate a completion date.

      Thanks for your interest in our products!
      Michael

  3. luis says:

    i’m looking for roadster wire wheels adapters for 5×120

    • michaelh says:

      Luis,

      Thanks for contacting us! Unfortunately, we do not carry any adapters such as the ones you are seeking. You may try a general search online as we do not have a source for this item.

      Let us know if we can do anything else to assist you in the future!

  4. jim pelosi says:

    I have a set of 50 spoke Gatsby wheels in a chevy bolt pattern and I’m looking for thinner fronts. I have 15″x7″ now and would like a pair of 15″X5″. Do you sell them?
    Thanks
    Jim

    • michaelh says:

      Jim,

      Thanks for contacting us. Unfortunately, we do not carry a Gatsby wheel, or supply a 50 spoke wheel at this time. We do carry a line of 56 spoke Chevy style wire wheels in 14×6, 15×6, 15×7, and 16×6 sizing.