Regardless of what is under the hood, the most important pieces of real estate on your car are the four small pieces of rubber that grip the road. Those few square inches can change everything.
Wire wheels are the modern take on the wood-spoked wheels of motorized carriages. Today, these beauties have become the crown jewel of lowriders around the globe.
History of Wire Wheels
At its most basic, a wire wheel is one where the rims are connected to the hub by a series of wire spokes.
If you’ve seen a bike tire, you know exactly what we are talking about. Obviously, bike tires are not strong enough for cars, but in the early 1900s, everything changed.
In the beginning stages, wire wheels went from a bicycle tire to a motorcycle tire. And from there, they kept developing in design and growing in popularity.
In 1907, John Pugh designed tangentially spoked wheels with two inner rows of spokes that created a foundation that was strong enough for a car. These wheels were developed, patented, and spread like wildfire. Suddenly, wire wheels had a whole new world of application and everyone wanted a piece of the game.
Wire wheels took the automotive industry by storm because they made steering easy and provided a simple way to change tires with easily detachable hubs. Unfortunately, wire wheels were short-lived and were quickly replaced with cheaper pressed steel wheels by the 1920s.
Although steel wheels stole their thunder, wire wheels became the crowned jewel of sports and racing cars. They are still preferred and coveted by automotive enthusiasts.
New versions of wire wheels hit the market all the time, but most maintain the same pattern, style, and look of the original edition.
Pros and Cons
Although wire wheels are perhaps the greatest vestige of the automotive world, they were quickly replaced for a good reason. Using them still comes with their own set of pros and cons worth considering before you make the switch.
- Maintenance – Properly maintained wire wheels look and perform beautifully. However, the wire wheel requires a fair amount of maintenance.The “knock-off” (the big nut that fastens the wheel to the hub), must be kept tight. The spokes get dirty easily and must be tightened occasionally and wheels must be trued to eliminate wobble.
- Performance – The wire is naturally heavier, and the biggest issue is hub wear which happens easily when the wheel is not tight enough. This wear can also wear on the axle’s hub which can be dangerous and expensive.
- Aesthetics – This is one of the biggest reasons why wire wheels are so popular. They are a beautiful, classical, and elegant enhancement.
If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Used wire wheels are often difficult to find because most of the time, there’s a reason why they are for sale.
Occasionally, an enthusiast might need extra cash, but generally, it’s because the wheels are not in great shape.
- Brand – The two most popular brands are Dayton and Dunlop. Dunlop was the original supplier for most British cars, but are now manufactured in India. Dayton is manufactured in the United States, but are more expensive. Other popular brands include Truespoke and OG.
- Painted – This is mostly a matter of personal preference and aesthetics.
- Tubes – Wire wheels are intended to be used with tube tires, but they can be difficult to find. To resolve this you can run tubes inside otherwise tubeless tires, or purchase a tubeless option from Dayton.
Making the Switch
Even if your classic car didn’t come with wire wheels you can make the switch. There are several different ways to convert traditional bolt-on wheels to wire wheels.
What they lack in originality, they make up for in convenience. You can also use a conversion hub which uses the original studs to bolt on a wire wheel. The last option is to convert the hub yourself and replace the disc hub with the splined hub.
Cool Cars Engineering Difference
Despite a hefty list of pros and cons, on the right car, nothing beats a wire wheel.
Even though lowrider wire wheels are synonymous with weight, maintenance and work, they are a staple of another time that are wildly popular. On the right car, a wire wheel setup provides a beautiful finish and a nod to old-car world’s gold standard.
In short, we know what is the best fit for your car. We work with your vision to provide the optimum combination of looks, feel, grip, ride quality, noise control and tire wear.
Wire wheels are a huge part of the sports car and hot rod industry. They do require the same level of maintenance, care, and attention you give any other part of your car, but with regular service and attention, they provide the best in performance and great looks.
If you’re looking to upgrade your wheels, shop with us today and we can provide the parts and expertise you need to set your custom lowrider car or truck in a class of its own.