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History '50 Merc Hub Caps: a small tradition

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 50Fraud, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,680

    50Fraud
    Member

    When Mercury introduced its new body style for 1949, a wheel center was used that had previously served on Lincoln models. The hubcap mounting bumps were on a larger circle than on Ford wheels, so a larger diameter hubcap was needed. The 1949 version was a nearly flat cap with a square shoulder, and lettering on a raised ring around the edge of the face that read "MERCURY EIGHT".

    For 1950, the raised ring and lettering were deleted, resulting in a smooth, slightly convex surface with no decoration. Mercury ads showed these in combination with a trim ring covering most of the painted wheel, but perhaps the trim rings were an extra-cost option:

    [​IMG]

    Looking at Hop Up magazines from the early '50s, it's apparent that the 1950 hubcaps (and, necessarily, the matching steel wheels) were picked up by some hot rod & custom builders. Not a surprise, as the Merc caps' lack of ornament was consistent with the simplification favored by customizers of the day:

    Valley Custom used the stock cap & trim ring with whitewalls on a hardtopped '49 Merc:
    [​IMG]

    Chet Herbert used the caps, again with rings and whitewalls, on his iconic Deuce 4-door: [​IMG]

    ...and '53 AMBR winner Dick Williams used them, apparently for the first time on chrome reversed wheels, with blackwalls on his T:
    [​IMG]

    Over the years many other luminaries have used them, including Ivo:
    [​IMG]

    Brizio, Falk, and other contemporary builders have used them on chrome wheels, usually reversed in the rear, with WWs:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While I was deciding about stuff to use on my '40 (you didn't think I'd do one of these designy threads without slipping in something of my own, did you?), I thought that the Brizio-style combination was the cleanest and most elegant of the traditional wheel treatments, so I shamelessly copied it on my own car:

    [​IMG]

    There's really no point to this thread other than to show off this simple combination of wheels & tires, an alternative to paint or full wheel covers, that has been around for more than 60 years.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  2. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,680

    50Fraud
    Member

    I forgot to add that cherry original '50 Merc caps are hen's teeth, but Wheelkid sells repop ones that are quite nice. Now you only need to find the correct wheels!
     
  3. Aussiepete.
    Joined: Oct 30, 2012
    Posts: 58

    Aussiepete.
    Member
    from Kathmandu

    Thankyou for sharing , I'm a fan of mercury dress rim too. WOW they look awesome on the cars in your thread.
     
  4. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 4,491

    BrerHair
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Thanks Tony. My 20 year old son and I have been going to school lately with all your great wheel cover threads.
     

  5. I've had a set of rough originals for years that I thought of restoring and using on my '36, w/ Merc wheels, but now i see repops everywhere!
     
  6. hershambob
    Joined: Sep 18, 2005
    Posts: 1,316

    hershambob
    Member

    I have a set of the trim rings but only one cap,whats a set of rings go for,
     
  7. alchemy
    Joined: Sep 27, 2002
    Posts: 15,861

    alchemy
    Member

    I'm a big fan, of the Merc wheels/caps, as well as your coupvertable.
     
  8. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,680

    50Fraud
    Member

    This thread attracted painfully little attention, but I have an afterthought I'd like to add. While the '50 Merc caps have been admired and used on hot rods and customs for many years, the '49 and '51 caps which fit the same wheels are universally unloved.

    Here they are in their original applications:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The simple explanation is that customizing has traditionally favored minimal ornamentation, but that's not generally true about hubcaps. Fiestas, Lancers, and other caps with lots of detail have been favorites over the years.

    For some reason, though, the 49 and 51 Mercs have almost never been used on rods or customs. Funny how we are, huh?
     
  9. slosteve
    Joined: Oct 30, 2008
    Posts: 48

    slosteve
    Member

    I've been running them on my peekup for 12 years.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,680

    50Fraud
    Member

    Nice truck, good choice of caps & wheels!
     
  11. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    pasadenahotrod
    Member
    from Texas

    My friend uses 88-92 or so Ford Police Car/Taxi wheels I found for him at our local Pick-a-Part, on his 32 3W Coupe hotrod.
    They have a larger hubcap (3/4 cap) very similar to those early Merc caps but have a Ford oval in the center in a ring. Knowing Ford's proclivity for continueing designs and shapes over decades I wonder if they interchange on the early wheels too.
    The new caps are still available from your local Ford dealer in polished stainless and are quite nice.
    Damn, I can't believe this may be true. Somebody verify it, please!
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  12. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,025

    Paul
    Editor

    I have six or eight original wheels but all the repop caps I've tried are too loose to stay on..?
     
  13. Great thread, good looking caps.
     
  14. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    pasadenahotrod
    Member
    from Texas

    Visit a local junkyard and see if they have any of those police/taxi hubcaps and try one on a your old wheels, I gots to know!
     
  15. Those are my favorite caps. They look so nice on chrome reverse wheels.
     
  16. NealinCA
    Joined: Dec 12, 2001
    Posts: 2,882

    NealinCA
    Member

    Hey Tony, I missed this the first time around. 50 Merc wheels and caps are among my favorites. I am putting a set together for a project. I will post up some pics when I get them done.

    BTW, your 40 is looking great...and thanks for hauling my sons wheels up to Don's.

    Neal
     
  17. Baron
    Joined: Aug 13, 2004
    Posts: 3,497

    Baron
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I made a jig up years ago to weld tabs on newer wheels( Vintique, etc) so they would accept the Merc caps. Always liked the look ( and early Merc wheels were hard to find 25 years ago)

    Paul O's channeled 5W/Merc caps on chrome reverse.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. NealinCA
    Joined: Dec 12, 2001
    Posts: 2,882

    NealinCA
    Member

    My old 32 drag car has 50 Lincoln wheels on the back (wider than Merc wheels) with 50 Merc caps...

    [​IMG]
     
  19. When I was looking at buying reproduction Merc caps a few years ago I had gathered several correct rims to mount them on.

    When ordering I was asked if I wanted the chrome plated steel reproduction for the later Ford rim 10 1/8" diameter? I had to specify I wanted the 10 3\4" Mercury reproduction to fit Mercury rims, which were only reproduced in polished stainless steel. So there is a plated steel version of these out there that is being made to fit the later, much more common, Ford rims for 1\2 ton pick-ups and vans.

    The caps I got were United Pacific, but I'm sure if you contact Wheel Vintiques Inc. They'd be able to help you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  20. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,025

    Paul
    Editor

    good tip, I'll give it a try
     
  21. Nothing works better than a picture, so here is what you look for when shopping for Merc or Lincoln rims.

    1. The base of the raised hubcap ring measures 10 3/4" on the Mercury rim. (photo1)

    2. The outer rim has a unique shape to the inside. (photo 2)

    3. The wheel center is riveted to the outside rim. (photo 3)

    Photo 4 is a later hub cap inside an original `50 Mercury cap.


    IMAG0523b.jpg IMAG0526b.jpg

    IMAG0527b.jpg IMAG0528b.jpg
     
    LSGUN likes this.
  22. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,025

    Paul
    Editor

    and here is a picture of a pair of '50 Lincoln wheels I reversed,
    notice the little tits on the inside of the rim near the bead area for retaining the full wheel cover

    you can just see them on the now inside of the near wheel

    [​IMG]
     
  23. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 6,922

    19Fordy
    Member

    Did anyone mention that 49-51 Merc wheels are 15 x 5 1/2 in. for a total width of 6 1/2 inches outside edge to outside edge and 49-51 Lincoln wheels are 15 x 6 in. for a total width of 7 inches outside edge to outside edge? Both have the 5 1/2 in bolt pattern and a 3 5/8 in. dia. center hole.
     
  24. 302GMC
    Joined: Dec 15, 2005
    Posts: 6,262

    302GMC
    Member
    from Idaho

    Another variety of the '49-'51 Merc wheel we run into fairly often is the addition of 3 ea. quarter inch stovebolts or welds to the outer part of the bolt circle so '40-'48 Ford caps fit ... upon close inspection, many magazine cars ran this setup, especially after chrome wheels became affordable.
     
  25. Neat thread, if anyone has some Merc wheels for sale please PM me I have one and I am looking for three more.

    Thanks
     
  26. Baron
    Joined: Aug 13, 2004
    Posts: 3,497

    Baron
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Here are a set of Ford wheels I did with my hubcap jig. I found the best way for me to do them was to use small freeze out plugs cut in 1/2, and weld three halves to each wheel. Cheap, quick and simple.
    [​IMG]
     
  27. 50Fraud
    Joined: May 6, 2001
    Posts: 9,680

    50Fraud
    Member

    So this allows you to use real Merc caps without needing to have Merc wheels? That's very neat.
     
  28. Chuck R
    Joined: Dec 23, 2001
    Posts: 1,346

    Chuck R
    Member

    I'll play, here is our 40, a standard.
    chuck
    [​IMG]
     
  29. johnnydiamond
    Joined: Sep 17, 2013
    Posts: 13

    johnnydiamond

    Great thread! I recently purchased this 36' sight unseen from a gentleman in Alabama. It was a build from the late 50's, 56' 265 Chevy Power Pac motor mated to original tran, juice brakes, dual spots and custom interior. When I asked about the wheels and tires he said later 15's with some old hubcaps in the trunk. I got it home to find they were 50' Mercs, I love the look, fits the car to a T. This is the day I unloaded it off the trailer, spots are in the trunk and I have since put a new set of wide whites on her but I don't plan on changing anything on the car.
     

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  30. 1955IHC
    Joined: Aug 20, 2013
    Posts: 636

    1955IHC
    Member

     

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