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Hot Rods Little Pages circa '57-'62; popular rod steering wheels were?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by F&J, Sep 14, 2015.

  1. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    Any little book collectors out there that can ID some years and makes of the popular steering wheels around 1957 to 1962, that you have seen in those old builds?

    Something that would look OK with a 1940 Ford dash in a hot rod?

    all I have IDed so far as being popular, was the plain 56 Ford car wheel with the small center horn button.
     
  2. bowie
    Joined: Jul 27, 2011
    Posts: 2,807

    bowie
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    '59 Impala wheels were always cool. As of early 1961 black or white Covico's came on the market ; and by late 1961 yellow,red , and some metallic or metalflakes came out from them. A Bell or Cragar slot and dot are also goodies.
     
    Model T1 likes this.
  3. They liked the 59-60 Olds wheel in a lot of cars. Buick may be similar.
     
  4. scrap metal 48
    Joined: Sep 6, 2009
    Posts: 6,075

    scrap metal 48
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    Nothing looks better than a 40 deluxe steering wheel in front of a 40 dash....
     

  5. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    '57 ford were very popular.
     
  6. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    The old accepted stuff then was '40 Ford or one of the many Cragar type race car wheels, available in many diameters, with and without holes, etc.
    New and trendy stuff was Corvette, which was a nice clean take on the general Cragar theme, and current Impala wheels (very stylish, but how wide were those things??!?) and other barge wheels, like Buick and Olds.
    With drastic column shortening the '60 Olds wheels made show car types happy.
    The early dished Ford wheels like about 1956 allowed a cleaner and smaller diameter modern update.
     
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  7. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
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    Thanks for the replies so far. I just got the car out of storage for over two years, and looking at it...the flat 2 spoke 41-48 chevy wheel looks so wrong to me, because I started getting interested in rods in the late 50s. I seem to be hooked on the old Autorama cars that used newer parts.

    Last week, I did try to find a early Corvette wheel on ebay to see what they looked like, or a diameter? I don't mind cutting the column one more time to get something that looks right to me....but I never studied steering wheels back then, and can't even recall what my first late 50s fullfender rod had! I think it was dished :eek:
     
  8. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    Frank, I'll add some period pics later.
     
  9. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    Another popular period wheel, a little more upscale, was '58-'60 T-bird. I have a T-bird wheel for my '39. I'll try to find a couple period hot rods with t-bird wheels as well, they had a real cool horn ring that goes under the wheel spokes.
     
  10. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    I tried the wheel from another rod which was IDed on hamb as a 56 Ford wheel. It's bigger diameter compared to the 17" 41-48 Chev wheel. A bigger wheel than 17 puts my knuckles too close to the door, and I can't relocate the column.

    I think the early Corvette was 17, so I might have to go with that. Any pics of those on a rod?
    What cars had a smaller wheel, close to those years?
     
  11. Bruce has it nailed here. Mostly stock wheels unless you went with one of the most popular racing wheels.

    I have always been partial to Cal Custom wheels but I am not sure when they actually came about. I never cared for the foam wheels but I think that they are really a '70s deal anyway.

    I think someone a little older then me may remember when Cal Custom wheels became popular, but like Bruce mentioned stock wheels from various cars were popular, and '56 Ford wheels seemed to be the real deal for a more modern smaller diameter wheel. I think a lot depended on the theme of the car too.
     
  12. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
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    I was surprised on how much bigger the 56 Ford wheel was when I tried it last night. I am tight for space and trying to find a smaller wheel.

    How about this one?
    [​IMG]
     
    Hot Rod Dirty's and kiwijeff like this.
  13. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    Pretty sure '56 through '58 ford are all the same basic wheel. Just horn ring variations. Those '56/'58 Ford wheels out-numbered aftermarket wheels in hot rods by about 100-1 in the late fifties, not even sure the typical aftermarket steering wheel like a Cragar even existed until the sixties? I can check some ads and catalogs. I was rounding up ones to post last night, there were quite a few of the Olds wheels in the early sixties as well, but mostly in real flash show cars. Frank I can measure my '57 Ford and my '58 t-bird wheel for you, but I think you are right, they are pretty big.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  14. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    I think I'll do a couple of "steering wheels in late fifties hot rods" posts here later today, even if the ford wheel is too big for Frank, it'll be helpful for guys that want to really get that "period" look in a late fifties build. I've always been a big fan of the ford wheel, but sometimes it even surprises ME how often they turn up in cars in late fifties hot rod magazines.
     
    Sancho likes this.
  15. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
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    I was surprised too when someone IDed the 56 Ford cheap version wheel on my 59-60 built channeled Chev rpu from Boston area, and then saw a Model A channeled roadster survivor from Chicago that had the same wheel...and both cars were early Olds Rocket power.
    And both cars used just the cheap small center horn button without a horn ring.
     
  16. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    Barris put one in the Ala-Kart, but even before the Ala-Kart was in Hot Rod, they were in a LOT of cars. I think they were neck and neck with the '40 wheel, the #1 choice for the guys who were after a more modern look. Maybe I shouldn't talk about this so much, they aren't really popular these days, and still relatively cheap.
     
    Phillips likes this.
  17. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 27,727

    Jalopy Joker
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    looked through a few little books but, no good info or pics that center on the steering wheels. some books have special stories on modified headlights, etc. maybe someone has a copy with article on steering wheels. a lot of variables on making the decision for a wheel choice. large wheels look Cool but, reason aftermarket and custom smaller wheels are doing good business for those that can afford them.
    for the original question about what would look good in a Hot Rod with a '40 Ford depends on what rest of car looks like - post pics. Moon Eyes, Cal Custom, etc would work for me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2015
  18. Wheels in hot rods were simple as a rule. it was show cars and customs that got the glitzy stuff back then. By the later '50s and earlier '60s the saying among hot rodders at least in Nor Cal about glitzy things was, "That car is all show and no go." :( You spent your money where it counted. Something to bear in mind is that we went through a recession in '53 and '54 then again in '58 and '59. The people who were building rods were either survivors of the depression or being raised by survivors of the depression.

    Anyway some of the things that we find important like snazzy interiors or steering wheels were less important to people who were struggling. Going fast was important and speed costs money. A cheap wheel could mean the difference between racing slicks or tires that were slick from racing. :D
     
  19. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    I have to preface this with the usual qualifier, not telling ANYONE how to build their car, you can put a Lecarra in it if it suits you, yadda, yadda, yadda, but IF you are a stickler for building period-correct cars, like I am, and I know Frank is, and you are doing late fifties, the above are all non-starters. Even the wheels the Moons and Cal Customs are knock-offs of didn't appear in hot rods with any regularity until the early to mid-sixties. I plan to put a Moon wheel in the T-bucket I am accumulating parts for, but that's a circa mid-sixties deal.
     
  20. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    I just measured my Ford steering wheels, the '57 wheel in 17 1/4, the T-Bird wheel is 18":eek:
    This isn't mine, I need a horn ring, and without the horn ring, they just aren't that cool, but here is '58/'60 squarebird wheel. I am putting a bullet in the center of mine, but they are a KILLER looking wheel if you have the space. The t-bird wheel is pretty flash, it wouldn't be right in some cars, but I plan to do my '39 as a pretty flash kinda circa 1960 hot rod like you would see in Car Craft around that time, with some period custom body mods, and some chrome and flash paint and so on, so the wheel fits well with the rest of the theme.
    [​IMG]
     
    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  21. Actually for another disclaimer I have to ad that the little books are not a good barometer, they did not publish common cars they published uncommon cars. If you want to know what was being done on a regular basis you look for old picture albums. Then if you want a good cross section of what was being done you try and find old picture albums from different regions.

    Example I can tell you what I remember from Nor Cal and Oregon in that era, I can even tell you what was happening from one neighborhood in San Francisco and Oakland to the next. I cannot tell you much about So Cal didn't spend much time there and it was distinctly different, can't tell you much about Oklahoma either for that matter.
     
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  22. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    Like I said, if guys don't like what they see here, they can use whatever they want, I just flat don't care. Its none of my business, its all good. I'm just trying to help Frank out with straightforward historical information. Not pissed with you benno (you know that could never happen, ya big lug, hug hug, kiss, kiss) but I expect seeing these photos will be "controversial" with a lot of HAMBers, so Frank, I will pm stuff to you.
     
  23. I was just adding to what you said not disclaiming what you said at all. I really don't know when Cal Custom wheels came about they are just my go to, I have always liked 'em. I am actually torn on my current hopefully soon to be daily (soon being a relative term here) I got a '62 Windsor wheel among the many wheels I have kept and a flat Cal Custom wood wheel. I like 'em both really well and cannot decide.

    Rodding is funny, we forget that we didn't have the web when the little books were written. Most of them were on a tight budget and they seldom left their neighborhood. Ad to that that the guy publishing decided what was cool and what was not and his advertiser had a say in that as well. It has always been a regional hobby, less regional now that we have the web and can converse with other rodders around the world at will but still regional to a point. Even when I was a kid (and you) it could change from one town or neighborhood to the next. Even the lingo changed from one place to the next and one time frame to the next. I laugh inside whenever we talk about dego dropped axles. I did a good portion of my growing up on Portrero Hill in The City on an Italian block. Granted that was several years after Dego dropped axles, but when one got degoed on the hill it meant it got a floating (frenched) grill. Over in the Mission Degoed was freeeenched mang. Difference in build styles difference in language, difference in time.

    I think as preservationists of the tradition we have a lot to take into account. Where the car is, when it is and why it is for example. Its a lot like the primer custom thing. I don't mind a primered custom or even a primered rod, gawd knows I have driven my fair share of primered cars. But when we are thinking '50s historically it had to do with lack of money and primer was better then nothing. it was never the final goal it was driven by necessity. All cars that are ever built should be in a constant state of flux, its '58 and I got enough to primer my car, so it gets primered, later its '62 and I have a better job now its time to paint it. Or now I got the bucks for a 2x4 instead of a single 4 or trips, a 2x4 is more stylish and makes better zot so now it gets an upgrade.

    I think wheels from that era is the same deal, pretty sure you could buy a bell or a craiger just like Bruce remembers, but you don't drive a Lotus on a V dubbya budget do you. So you go to the junk yard and find the coolest wheel that will work and run with it. '40 Fords, '55s or '57s, later in the '60s you could snag an Impala or an olds or even a corvette occasionally. Hell I was still doing that in the later '60s, I need a wheel so I am out at the junk yard, "hay that wheel on the wall is cool how much?" "I'll take 7.50 for it" so its out to the yard and find a '57 Ford wheel to go in my '55 because it'll fit its cool and its 3.00. My granddad used to say that poor people had poor ways :oops:
     
  24. Dave50
    Joined: Mar 7, 2010
    Posts: 1,751

    Dave50
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    FalconGeorge pm the pics to please I w like to see them and gather some knowledge of that error as I'm a young Ladd and wasn't born yet
     
  25. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    I agree 100% on these two things you said. Especially which wheel would be better depending on the REST of the car.

    PC issues so I can't post pics today...but the "rest" of the car is what you'd see in a small town Autorama in late 50s: (full fendered 32 chopped conv) Light flashy color with lots of metallic poly, early Olds Rocket with plenty of glitz/bling, 15" white walls with full wheel covers, white firewall with chromed master, regulator, fuel block, etc; white tuck/roll, white running boards, white convertible top, etc....so you'd almost expect to see a mid/late 1950s dressy steering wheel.

    maybe someday, there will be a thread or magazine showing all the typical steering wheels and what diameters, etc. When I started this thread, I wrongly assumed a 50s wheel would be smaller diameter that my 41-48 Chevy wheel, so now I may not find many wheels that will fit in a tight space problem
    .



    .
     
  26. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    So you are back to work on the '32? :cool:
     
  27. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,222

    F&J
    Member

    Yes, it sat since April 2013 in the dark recesses of the storage area. Brought it into the work bay in July, then never touched it till 2 weeks ago to reprep for paint. Son helped clean out another larger bay next to the car today, so I can paint all the parts at one time...maybe this week. He cleaned out the shop dust with a backpack leaf blower :eek:
     
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  28. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    The '56 ford wheel wont fit in the '32??? I thought the stock wheel was pretty big in those? Way cool you are working on that car again, it deserves to be finished.
     
    Dave50 likes this.
  29. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    Soderstoms '32 3w had a '57 ford wheel in it, one of my favorite '32's of all time. I'll include it in the next batch. Maybe its the length of the column? As a general rule, you need to shorten the column a couple inches to compensate for the dish in the wheel. And you have to splice a later ford steering shaft end on.
     
  30. falcongeorge
    Joined: Aug 26, 2010
    Posts: 18,341

    falcongeorge
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    from BC

    That car just cries out for a '56/'57 Ford wheel IMO.
     

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