It’s Throwback Thursday Time!
What do you know about the history of the hubcap and wheel covers? You may be asking… aren’t they the same thing? Well, the answer is “no”.
How and why did hubcaps come into existence?
Autos were made with wooden spokes like a wagon wheel. The wooden spokes connected the outer steel rim to the center hub. The hub contained the wheel bearing and it was packed with grease. Something was needed to cover the center hub which could keep the dust out and the grease in. Thus the hubcap was born.
Unfortunately, when exposed to the elements, the spokes would quickly age and crack. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the wooden spokes were replaced with steel wire-spoke tires, which still needed to be protected. The newer hubcaps became larger and stamped with the auto manufacturer’s name in brass or stainless steel. These hubcaps were hard to keep clean and made an annoying wind noise as the cars would go down the street. More changes were needed.
Introduction of the Wheel Cover
In 1934, Cadillac fitted its new model with a stainless steel disc that covered most of the wheel and hence the name wheel cover started to be used. Growing up in Iowa we always called them hubcaps. I had no idea they were really wheel covers!
Cadillac owners soon realized that their hubcaps were very much in demand, when they got into their cars and realized that their hubcaps/wheel covers had been stolen; known as “hub capping”. A sad state of affairs in the forties and fifties.
A very popular 1950s style of wheel cover was the Sombrero. It was a heavy chromed cover made by Cadillac. Another popular style was The Moon hubcap, which became popular in the fifties, is often considered a racing hubcap.