Piston Slap: A Hot-Rod wheel for a stock Model A?

Ronnie Schreiber

Bobby writes:

I have a stock 1930 model A, nicely restored. I love the wire wheels, but when I want to show it as a hot rod, nobody can tell me if there is any Mag or chrome style wheel that will bolt right up. Looks like an easy five-hole swap to me. So many confusing answers out there. None have really helped. What’s your take on it?

Sajeev answers:

It is indeed an easy swap, as the Model A uses the 5-on-5.5-inch bolt pattern shared with a several generations of the Ford F-series and older Jeeps. The only confusing part of this answer is the sheer volume of wheels available at your disposal. Because of the Model A’s simplistic body/brakes/suspension, most any narrow-width Ford truck wheel (7-inch wide or less) in any offset should both work fine and not visually drown out the Model A’s modest dimensions. A tape measure for offset calculations never hurts, but there’s a lot of wiggle room on a Model A.

One last notion remains, and that’s the matter of taste: if you’re gonna take in another “confusing answer” from the Internet, may I recommend the 15×7-inch alloy wheels from a 1992 Ford Econoline? Of course, I’m kidding … even though I’d roll in a Model A “Chateau” to a car show harder than a Time Out Doll rocks their denim overalls. 

Kieran White / Wikipedia

Fact is, you don’t take the advice from a 1980–90s Ford Collector (with his own advice column) very seriously. Luckily a far more rational member of my team owns a Model A, and he recommended getting Jeep GPW wheels. In his words:

“Personally, we had a few sets of Jeep steel wheels from GPW-era stuff that looked pretty cool, and they’re ‘period correct’ hot-rod style. It’s just a basic steel wheel though … but GPWs are also 5 x 5.5-inches.”  — Kyle Smith 

Kyle is definitely on to something. I would do 16-inch GPW steel wheels, paint-to-match the body, add chrome beauty rings, and finish it off with a beefy set of chrome lug nuts. That’d be sweet—a perfect blend of hot-rod style in my book. Clearly, Kyle did a better job than yours truly, but what’s your take on this question, Hagerty Community? 

Have a question you’d like answered on Piston Slap? Send your queries to pistonslap@hagerty.com, give us as much detail as possible so we can help! Keep in mind this is a weekly column, so if you need an expedited answer, please tell me in your email.

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    Absolutely Agree….you can’t go wrong with painted steel wheels, beauty rings and chrome lugs on anything with wheels…

    I have a set of vintage 16×4 smoothie wheels that came off a 1946 Ford, and with the 40s dog dishes they look great on a Model A.

    I’m jumping on board with Sajeev, Kyle, and other responders here. The steelies with beauty rings look is classic, whether with Baby Moons or chrome lug nuts (combined with chrome bearing caps, IMHO). Wheels painted to match body color or basic black are probably preferable (because that’s most likely what a rodder would’ve had at his disposal back-in-the-day), however, some bolder creative dudes and dudettes put colors to use in eye-catching ways – think checkerboard firewalls for instance – so wheels painted brightly might really set your car apart. Red wheels with the trim mentioned above is an option I really like. 😎

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