When Ford released the Mustang in 1964 ½, significantly more novel than the car itself was the accompanying concept of individualization. In modern times, nearly every new car offers an ample selection of options available to buyers who wish to custom tailor their purchase. However, before the Mustang, these choices were far more limited from the factory and aftermarket. Especially restrictive were alternatives to the factory-supplied wheels and wheel covers. In 1955, a man named Roy Richter purchased the Cragar corporation which had been known, among other business ventures, as a Ford Model A part supplier. Richter recognized that amidst the burgeoning hot-rodding market, there was a strong desire for customization – particularly for wheels – but that enthusiasts only had factory supplied parts to choose from.
Richter sprung at this market vacancy with a goal of producing a unique looking wheel that did not sacrifice performance but enhanced it. So in 1964, just as the Mustang became the harbinger of factory individualization, Cragar debuted their specialized S/S (Super Sport) wheel to the aftermarket hot rodding community. Designed and rigorously tested during the previous two years, the S/S wheel featured an unmistakable five-spoke chrome style that provided substantial performance benefits. Each spoke, as it enclosed in the center, became deeper, which endowed the S/S a bespoke style and exceptional high-speed stability.
The success of their design was proven on race tracks the following year when Cragar S/S wheels became the benchmark in the National Hot Rodding Association, International Hot Rodding Association, and American Hot Rodding Association series. During the 1960s, motorsports were where automotive marketing endeavors mattered most and when drag racers chose Cragar, so too did muscle and sports car street racers – effectively earning them the “King of the Road” nickname. Today, Cragar S/S has inspired dozens of imitators but muscle car owners and hot rodders looking for period-correct authenticity, improved performance and a distinctive style all prefer the original.
Christopher Fussner is the Editor-in-Chief here at WOB Cars and MotoringHistory.com. He writes at his home in Los Angeles, manages a car collection, has a genuine passion for cars and racing, a love of Star Wars, and his favorite dinosaur is Carnotaurus. Did we just become best friends?