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hubcaps in the 1950s


walter stoffel
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Cost of hubcaps varied tremendously.  Aluminum moon discs, a popular hot rod accessory, cost $15 a set of 4, new. Generic chrome baby moons maybe $5 a set. The popular Cadillac 'sombrero' caps were only available from a Cadillac dealer or very occasionally from a wrecking yard and probably cost $20  apiece new. This is why stealing them became a thing. Full disc hub caps or wheel covers were only seen on the most expensive cars. Run of the mill Fords and Chevies had little 'dog dish' hub caps. The full disc caps were expensive. There were a variety of accessory or generic wheel discs made by companies like Lyon that were sold by parts stores. You can see them advertised in the back pages of early fifties car magazines, typically for $15 - $20 a set of 4.

What they were worth at the 'midnight auto supply' was whatever the traffic would bear. I suggest a stolen set of Cadillac sombreros out of the trunk of a car at a drive-in restaurant might cost $5 - $10 each. Lesser models of course would be cheaper.

I don't know of any articles on hubcap stealing and I have read extensively in hot rod, custom car, and general literature of the fifties. I have seen it mentioned in passing, in relation to 'juvenile delinquents' 'hot rodders' ' hoodlums in black leather jackets and duck tail hair cuts' etc.

My impression is that hubcap stealing was more a fantasy of middle aged newspaper editorial writers than a real thing. No doubt some hubcaps got stolen but it's not like it was very common.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Cost of hubcaps varied tremendously.  Aluminum moon discs, a popular hot rod accessory, cost $15 a set of 4, new. Generic chrome baby moons maybe $5 a set. The popular Cadillac 'sombrero' caps were only available from a Cadillac dealer or very occasionally from a wrecking yard and probably cost $20  apiece new. This is why stealing them became a thing. Full disc hub caps or wheel covers were only seen on the most expensive cars. Run of the mill Fords and Chevies had little 'dog dish' hub caps. The full disc caps were expensive. There were a variety of accessory or generic wheel discs made by companies like Lyon that were sold by parts stores. You can see them advertised in the back pages of early fifties car magazines, typically for $15 - $20 a set of 4.

What they were worth at the 'midnight auto supply' was whatever the traffic would bear. I suggest a stolen set of Cadillac sombreros out of the trunk of a car at a drive-in restaurant might cost $5 - $10 each. Lesser models of course would be cheaper.

I don't know of any articles on hubcap stealing and I have read extensively in hot rod, custom car, and general literature of the fifties. I have seen it mentioned in passing, in relation to 'juvenile delinquents' 'hot rodders' ' hoodlums in black leather jackets and duck tail hair cuts' etc.

My impression is that hubcap stealing was more a fantasy of middle aged newspaper editorial writers than a real thing. No doubt some hubcaps got stolen but it's not like it was very common.

I like this radio documentary from 1956, dealing with teenage hubcap theft. It's a good listen, especially since most people have lots of extra time right now.

 

https://pastdaily.com/2016/03/12/golden-hubcaps-1956-pop-chronicles/

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