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Wheels, hubcaps for ‘38

Phil Wimbish

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   I am wondering what wheels will work for my ‘38 Zephyr.

my car came with 15” wheels with the small bolt pattern.  I know that in ‘38 they used the large bolt pattern and beautiful large hubcaps in the earlier cars and the smaller in the late year production.  My goal is to use the late hubcaps and ultimately convert to hydraulic brakes.  I have some huge hills in my neighborhood hood and the thought of those old mechanical brakes scare me!

   I am not worried about keeping it original .

So,can the large 38 hubcaps be made to work with any other wheels besides the wide 16” x4” wheels?  Will ford 16” artillery wheels work or other ford wheels, there seem to be way more of them out there?

Anyone  have a set of wheels and whitewall tires, old is fine for now?

    I am still looking for a running V12, may use a flathead ford , just to get this car going.  Not into rebuilding right now with the current disastrous situation going on.

   Thanks in advance,

be safe and healthy!

Phil W




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If your Zephyr is a late 38, it may have come from the factory with the small bolt pattern. The Ford / Mercury wide 5 wheels are 16" x 4". Here is a link that talks about the wheels for the Zephyrs.



Cable brakes in good condition are equal to hydraulic drum brakes in good condition in stopping power. The cable brakes require periodic maintenance to keep the cables working properly. Replacement parts are harder to find than the hydraulic parts. The hydraulic brakes require periodic system flushing to prevent rust from the moisture in the fluid from ruining the cylinders. The rust can lead to sudden failure of the brakes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I built my 39 Packard and wanted artillery wheels but original 38 hub caps.  I did this as every  unknowing person at car shows would ask what kind of car it was.  Packard in 38 had Packard in bold letters on the caps. There is a company in California called Wheelsmith that sold me modern artillery wheels and converted my hubcaps to fit the wheels.      

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Thanks for the replies!

      I am familiar with Wheelsmith and may consider going that route. For now I was hoping to find a set of 16” wheels with wide white walls as somebody probably has a spare set sitting around out there..  I was hoping someone could share their experience adapting early ‘38 hubcaps to later small bolt pattern wheels.  

    I’m in the process of getting this project going and will post more info on my car soon.

Thanks for the interest!


PS. Still having a hard time getting my head around mechanical brakes, though having experienced hydraulic failure in the past they may be worth a shot. I just wish I could get in and out of my ‘hood without negotiating steep hills!

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You may have to consider relocating. % # .  38 LZ  mechanical brakes are great if set up right. Basics are patience,   soft linings radiused to suit ark of drums and shoes   centerilized as per workshop manual by  adjusting big eccentric nut -  thats not us !   Cables adjusted evenly, front brakes on slightly ahead of rear brakes, , and finally more patience with  shoes adjusted with as little  drag as possible. Otherwise  reconsider relocating.   

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