American Racing Torq-Thrust Wheels

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Paul Hannan's 1929 Ford Model A roadster photographed at the 1962 Grand National Roadster Show in February of 1962. This is one of the earliest street rods we have found running Torq-Thrust wheels. Hannan polished the wheels before he installed them on his roadster. A very labor-intense process. Today you can achieve the same look by ordering and installing a set of Polished Torq-Thrust Original Wheels. Check sizes, prices, and availability on these wheels on Amazon.com. Photo from The James Handy Collection.
Attending the 1962 Grand National Roadster Show was also John Gomez's 1957 Chevrolet. A radical Joe Bailon build that had been dressed up with mag wheels for the season. This is one of the first customs we have seen rolling on Torq-Thrust wheels. If you want the same kind of wheels for your custom, you better check out the Polished Torq-Thrust Original Wheels, or the Chromed model of the Torq-Thrust D's. Check sizes, prices, and availability for these wheels on Amazon.com. Photo by Bud Lang, from The Petersen Archive.
In 1963 Larry Farber toured the West Coast with his Lil' Coffin. By then the Dave Stuckey built show rod had been dressed up with 15-inch Torq-Thrust wheels, Coker whitewalls, and cheater slicks. Click here to check price and availability for the same wheels on Amazon.com. Photo from The James Handy Collection.
Back in 1963, when Bob Hagerty built his 1931 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan, he ordered a pair of Torq-Thrust wheels for the rear of the car. "I can't remember how much they cost. I bet it took every dime I could save," he told Kustomrama in 2020. The wheels ran M&H Blackwall piecrust slicks. Click here to check price and availability for the same wheels on Amazon.com.

The American Racing Torq-Thrust Mag Wheel is by many considered to be the most famous and recognizable wheel of all time. It started as an idea, and a need for a wheel that would give less weight, with strength and the cooling ability for race cars. From slingshot dragsters, it found its way onto hot rods and custom cars, before it eventually became an iconic design copied by many. What started as a need on a race car ended up as a need by the public for an image to relate to. Custom wheels give the car an identity. An alteration from the norm to stand out from the crowd. Back in the early days of customizing, installing a beautiful set of wheels was one of the first things a person would do to a car. It still is today. American Racing Equipment's invention was quickly copied by many in the auto customizing industry. The copy cats soon innovated, and it didn't take a long time before there was a flourishing of copies of the Torq-Thrust wheel available on the market. From Appliance to Fenton, to Astro's and Ansen. A conglomerate of sorts, making it hard to tell or desire a specific wheel. American Racing was the leader of the pack. The one to imitate. Demand was created by the leader using a certain style or brand of wheel.


A star is born

Ads for the first American Racing five-spoke mag wheels started showing up in Hot Rod Magazine as early as 1960. Promoted as "Mag Wheels by American Racing Equipment," Palamides and Ellison advertised that their competition wheels were sold through leading speed shops.


The 7" x 15" Torq-Thrust

By 1962 Torq-Thrust wheels had started popping up on the streets, and a couple of hot rods and customs running American mags attended the 1962 Grand National Roadster Show. The first Torq-Thrust wheels were only available as 14” wheels, and in 1962 a magnesium 7" x 15" Torq-Thrust wheel for competition or street use can be found in American Racing Equipment catalog for "Magnesium Racing Wheels." Designed for 7.10/15 slicks or 7.60 to 8.20 street rubber, the wheels were priced at $65.00 each.


Aluminum wheels for the mass market

As the popularity of the Torq-Thrust wheel increased, Palamides and Ellison followed up with a lower cost aluminum version of their wheel. A good alternative to have for the mass market. Since then, the iconic wheel has rolled on to become one of the most popular brand names throughout time, and Hot Rod Magazine even named the Torq Thrust wheel itself "One of the top 20 speed parts that changed the world." The one-piece cast wheel was very suitable for the drag race market, and shortly after, a variety of models quickly hit the market. Baja, Libre, 200S (known as the “Daisy” and infamous from the cult movie Two Lane Blacktop), Silverstone, and Vector.


The best wheels on the market

Keith Christensen recalls American Racing as a wonderful company that had one of the best quality control wheels on the market. "The machining, drilling of lug holes and valve stem holes was held to the highest standards of quality. To own a set of American Racing wheels was indeed a feather in your hat, as they were expensive. People, quite often, would take them out and have them fully polished, a labor-intense process, but then you were "top turkey". Everyone would ooh and aah when they saw those wheels on your car."[1]


Hot Rods Featuring American Racing Torq-Thrust Wheels

Paul Hannan's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster
Bob Hagerty's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan - Jade East
Lil' Coffin


References




 

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