American Racing Torq-Thrust Wheels
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."
Still running strong
Today, the wheels come in many variations, widths, diameters, bolt patterns, and backspacing options to fit your personal needs. You can also, for instance, choose between a chromed, black, gray, machined, or polished center. It all depends on what look and style you are going for. The wheels you saw at that car show that looked bitchin on a wild hot rod, may not be the style you want on your 1969 Camaro, and vice versa. The traditional American Racing Torq-Thrust D was re-issued in the mid-1990s. It is by far the most iconic model available today, and it will look great on pretty much any 1960s car. A fully polished model, named Torq-Thrust II, is offered in a wide range of sizes. Today there is a big variety of Torq-Thrust sizes, and you’ll find them in everything from a traditional 14” to a more modern popular 20” diameter.
Hot Rods Featuring American Racing Torq-Thrust Wheels
Per Thoren's 1928 Ford Model A Roadster - Barely Legal
Paul Hannan's 1929 Ford Model A Roadster
Bob Hagerty's 1931 Ford Model A Tudor Sedan - Jade East
Bosse Eriksson's 1932 Ford Cabriolet
Bruce Olson's 1932 Ford 5-Window Coupe
Doyle Gammell's 1932 Ford 3-Window Coupe
Earl Bailey's 1932 Ford Tudor Sedan
Dave Stuckey's Lil' Coffin
Custom Cars Featuring American Racing Torq-Thrust Wheels
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