The history of vintage cars with spoked wooden wheels

Written by james jordan
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The history of vintage cars with spoked wooden wheels
Very early automobiles used wooden spokes on their wheels. (Vintage car image by Andrew Breeden from

The earliest automobiles in the United States used wooden spokes in wheels. The practice soon proved impractical and spokes were made of steel or iron by the early 1920s.


Wagons used wooden spokes in wheels, so it must have made sense to early makers of the "horseless carriage" to continue the practice.


Wooden wheels warped easily and creaked as they rolled along streets and roadways. They also lost their paint quickly and had an unpleasant appearance. They would also crack fairly easily.


Early on, tires were very narrow and wooden spokes made sense. As tires became thicker, which gave better traction and a smoother ride, wooden spokes made less sense and were found to be impractical.


Most car makers stopped using wood spokes in the 20s, but some persisted into the early 30s. The Ford Model T ran wooden spokes from 1909 into the 1920s. It was not until 1926 that wire wheels began to be used. The Overland Willys had wooden spokes in 20s and early 30s. The Cadillac Model G used wooden spokes in its 1908 edition.

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