Wheels of Fortune

The History, the Variety, the Beauty of Mag Wheels continue to “wow” today with sporty style and seriously rugged performance. Vintage mag wheels, either original factory-issue or aftermarket custom add-ons, have been made since the 1930s, and came into the popular spotlight in the 1950s and 60s, the Halibrand Magnesium Roadster Wheel being a true pioneer and one of the era’s best known. 

During those latter decades Halibrand Engineering was the top supplier of components (from drivelines and quick change rear axles, to front hubs and disc brakes) for Indy roadsters. The term “mag wheels” itself can be traced to the racing wheels designed and produced by engineer Ted Halibrand’s company. During WWII, Halibrand often used magnesium to replace broken aluminum aircraft parts at Southern California’s Douglas Aircraft, and recognized the metal’s potential as a material for casting lighter, stronger and safer racing wheels (to replace wire laced wheels that had been used since the early 1920s).

Halibrand cast his first set of magnesium wheels in 1946, and they became immediately successful, starting with Indy racers. By 1950, a third of the Indy 500 starters were using the new Halibrand “mags.”  

Serious Indy history followers say that between 1952 and 1966, every roadster racing at Indy used Halibrand magnesium wheels.

Today’s generation of magnesium wheels, descended from “America’s First Custom Wheel,” are exemplified by the world-renowned wheels made by SMW Engineering.  They represent best-in-class, state-of-the-art technology–including precise, computerized design, optimum alloy formulae, advanced anti-corrosive coatings, and proprietary three-dimensional closed-die forging processes–that give today’s racers and everyday roadsters distinct advantages: faster acceleration and reduced braking distance; increased lifecycle for tires, brake pads and disks; a longer-lived suspension system; faster heat dissipation from the wheels and brake system, and more.  So mag wheels contribute to an overall more comfortable ride with safer cornering and turning.  They’re a safer, smarter, stylish investment for your ride.

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