THE TRUTH ABOUT CRAGAR WHEELS

THE TRUTH ABOUT CRAGAR WHEELS


– [Narrator] Busch, Busch, Busch Busch, Busch, Busch, Busch. – I need more Busch
Light, more Copenhagen, more walls next to other
countries, more V8s, more not paying our
taxes, more American guns to talk about this next company. (rap music) Welcome to Cragar. The man, the myth, the legend of Cragar wheels. Did any of you guys actually ask for this? No, then why are we doing it? Well because Klassen actually
won’t respond to our emails. So we though we’d talk about the brand that our mechanic wanted us to talk about. So that makes about two people that have ever asked for
Cragar wheel history. Founded in 1930 by Crane Gartz, Cragar wheels was founded
with wild, bald eagle juice and American facial hair. This company was pretty
much breed and born at the difficult times of the recession. Cragar wheels was a company, that actually wasn’t even involved in making
wheels until the late ’50s. Cragar was ultimately making
Ford Model A manifolds and anything that had to do with airplanes because back in the day,
they just really didn’t know what else to do. Crane teamed up with Harlan Fengler, to actually partner the
company to get involved in the after market automotive scene. But because of how everything worked out, Crane really just wanted to get involved in whatever they could. What does Cragar stand for? Well that’s pretty
simple if you break down the first three letters of
both his first and last name. You get Cragar. Because Cragar had a
small fortune behind him, which if you didn’t know, was founded on a publishing company. Cragar was able to buy the
tools, patterns, and machinery that they needed to get involved
in making any sort of, well technical, automotive,
or aerospace products you can possibly imagine. Cragar was doing well but they weren’t doing that well. They actually weren’t doing well enough to survive The Great Depression. And in 1932, the Cragar
name ultimately collapsed and there was no light
in sight for the company. But it didn’t take long because in 1933, George Wight from Bell Auto Parts decided to purchase the Cragar name. Wight was a grizzly,
little man that made parts and flipped parts out of junk yards to sell them to fuel his
racing pedigree and– (clears through) I got beer stuck in my throat. There’s just nothing quite like
12 flowing ounces of America in every sip or it’s my acid reflux. I can’t decide what it is. Might be both. Now this was all happening
in Southern California which is where a lot of the
original racing pedigree was founded on. But George Wight had
something that Cragar didn’t. Finding absolutely amazing talent. You see because Cragar just
tried to make products, Wight went out there
and tried to find people that could explode this brand into something completely different. And before you knew it, they were the hot new kids on the block. They had famous actors, famous musicians, favorite fabricators and mechanics, and race car drivers, all coming to Bell Auto Parts because of the talent
that Wight was finding to produce all of these high end parts. And the Bell Auto Parts
name began to grow. Because of how everything
worked back in the day, it was all word of mouth. If you have all the famous
people and all the rich people and all the people that know
how to drive, in one place, you’re gonna do pretty good for yourself. And for the most part, the
Cragar name sat on the sidelines. They continued to be
influenced by Bell Auto Parts but for the most part, the purchase was originally
for the patterns and machinery. It really had nothing to do with the name or why, you know, they
were doing anything. Just like anything else, you don’t know that you need something until you don’t have it anymore. And until George Wight
ultimately passed away in 1943, the Cragar name didn’t
see a whole lot of light. In fact, it wasn’t until 1945, that the Cragar name really
started to get back involved with a man named Roy Richter. Now Roy was, when he was young, a scrawny redhead that
just wanted to get involved in everything racing oriented. But this was something
that Roy was very good at. He was good at being a perfectionist. In fact, he was considered one of the best fabricators at the time. When Bell Auto Parts picked
him up for fabricating parts and machinery from the Cragar partnership, Roy just began to take
off and he was synonymous with some of the best work you could possibly get
in Southern California. And to a lot of people, Roy is the reason that Bell and Cragar continued to be a name
throughout the difficult times of the ’40s and into the ’50s. It wasn’t until, ultimately
passing of Wight, that Roy decided that he
wanted to take on a lease of the Cragar name and
the Bell Auto Parts name, which had gone through ups and downs and everything in between. And then something
interesting happened in 1945. We won the war which is weird. You didn’t know winning the war would create some sort of
internal growth of business and prideful nationwide excitement, and being American, and drinking Busch Light. Talking about V8s and
racing cars in circles and not stopping and (mumbles) Talking about other things, like having fast cars and pretty women because America. (metal banging) Who’s even hitting out
there if it’s not you? (metal banging) – [Man] Really inconsistent. Oh, god. (laughs) So you see, the automotive community had grown exponentially
after the World War II. Americans wanted something to do with all of their pastime
and being freedom. – Yeah. – Being freedom and Americanized and all that sort of good stuff, and they thought, what else to do besides make fast cars that go in a straight line. You had infamous names
like Vic Edelbrock, Sr. Phil Weiand, Ed Iskenderian,
Stu Hilborn, Phil Remington come out of the social
work and start pushing everything that had to
do with after market, well, car stuff. You see, back in the day, when you wanted after market wheels, there was like two
options and both of them really weren’t that fun
or good at the time. A lot of people preferred to
just cut their steel wheels, flip the face, and then
weld them back together before putting them back on the car so you can get a deep lip. But then these people would paint them, they’d pinstripe them,
they’d plate them in chrome and that’s how you got a
lot of after market wheels back in the day. Back in the time, Roy wanted
to have something cooler and they thought, “Well if
anybody can do it, it’s them.” and they decided involved
using the Cragar wheel name. I hate to say it but sorry tuner guys. Muscle car guys came out with
chrome lips before you did. In fact, they liked lipped
wheels before, pretty much, any tuner even thought of it. In 1964, the most infamous
wheels to ever hit the domestic market
officially came out, the S/S. Now if you didn’t know what the S/S is, or you’ve been living under a rock. The S/S is realistically, probably the most infamous
wheel ever, like ever. Like domestic, internationally,
everything in between whether you live in Europe, whether you live in America, whether you live in Australia, or Canada which is like 90% of our viewers, it was the most popular thing
you could buy for wheels. In fact, going under the Cragar name, Roy Richter, all he wanted to do was to make good wheels that were
affordable and looked nice. Because of the market that they were hitting in the price point, they were hitting at the same time, they hit a goldmine. They continued to be, probably, the most successful wheel to date. The S/S is considered one of
the most duplicated wheels of all time. It’s been considered one of the most successful wheels of all time and probably, the single, biggest reason that anybody knows of domestic wheels back in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s of the United States of America. Back in the day, if you
didn’t have Cragars, you were just lame. Now what made this wheel different from other people making
after market wheels was the fact that they lasted a long time. The five spokes, were
actually, clipped together to the barrel in a different
way then anybody else had ever done. You see, back in the day, they used screws and bolts
and things like that, that were heavy and
completely inconsistent with keeping strength rigidity
in an after market wheel. What the Cragar S/S managed to do was to make the clip-based
system, essentially, a really easy way to
shave a lot of weight, maintain rotational mass, and to be a safe wheel. There were times where
the first set of wheels that went out, had very
small imperfections that he wanted to take
back from his friends so that he could fix it,
so it was a perfect wheel. We’re talking about aesthetic scratches that this guy didn’t wanna have. That’s how particular Roy was
with the Cragar S/S wheel. In fact, he got mad at his
own team for using them for high speed drag racing because, ultimately, what Roy says, that was not their intended purpose. For a long time, Roy
continued to battle and fight and essentially, continue to be successful but push away from what the
wheels weren’t meant to do for a long time. It became clear that Cragar
needed to come out with a wheel that was meant for high speed racing. It wasn’t until they got
into the Mag division of their U.S. wheels, that
they really started to do that. But Cragar wheels is pretty much known, for the one and only, infamous S/S. From there, Cragar develops
the wheels that would go on one of the fastest vehicles to
hit almost 666 miles an hour, the Blue Thunderbolt, the Blue Flame. Who comes up with these names? Cragar founded the Five-Second club and created a second Five-Second club because Cragar decided
that if there’s gonna be anybody at the forefront
of making fast cars, they wanted their wheels to be on it. In 1971, Cragar was purchased
by Wynn Oil Company. By 1972, they were already
being awarded one of the manufacturer award of the year for making some of the best products you could buy at the time. It wasn’t until 1983, that
Roy Richter, ultimately, passed away, which left the company in, somewhat of a disarray. Cragar continued to make wheels and continued to try and push
the name as much as possible. But between the ’80s and now, not a whole lot has happened
with the Cragar name. They were ultimately
purchased By Carlstar in 2014 and rebranded shortly after. In terms of new design, they
really don’t have a whole lot and they realistically,
won’t have a whole lot because the Cragar name isn’t
associated with anything new. It’s associated with
the time that has passed and a company that no longer exists. And while there are people that
run the Cragar wheel brand, they do it for nostalgia and
probably not to push the style and what makes new wheels cool. There’s nothing wrong with that. There are gonna be people that are gonna continue to run the Cragar wheel because it is a cool wheel. But it’s unfortunate, that there probably won’t be a company like
Cragar to come across for quite a long time. That’s everything that we have
on the Crager wheel history. We hope you guys enjoyed. Be sure to subscribe and of course, we’re doing another giveaway. We’re gonna be giving away a t-shirt and a banner on top of the
one we gave away last week. All you have to do is drop
a comment on your dream car. You have to drop a comment
on what your dream car is and if you wanna tell us
what to talk about next week, be happy to do so. Our last weeks winner, Mario’s
gonna get me right now, is gonna be going out to, let’s see here. I’m just gonna go, I don’t like iPhones. Its kinda weird. The next winner of this
weeks giveaway, goes out to Tito Lopez. Tito Lopez, congratulations on winning. You wanna email us at
[email protected] let us know, what you like
to get for a shirt size. We’ll be sure to hook you up. I would throw this phone
but it would probably break. I’m Alan from Fitment Industries. We’ll see you later. Peace.

About the Author: Michael Flood

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