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| 1956 Dodge D500 Wheels: 5.5", 6", 6.5", 8" or 9.5" wide? Take your pick.|
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Location: Lower Mainland BC
To be honest, I am not sure why I want to do a post on any wheel, let alone D500 wheels. They are round and made of steel. What more do we need to know?
Well, for starters, Ma Mopar listed at least 3 or 4 wheels for the D500. Various bolt circles, various widths with the only constant being the nominal diameter, 15 inches. So it might be interesting to chase them down.
When the 1956 Dodge was announced to the public on Dec. 22, 1955, there was one wheel noted in the Bulletin, a 15 x 5.5K (width) with a 4.5” bolt circle. The only thing of note was that 5.5” width. There was no part number (PN) mentioned.
Based on the wheel PN listings in the 56 Chryco hardcopy part manual and the 55-58 Mopar Parts pdf it looks like this initial D500 wheel offering was PN 1635 360. Furthermore, this wheel was not exclusive to the D500. More the opposite, it was “stolen” from the non-estate wagon 55 and 56 Chrysler (including the 55 Chrysler 300) parts bins and shared with the 1956 P29 Fury (as were the rear springs and other “D500” parts).
"15 x 5. 50, P29 Fury, D63 w/12" Brake, All C67, C68, C71 except Cal.Blt., C72 except Cal.Blt., except Est. Wgn., C68-300 All"
If I knew that I was going become obsessed with 56 Dodge D500 minutiae when I got my 56 D500 in Sept. 2016, I would have taken more photos before I took the OE wheels off and installed the 85 Dodge Diplomat cop car wheels that I have been running since November 2016. All I have is the photos below. At least I can confirm the 15 x 5.5K part (See photos below)
See the 56 Chryco and 55-58 Mopar parts manual images below
See photos my 56 D500s OE wheels
There must have been a lot of interest in the 56 Dodge D500 for racing (think NASCAR and the like back then) because by January 12, 1956 Chrysler issued a bulletin with a lot of new parts for the D500, including new wheel options. All of these new wheel options were wider and all used the larger 5.5 inch bolt circle wheels that had been used on the Desoto and Chrysler Estate Wagons and the Imperials and Crown Imperials. Presumably the racers wanted the bigger wheels so bigger and stronger tires (more plies) could be mounted. One of these wheels was a 15 x 6L x 5.5 inch bolt circle wheel with PN 1532 999. The other Jan. 12th wheel was an even wider 15 x 8K x 5.5 inch bolt circle wheel with PN 1732 664. Regardless, for the users of these 5.5” bolt circle wheels, they would also have to have a bunch of Imperial/Estate wagon hubs and brake drums, etc.
There must have been some kind of chaos going on with the upper ranks of Dodge around that time because the very next day, January 13th, there was another! bulletin issued to correct some parts of the January 12th Bulletin. In particular, there was a correction to the 1532 999 wheel because now it was called a 15 x 6.5 x 5.5 bolt circle wheel. Okay, so Who’s on First? Gong show.
See Jan 12th and Jan 13th Bulletins below
The part numbers that were listed in the Jan 12th and 13th Bulletins do *not* show up in either the 56 Chryco or 55-58 Mopar parts manuals/catalogues that I have, so that is a bit frustrating. What does show up is a 15 x 6 wheel with PN 1633 066 Desoto and Chrysler Estate Wagon and the C73 Imperial wheel (so 5.5” bolt circle) and a 1633 073 15 x 6 wheel for the C70 Imperial Crown (5.5” bolt circle). The only 15 x 6.5 inch wheel that shows up in the parts manuals is a 1533 281 Wire wheel that was for the 1955 Chrysler C67 and C68 Estate Wagons and the 1955 C69 Imperial and 1955 C70 Crown Imperial. ( It is very unlikely that a wire wheel was used for racing.)
See the same Chryco and 55-58 Mopar parts manual images below
I did a bit of poking around looking for Imperial wheel info and from what I’ve seen, it would appear that the 1633 066 was a solid steel wheel with limited ventilation and the 1633 073 was a ventilated wheel.
See photos of Imperials with the unvented and vented 5.5” wheels
Once I knew that the Imperial wheels looked like, I went looking for examples of those wheels on D500 race cars. I came up with a few examples, including Marvin Panch driving a D500 Convertible with what looks like vented Imperial wheels.
See Marvin Panch and the D500 Convertible with vented Imperial wheels
While poking around looking for more D500 wheel info, I found a post by Wayne G. (StillOutThere) on the H.A.M.B. Jalopy Journal website in which Wayne discusses a conversation with Bill Allen the owner (then) of the Lee Petty No. 42 D500 tribute car. This is what Wayne said:
“Earlier we were talking about the wheels used on the Chrysler 300 Kiekhaefer race cars and how he may have taken advantage of an opening in the rules that did not specify maximum wheel width so he maxed out in the '56 Chrysler wheel well at 9.5 inches.
I emailed friend Bill Allen who cloned the '56 Dodge Lee Petty race car to ask him what he had done on wheels and tires on that car. His response, received overnight, may interest you. Pics of his car follow.
"Thanks for your note, Wayne. I chose to reinforce (double center) the Imperial wheels to be more consistent with pictures of what Lee Petty ran at Daytona in February 1956 and based on the advice of Marvin Panch (basically duplicated what Marvin drew on a napkin). The Kiekhaefer 300B's and Dodges ran the wide wheels. Some "independents" ran the wide 9.5 wheels on the front and the Imperial 15X6 in the rear (looked really strange. . .required major body work to get clearance in the rear of the Dodge to run the wide wheels. Jack Boxtrom's Kiekhaefer 300B has the 15 X 9.5's in both the front and the rear).
I chose Firestone ( Coker) bias tire based on a copy of a cancelled check endorsed by Lee Petty to Firestone tire store. I chose 8.20 X 15 size - the standard Dodge size was 7.50 X 15 Richard Petty said that all they could afford were "Montgomery Wards" on a regular basis. I have no idea regarding tire size and brand regarding Kiekhaefer 300's and Dodges. / Bill"
See below for some photos of Bill’s No. 42 tribute car
Based on the above, it looks like the gloves were off with respect to wheel widths for the racing D500s, even if they had to make the wheels more or less from scratch (likely using the unvented 5.5” bolt circle center bits).
See below for photos of various racing D500s with wide wheels, including the real No. 42 at speed on a dirt track
That’s all folks.
Edited by 56D500boy 2020-01-18 9:29 PM
56ChrycoWheelPNs_Including56DodgeD5001653360.jpg (232KB - 20 downloads)
56MoparWheelPNs_Including56DodgeD5001653360.jpg (155KB - 19 downloads)
StockD500_15x5point5Wheel_1_Small.jpg (161KB - 20 downloads)
StockD500_15x5point5Wheel_2_small.jpg (95KB - 20 downloads)
OE56D500Wheels_IncorrectOuterPaint.jpg (211KB - 20 downloads)
OE56D500Wheels_ShowingSizeDesignationAndUSPatentNumbers.jpg (153KB - 20 downloads)
OE56D500Wheels_ShowingSizeDesignationAndUSPatentNumbers_CloseUp.jpg (160KB - 19 downloads)
Jan12thSupplementToBulletinJ10Dec22_55.jpg (173KB - 20 downloads)
Jan13thCorrectionToTheJan12thSupplementToBulletinJ10Dec22_55.jpg (131KB - 19 downloads)
1956-ChryslerImperialLimo_VentedWheels_2.jpg (230KB - 20 downloads)
D500Dash1Convertible_2.jpg (244KB - 18 downloads)
D500Dash1Convertible_2_WheelDetail_1.jpg (86KB - 19 downloads)
LeePettyNo42D500TributeCar_1.jpg (113KB - 19 downloads)
LeePettyNo42D500TributeCar_2.jpg (41KB - 19 downloads)
LeePettyNo42D500TributeCar_3_ShowingDoubleCenteredWheel.JPG (49KB - 19 downloads)
WPCMuseumKiekhaeferD500_2_small.jpg (62KB - 19 downloads)
WPCMuseumKiekhaeferD500_3_small.jpg (35KB - 20 downloads)
Frank-Mundy-D500Convertible.jpg (138KB - 18 downloads)
LeePettyD500No42InAction.jpg (58KB - 19 downloads)
MarvinPanchAndTomHarbisonDodgeD500Feb56.jpg (148KB - 18 downloads)
DaytonBeachFeb1956.jpg (129KB - 19 downloads)
|Here is what I have on file and confirmed by Charlie Strang: "1) Wide base rims: After in-house R&D, balance of work out-sourced to Wheels Incorporated, which used standard rims as starting point for manufacturing heavy duty wheels up to 12” wide. 15x9.5” wide wheels were approved for use on Chrysler 300s; 15x8.0” wide wheels were approved for use on Dodge D500-1s in NASCAR competition." Carl Kiekhaefer and Charlie Strang invented from scratch the wide base wheels that were ultimately used/approved for the NASCAR GN Chryslers and Dodges during the mid-1950s.|
Location: Under the X in Texas
|<p>Here is a picture of Bill Fenrich, Carl Kiekhaefer's chief welder and dyno operator, working on one of those wheels back in the day. After welding and truing, the wheels were all Magnafluxed (this picure) to guarantee they had no weaknesses before going racing. </p><p>The picture credit to Bill's son, Gary, who supplied it to me. Original source is Mercury Outboard's photo archives of the racing years. No public access to the archives. Gary works for Mercury, just as his father did!</p>|
Edited by StillOutThere 2020-03-01 4:50 PM
87840333_10206975602665744_8368034088744910848_o.jpg (85KB - 10 downloads)
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