1955-1964 Original Chevy Wheel Identification

Posted by Denny Williams & Joe Snow on 9/16/2013 to Tech Articles
[This article was first published in Chevy Times, December 2000, pp 18-23]

This week's Tech Check article will help you identify the different wheels on 1955-1964 Chevrolet passenger cars. With this article you will have the data and photos to identify the wheels you need for your Chevy project. There are a total of 8 different wheels for these years. The 1963 models were the only model year to have four different wheels. Early 1963 model wheels were the same as the 1962 wheels. Later 1963 model wheels were the same as the 1964 wheels. There are at least two photos of every wheel that should help you identify a wheel.

Below there is a list of identifying characteristics for each wheel. I want to explain each item of the list. There are several important measurements. The “wheel diameter” is the distance that matches the opening of the tire. You have to approximate with the tape measure where this distance starts and ends. (See Photo # 1.) The “wheel width” is the distance in between the metal as measured in Photo # 2. This is also an approximate length because the wheel curves in this area.
To get the “backset” distance lay the wheel on a flat surface and measure from the flat surface to the top of the inner wheel disk as seen in Photo # 3. (The “backset” is not the same as “offset”).

All of the wheels are two-piece wheels that are either riveted or welded together. The 1955 and early 1956 Chevy wheels were the last of the riveted wheels for passenger cars. (See Photo # 4.) Starting with most 1956 wheels, GM welded the two pieces together for fewer leaks and reduced production costs. (See Photo # 5.) The only difference between the 1955 and 1956 wheels is that the 1956 wheels have a small extra “bead” where the small hubcap snapped into place. (See Photo # 6.)


The measurements are all the same and once the full hubcap is installed you would not know the difference between a 1955 and 1956 wheel. Some of the wheels have slots that are hard to measure, so the measurements are approximate, but close. The width and length of the slot is given for those wheels that have slots. The 1957 wheel was the only wheel listed in the article that did not have slots.

I have used the term “first drop” to be the distance from the first shelf of the wheel to the second shelf. (See Photo # 7.)
If a wheel has another drop before the center disk, then that will be the “second drop.” (See Photo # 8.) It is difficult to measure the second drop, so that figure is approximate. (The first wheel with a second drop is the 6-inch wide 1959-1961 wheel.)

I believe that every wheel was supposed to have a “GM” stamping on the center disk, but it is often faint or missing. There were two types of stampings. Most 1955-1958 wheels that I have seen have the “G” and the “M” separated by a lug hole. (See Photo # 9.) Most of the 1959-1964 wheels that 1 have seen have the “GM” together and on a raised area of the center disk. (See Photo # 10.)

The 1955-1961 Chevy wheels had four nubs to secure the large wheel covers. (See Photo #11.) The 1962-1964 Chevy wheels do not have nubs to secure the full wheel covers but had a pair of nubs stamped in the outer part of the wheel, just above the valve stem hole. (See Photo # 12.)













Chevrolet states in literature, such as the “Finger-Tip Facts” books that starting in 1959, a 6-inch wide wheel was standard on station wagons and that the tire for this car was the wider tire. Since the 1962-1964 “Finger-Tip Facts” books also state that the cars with 409 engines used the wider tires, folklore has evolved, but it is probably not true, that 409 cars had the 6-inch wheels also. From page 47 of the “1964 Finger-Tip Facts” book Chevrolet states “8.00 x 14 standard on Station Wagons and 409-cu.-in. V8-equipped models.” For judging purposes, unless literature is found to the contrary, the 1962-1964 cars with “409” engines will be judged as correct with either the 5-inch or 6-inch wheels.

1955-1956 - 15 x 5

Models: Bel Air, 210, 150, Wagon, Nomad, Townsman, Beauville
Riveted two piece wheel for 1955 and early 1956. Most of the 1956 wheels were welded two piece wheels (See Photos #13 & #14.)
Has four nubs to hold the hubcap
Has 3 15/16-inch backset
Has four slots : 5/16-inch wide and 5-inches long
First drop is 1 1/16-inches and there is no 2nd drop
Miscellaneous notes: Most have a G and M stamped in the front center, usually across one of the lug holes.
(See Photo #9.)






1957- 14 x 5

Models: Bel Air, 210, 150, Wagon, Nomad, Townsman, Beauville
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #15 & #16.)
Has four nubs to hold the hubcap
Has 3 15/16-inch backset
Has no slots
First drop is 1 3/4-inches and there is no 2nd drop
Miscellaneous notes: Most have a G and M stamped in the front center, usually across one of the lug holes.







1958 - 14 x 5

Models: Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne, Brookwood, Nomad, Delray, Yeoman
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #17 & #18.)
Has four nubs to hold the hubcap Has 3 15/16-inch backset
Has four slots : 1/8-inch wide and 3 1 /2-inches long 
First drop is 1 13/16-inches and there is no 2nd drop
Miscellaneous notes: Most have a G and M stamped in the front center, usually across one of the lug holes.
 






1959-1961 - 14 x 5

Models: (non-Wagon) Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne  
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #19 & 20.)
Has four nubs to hold the hubcap Has 4-inch backset
Has four slots : 1/2-inch wide and 4 3/4-inches long 
First drop is 1 3/4-inches and there is no 2nd drop 
Miscellaneous notes: Most have a G M stamped in the front center, on one of the raised areas between two of the lug holes. (See Photo #10.) May have “Kelsey Hayes” and “14 x 5.00” stamped on the piece where the inner tube would be located.







1959-1961 -14 x 6

Models: (Wagon) Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne, Brookwood, Parkwood, Kingswood, Nomad 
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #21 & #22.)
Has four nubs to hold the hubcap
Has 4-inch backset
Has four slots : 1/2-inch wide and 4 3/4-inches long
First drop is 1 3/4-inches and the 2nd drop is about 1-inch
Miscellaneous notes: Most have a G M stamped in the front center, on one of the raised areas between two of the lug holes. May have “Kelsey Hayes” and “14 x 6JK” stamped on the piece where the inner tube would be located.






1962-1963 (early) - 14 x 5

Models: (non-Wagon) Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #23 & #24.)
Has no nubs
Has 4-inch backset
Has four slots : 1/2-inch wide and 5-inches long
First drop is 1 3/4-inches and the 2nd drop is about 1/8-inch 
Miscellaneous notes: Most have a G M stamped in the front center, on one of the raised areas between two of the lug holes. May have “Kelsey Hayes” and “14 x 6” stamped on the piece where the inner tube would be located. Has a pair of small nubs stamped in the side just above the valve stem hole. (See Photo #12.)





1962-1963 (early) - 14 x 6

Models: (Wagon) Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne, Parkwood, "409"
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #25 & #26.)
Has no nubs
Has 4-inch backset
Has four slots : 1/2-inch wide and 4 3/4-inches long
First drop is 1 3/4-inches and the 2nd drop is about 1-inch
Miscellaneous notes: Most have a G M stamped in the front center, on one of the raised areas between two of the lug holes. May have “Kelsey Hayes” and “14 x 6” stamped on the piece where the inner tube would be located. Has a pair of small nubs stamped in the side just above the valve stem hole
 





1963 (late)-1964-14 x 5

Models: (non-Wagon) Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #27 & #28.)
Has no nubs
Has 4-inch backset
Has four slots : 1/2-inch wide and 5-inches long First drop is 1 1/8-inches and the 2nd drop is about 1/2-inch 








Miscellaneous notes: The most significant distinguishing feature about this wheel is that there is a 3/8-inch wide “valley” at the bottom of the first drop. The “valley” is shallow, but very noticeable. (See Photo #29.) Most have a G M stamped in the front center, on one of the raised areas between two of the lug holes. May have “Kelsey Hayes” and “14 x 5” stamped on the piece where the inner tube would be located. Has a pair of small nubs stamped in the side just above the valve stem hole. (Chevrolet used this wheel through the 1968 models.)











1963 (late)-1964 - 14 x 6

Models: (Wagon) Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne, "409"
Welded two piece wheel (See Photos #30 & #31.)
Has no nubs
Has 4-inch backset
Has four slots : 1/2-inch wide and 5-inches long
First drop is 1 1/8-inches and the 2nd drop is about 1 1/4-inches








Miscellaneous notes: The most significant distinguishing feature about this wheel is that there is a 3/8-inch wide “valley” at the bottom of the first drop. The “valley” is shallow, but very noticeable. Most have a G M stamped in the front center, on one of the raised areas between two of the lug holes. We have seen many (not all) of these wheels with a 1/8-inch hole in one of the raised areas between two lug holes. (See Photo #32.) May have “Kelsey Hayes” and “14 x 6” stamped on the piece where the inner tube would be located. Has a pair of small nubs stamped in the side just above the valve stem hole. (Chevrolet used this wheel through the 1968 models.)
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Comments

Bill Date 3/11/2014

Thank you for taking the time to write this very informative article- it has cleared up a lot confusion for me.

william Date 4/1/2016

would gladly buy this " info " in a tech bulletin or whatever form, always loved those wagon wheels. thanks guys.

Larry Kowalski Date 12/16/2016

Hi did Chevy ever make a 14x 51/2 rim ? Are there any ID numbers on them ? Larry thanks

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