Welcome to the first installment of Rod Authority’s “College Of Hot Rod Knowledge.” An ongoing series where we look at the history of hot rodding as well as short format “How-To” articles.
There is a fine line between kustoms and lowriders. Some say they are two different disciplines completely and have nothing to do with each other.
We say rubbish.
They’re brothers from a different mother and both genres share an inseparable bond, the Supreme mag wheel. We think they look good on almost any car, but where did they originate and how did they become such an iconic car accessory that grows more popular, year after year? If you’re looking for the origin of the Supreme mag, let’s dig down and get to the bottom of how this wheel came to be.
Supreme mags have been sold under many makes, but they haven’t been called “Astro” Supremes for nearly 35 years. Some guys still call them “Astros” and that’s okay, we just wanted to set the record straight right off the bat.
The original maker of the Supreme mag wheel was Astro Enterprise out of Gardena, CA. They gained notoriety on the kustom/hot rod scene in the early ’60s with the intro of a wheel that was called Supreme but was a very different wheel than the what we know today. It had more cylinder-like spokes and a bigger hubs and was not as cool as the wheel it evolved into. It’s as rare as hen’s teeth too.
The Supreme 2.0 borrowed some design cues from mags wheels of the day most notably American Racing. The tapered spokes appeared for the first time and the hub and center cap start to look like what we now know a Supreme to look like. Although many folks still crown Astro Enterprises as the father of the Supreme, Wheel Centre Co introduced a wheel at same time Astro debuted the Supreme 1.0 and looked way more “Supreme” than Astro’s original model.
Nonetheless, Astro was the company that mass produced and popularized it in the mid to late 60’s, so for better or worse, they get the credit. From most accounts, the company went out of business in the early ’70s.
From there the wheel sort of faded away and then made a comeback in the early ’70s via the lowriding community. Some say famed wheel impresario Pete Paulsen and his “House of Wheels” were the first to carry the revived Supremes although the brand names of the manufacturers are unclear. Some Northern California wheel shops were pitching Supremes back in the late ’70s as well.
This is when a new era of car guys, mostly lowrider fans, were introduced to the wheel, without the brand name Astro attached to them. It would take another twenty years before Supremes would really hit the big time again.
US Wheel jump started the game again in the ’90s with the “48 Series Supreme wheel” and followed up with different build processes and several cap designs.
Unique Wheel als0 offered their own Supreme wheel with a cap that had a “Unique” logo in the center. Offering many sizes, they had spotty quality depending on where they were manufactured. They had a couple of designs as well.
Allied Wheel Components started making their “Series 67” wheel sometime after 2002.
Today, Cragar has been distributing a wheel as the “Cragar Series 167 Super Supreme.” Your author bought a set for his Cadillac from Tru-Spoke based out of Fallbrook, California and Summit carrys them as well.
There have been many iterations over the years but the Supreme remains a go-to for car enthusiasts of all strains. The Supreme wheel has the uncanny ability to look good on most any car. Wide whites, narrow whites or blackwalls work equally well too.
Regardless of what manufacturer you ultimately buy from, be sure and leverage their tech know-how. Getting the right size and offset for your car is critical. Our rep at Tru-Spoke told us he would “need a note from your mother” if he was going to sell us the reverse version. We were tickled pink when we installed our 15X7 Supremes on our ’70s Cadillac Seville.
In Southern California, one doesn’t have to worry much about rust and corrosion, but for other parts of the country, we would recommend a mild detergent (Dawn) and a coat of wax every six months or so to keep oxidation at bay.