A primer for Shelby/Dodge FWD wheels

Dodge and Carroll Shelby both used a variety of wheels on their performance cars of the mid-80s to early 90s. We Shelby/Dodge enthusiasts tend to refer to these wheels by a number of nicknames which often confuse those who are new to these terms. To minimize this confusion, I have assembled a collection of small pictures of most of these wheels. These wheels will be shown in approximate chronological order; with each picture I will give the common name for that wheel and its various applications as used by Chrysler/Dodge or Shelby.

NOTE: this information is descriptive of cars sold in America only. Chrysler tended to change things slightly when exporting cars, so this information may not be indicitive of other countries. Also, my intent is to focus only on the wheels used on production Shelby/Dodge cars, specifically those that I do now profile or intend to profile in the future on my web pages. Therefore this page will be far from complete when you consider all the wheels available from Shelby, Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth.

The earliest of the 15" aluminum wheels is widely known as the pizza wheel. This name came from the fact that all the holes were uniformly sized and equally distributed around the wheel, not unlike pepperoni slices on a pizza. This wheel was introduced on the 1983 1/2 Shelby Charger; it eventually became the factory standard 15" wheel for high-performance front wheel drive cars and was used quite extensively. For the 1985 model year, all 15" aluminum wheels were upgraded from 4 to 5 lugs; thus the pizza wheel is available in both 4-lug and 5-lug versions. All pizza wheels had 16 holes and were 6.0" wide no matter how many lugs were featured. It continued to be used through the 1987 model year.

The pizza wheel was accompanied for the 1984 model year by a similar wheel known most commonly as the swiss cheese wheel because of its numerous holes of different sizes that are scattered all over the wheel's surface. This wheel was used on various vehicles, but only for a short time. It was introduced in the 1984 model year, wherein it could be attached to just about every high-performance and/or turbocharged car made by Dodge and Chrysler - standard on the Daytona turbo, Lazer turbo, and Omni GLH (but not the Shelby Charger); it was also optionally used (when 15" wheels were called for) on some K-car based vehicles (400 and 600, etc). As it turns out, swiss cheese wheels were used on at least a few cars into the 1985 model year until it was phased out completely; thus there are 4-lug and 5-lug versions of it in existence. All swiss cheese wheels had 40 holes (count 'em!) and measured 6.0" wide.

This not-too-common wheel is typically called a wagon wheel because of its similarity to a wooden wheel as used on, say Little House on the Prairie. (For you younger web surfers, this equates to a wheel used on a typical wagon and/or stagecoach of the old west.) Wagon wheels were used only on the Chrysler Lazer for the 1985 and 1986 model years. Wagon wheels had 8 spokes, 5 lugs, measured 15x6.0 inches, and were finished in gray paint with silver highlights.

At the time that Shelby began to produce his own Dodge-based cars, he happened to have his own wheel business on the side. Thus it is no surprise that each of his vehicles used unique Shelby wheels rather than those which 'mere' Dodges wore. Case in point: the Centurion wheel, shown here; it was used exclusively on the Omni-based 1986 Shelby GLHS. Centurions have the name SHELBY embossed into one of the recesses and the insets are painted grey. These wheels were identically sized to the pizza wheels, measuring 15x6.0" with a 40mm offset.

The next featured wheel, most often called the crab wheel, has a bit of variety to it. This name comes from the wheel's similarity to a crab... if the crab were finished in argent paint, viewed from directly above, and had 9 legs which were evenly spaced around its body. (Okay, it's a stretch. But the name has stuck.) This wheel had actually been introduced in the 1986 model year, where it was used on the Daytona Turbo Z CS. When so used, the wheel often (perhaps always) had a gold finish with the lip chromed. For 1987 the wheel was standard equipment on all Shadow ES and Daytona Shelby Z cars. Now, however, the wheel was finished in argent while the lip remained chrome polished. The crab wheel remained on the Shadow ES only through the end of the 1988 model year; it stayed on the Daytona Shelby Z only through the end of the 1988 model year as well. On the (new) Daytona CS, however, it was used from the 1988 model year all the way through 1991. While all crab wheels were 15" in diameter, it is important to note that those used on Shadows measured 6.0" wide whereas the Daytona version was 6.5" wide - this is because when used on a Daytona it wore wider 225/50 tires.

Next is another Shelby wheel, this one used exclusively on the 1987 Shelby Lancer. While the Shelby Lancer sales brochure refers to them as CSS wheels, people tend to just call them Lancer wheels (the Shelby part is usually understood). These wheels are one-piece cast aluminum but are designed to appear otherwise. They have black lace/spokes with a polished lip. There were centercaps bearing the unique Shelby CS logo, but the production car used caps which differ from the wheel in this picture. (I will update this picture with the correct one as soon as possible.) These wheels were 6.5 inches wide and had a 35mm offset.

Upon first glance, you may feel that I have made an error--this wheel was already shown, right? Not exactly. This is another Shelby wheel, different from the one pictured above. Called the Centurion II and used on the '87 GLHS and the '87 CSX, it is very similar to the original Centurion wheel used on the 1986 GLHS. The key difference is that the recesses (or 'fingers') now point in the opposite direction compared to the originals. As used on the '87 GLHS, the insets were not painted; on the '87 CSX the insets were painted black. Like the original Centurions, the Centurion II measured 15x6.0" and had a 40mm offset.

Here is a Dodge/Chrysler wheel with an unusual nickname, and I swear I am not making it up, the eggshell wheel. As it was explained to me, the half ovals around the edge look like eggshells. (I have also heard this one referred to as a sawtooth wheel and also the Pacifica wheel.) The face of the wheel is polished and the eggshell insets are argent; however, the wheel was often finished in white when used on a white car. This wheel was used by Dodge on the 87-89 Lancer Shelby; it was also featured on the 87-88 Daytona Pacifica, some Chrysler LeBaron GTS coupes and convertibles, and so on. It is 6.0" wide.

Next up is yet another Shelby wheel, this one is named the LeMans wheel. It was used only on the Shadow-based 1988 Shelby CSX-T, and it measured 6.5" in width but also had a 40mm offset. This unique combination of width and offset makes the LeMans wheels very desirable for race cars - 225s will typically fit with no clearance problems. As used on the CSX-T, the wheel's face was polished and the inserts were painted white to match the car. Note also that there are polished centercaps; these seem to frequently disappear from the cars over time. (Would-be CSX-T buyers, beware!) The centercap has been internally restyled a few times; the newer ones seem to stay fastened better.

Here we see one more member of Shelby's line, the Fiberide wheel. This wheel is unique in that it is made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, hence its name. This wheel was the winner of the Society of Plastic Engineers Award for "most innovative use of plastics." This material is stronger yet lighter than a comparable aluminum wheel and is quite exotic for a production car. The wheels were molded in a gold color; embossed into one spoke (and impossible to see in this small picture) is the SHELBY name. They measured 6.5" in width and had a 40mm offset.

Finally we return to a Dodge piece. This one is known as a pumper and was introduceded for the 1989 model year on the Shadow ES and Daytona Shelby. In both of these applications, they were 6.0" wide. However, the Shadow pumpers were 15" wheels while the Daytona pumpers measured 16" in diameter. In both applications, pumpers were used through the 1991 model year.

Here is another Dodge item, officially called the EuroCast wheel but frequently referred to as a snowflake wheel. The nickname derives from the similarity between this wheel and those paper snowflakes we all made with scissors in first grade. This wheel was introduced for the 1989 model year and was used on many Dodge vehicles including the Daytona, Spirit, and Caravan among others. The wheel was entirely painted white when used on white cars; otherwise it was normally finished in polished aluminum. Sometimes the inserts were painted to match other colors, however (like red, as in this particular picture). Measuring 6.0" wide, snowflakes were used through the 1991 model year.

This Dodge wheel is known as the ninja wheel. For 1992-1993 it was standard equipment on the Daytona IROC R/T and optional on the lesser V6 IROC. It was painted white when installed on white cars, otherwise it was finished in grey. In both cases the centerpiece remained black. This 16" wheel was cast aluminum and was 6.0" in width.

Another Dodge wheel, this one is called the turbo blade wheel. It was apparently featured only in 1992-1993 but was used on the Daytona, Spirit, and Shadow. Like the ninja wheel, the turbo blades were painted white when used on white cars and were otherwise grey. This was a 15" wheel and it measured 6.0" across. (I include this wheel because of its strange name and even stranger looks.)

This page was last modified on July 4th, 2001.