As the story goes, once there was a time, long ago, before cast-aluminum wheels became standard equipment for new automobiles; a time when decorative hubcaps were coveted and their acquisition was sport.
According to my folks who were teens in the ’50s, for occasions when hubcaps needed to be popped in a hurry, the job was best done at night in the dark, and a tire iron was the popular popper of choice. Not only could the multi-purpose tire iron remove a hubcap quickly, the same tool in hand could also help to ensure a clean getaway with the goods. Although it got the job done, the trusty tire iron was rather unkind to painted, and/or chrome-plated wheels, however. The business end of the tool was sharp, so it usually left an incriminating blemish on the hubcap’s outer edge—as if to tell the world you’ve shopped at “Midnight Auto Supply”.
In current times it’s difficult to believe that the “pull rod” was once an acceptable tool of the autobody trade. Does anyone remember, “punch ’n’ pull?” Since the development of sophisticated electric stud guns, this ol’ tool is no longer likely to be used by autobody professionals. Even so, pull rods are still available through Summit Racing Equipment; so let’s talk about their alternative function, as a handy hubcap popper.