Sabre wheels were standard on Eldorados from 1955 to 1958 and optional on other models. These are not wheel covers, but actual wheels/rims. In my understanding sabre wheel are the successor for the spoke wheel rims that were used on eldos before 1955. Today they are highly desired amoung Cadillac collectors. They allow to add dignity to your classic cadillac (1955 to 1958) without to losing authenticity even if it’s not an eldo.
But watch out to buy the correct sabre wheels for your modell year. Read on for further information that lists the differences amount the production years.
GOLD # 38—-1955
GOLD # 39—-1956
CHROME # 40—-1957
CHROME # 41—-1958
1955 model year:
Kelsey Hayes 38612 “split rim” design – Chrome only.
Requires a spacer & longer studs for 1957-58 front wheels.
1956 model year:
Kelsey Hayes 39786 – 39787 – 39796 “clad rim” design. (wheel manufacturing process modified)
2 VERSIONS: Chrome (Cadillac Part Number 146 3918 AND Gold (Cadillac Part Number 146 5348).
Requires a spacer if used on 1957-58 front wheels.
1957-58 model years:
Kelsey Hayes 41098 “clad rim” design (slight wheel offset change required for larger 12″ front drums)
Chrome only (Cadillac Part Number 146 6798).
See more Sabre Wheels pictures in our gallery
Hint: Use tubes on your sabre rims to avoid losing air pressure through the rivets.
Please add your comment if you have found out other information or when you can add something to this article. I’ve seen sabrews on Cadillacs younger than 1958. Please report your experiences and also if you have replated/reanodised them. Thanks.
Here is a great article about the sabre wheels at HMN:
The Cadillac “saber” wheel is rare and tough to work with but the perfect match for one of history’s most revered cars
From the sole standpoint of spiffy shoes, Cadillac was already doing fabulously as the ’50s unfolded. Who, after all, can forget the 1953 Eldorado, one of the decade’s most glorious cars, with its authentic wire wheels, most typically wearing a set of Nebraska-wide whitewalls?
Cadillac decided in 1955 to take another stride by introducing an exclusive, model-specific line of dress-up wheels with a dramatic finned theme that incorporated a cast-aluminum center riveted to a steel rim, with a separate crested center cap. That was a highly unusual manufacturing technique 50-odd years ago, but then, this wheel, which came quickly to be known as the “saber,” was a unique piece. Today, it’s one of the most highly prized Cadillac accessories of the 1950s. Finding, and reviving, a set of sabers can exact a heavy price in both funds and physical effort.
The saber was offered by Cadillac from 1955 through 1958. It was standard equipment on all Eldorado models, and was also included as a standard item for the Series 75 in 1955 only. One of the unique foibles of Cad-dom in the middle ’50s was that in 1956, the Eldorado line was bifurcated. That year, the convertible Eldorado became known as the Eldorado Biarritz. The two-door hardtop version of the car, which was based, after a fashion, on a Motorama show car called the Cadillac Celebrity, was then named the Eldorado Seville. In 1956, Cadillac buyers could order the Eldorado with either the optional “silver” or “gold” packages, referring to the finish of the car’s scripting and its saber wheels. Today, saber wheels anodized in gold from that year are among the rarest Eldorado items extant.
This is a good place to make clear that there are actually two designs of saber wheels, one specifically for 1955 and 1956 Cadillacs, and one for cars built during 1957 and 1958. The wheels’ offsets differ, and they’re not directly interchangeable with one another.
To get smart about their care and feeding, we spoke to Elsa Nicodemus, owner of Cadillac restoration specialists FEN Enterprises in Wappingers Falls, New York. She explained to us that, “One of the greatest concerns you have with these wheels is that the center is made of aluminum, and they generally did not hold up very well. They’re very subject to both corrosion and pitting.” That said, the gold-anodized wheels appear to be more pit-resistant than the chrome units. Not only that, but replating chrome over the saber’s cast aluminum is a specific process and can be very costly, because the chrome has to be absorbed deeply into the texture and metallic structure of the aluminum casting. During a restoration, the rest of the wheel is typically finished in gray powdercoating, she said.
Her technician, Mark Senatore, told us, “The 1957 and 1958 wheels are by far the rarest, nearly impossible to find, and very expensive to find as a set.” Here at Hemmings, we’ve seen costs that can lead to spending close to $1,000 for a salvageable saber wheel, and a similar expenditure to refurbish it. Rather than searching for one at a swap meet, your best bet to find a set may be to contact a supplier like FEN that stocks restorable sabers. And even though they’re partly aluminum, sabers aren’t the easiest wheels to mount. We spoke to M. Roy Kahn of Pomona, New York, an authority on 1956 Cadillacs, and he laid it out for us:
“If you get a flat, especially if you’re a woman, it’s a real job,” he said. “These are not high-speed wheels and they’re very, very heavy, plus on these cars, the fenders are partly skirted so the wheel wells don’t open all the way. Without a cell phone, you can be in real trouble.”
This entry was originaly posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2005 and extended on April 20th, 2009.