Iconic — adj. \ī-ˈkä-nik\ — widely recognized and
well-established; acknowledged for distinctive excellence

What are the most iconic brands in the automotive performance aftermarket?

We thought about that for a while and collected votes from thousands of hot rodders and performance enthusiasts on Summit Racing’s Facebook and Instagram in search of the answers.

The word “iconic” may mean different things to different people, but we chose to roll with the dictionary-based definition of the word.

Continuing the countdown to #1 is the brand you voted to the #5 spot on the list.

#5 — Cragar

You know you’ve reached iconic status when enthusiasts tattoo images of your product on their bodies and start naming children after your company.

That’s the case with Cragar—your #5 most iconic brand.

Cragar no doubt made this list because of its drag racing wheels, which took the drag racing world by storm in the 1960s. However, the Cragar story stretches way beyond the ’60s and gets rolling with speed parts instead of wheels. According to Howard Cook, sales manager for Cragar’s parent company, the Carlstar Group, Cragar got its start selling speed parts in 1930. The company name simply combined the first three letters of the founder’s first and last names.

Crane Gartz = Cragar.

Cragar was eventually purchased by Roy Richter in 1955 and cemented its reputation with drag racers in the mid-1960s. In 1964, Richter made his first custom wheel, which was designed for high speeds and extreme impact. This wheel was named the Cragar S/S and featured a strengthened five-spoke design connected to a chrome-plated steel rim. The design proved to be twice as strong as the standard wheels of the day. Car enthusiasts and drag racers flocked to Richter’s Southern California shop in the 1970s to get a set of Cragar S/S wheels. Eventually, these wheels would be found on more drag cars than any other brand.

“Maybe not the first five-spoke wheel ever made, but the Cragar S/S is certainly the most famous and the one that jumpstarted the aftermarket wheel industry,” said Alan Rebescher, PR/Media Relations for Summit Racing. “You weren’t nothin’ if you didn’t sport a set.”

Cragar’s role in motorsports helped further elevate the company’s status in the 1970s. In October 1970, Cragar became the world’s fastest wheels when a set of custom-designed Cragar wheels topped 622 miles-per-hour on the rocket-powered Blue Flame land speed car. In 1972, the Cragar Five-Second Club was created for the first 16 racers to eclipse the six-second elapsed-time mark in the quarter-mile. The Cragar name and its wheels became synoymous with drag racing.

Richter retired in 1983, but the company continued to develop new wheel styles. Today, you can still find that legendary S/S wheel on the street, at the strip—and yes, even on the tattooed skin of hardcore gearheads.

That’s how you make your mark!

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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.