Stock Wheel Restoration
We have established that Stockton Wheel in California can restore Machine wheels to the point were the trim rings will fit after restoration. No other company has been found that can be proven to do that. We were going to do a run with Diamond Racing Wheel but the trim rings would not have fit afterwards. Bill at Diamond will not restore any Machine wheels without a run of at least 24 wheels.
Stockton will take our wheels one set at a time. Cost to restore each wheel was as of 2018 at $180 per wheel wheel plus shipping.
What you get back is a repaired set of wheels that have been sandblasted and are ready for paint. That can mean your wheels need to be sandblasted again once you get them back depending on how humid the weather has been while your wheels are in transit.
Stockton Wheel Service Inc. can be reached at 1-800-395-9433
The big deal is that the Machine wheel centres are 13 1/8" across the back where every other styled steel wheel was 13 1/4" across the back. That means that no stock hoop will fit our wheel centres without the addition of an extra band of metal between the wheel centre and the new hoop (rim). To make matters infinitely worse, the outside edge of the face side of the rim was rolled to form a continuous bead around the wheel. That bead is primarily what held the trim rings on. Without it they fall off. So the fact that Stockton's rims work is nearly a miracle.
When complete, the finished wheel will look like the one shown to the above but with much less sheen. It will not be shiny. It should have the same texture to your touch as 180 grit sandpaper. That means you don't put clear coat over the wheels after you paint them.
To paint the rims, first paint the rims front and back with Trim Black, a very low gloss finish. The original rims were not painted inside the hoop which meant they eventually rusted along the beads causing slow leaks. Use your own judgement on that.
At some point after the 1970 model year these rims were painted silver front and back before the final finish was added to the face of the wheels. So if your wheels have a silver finish on the back, you'll want to change that for a stock look unless it's a Javelin AMX you're restoring.
The Centre Caps
Unless you have your original straight wall centre caps, your only alternative short of getting exceptionally lucky or having much deeper pockets than most to enable you to convince someone to sell you theirs is to either buy 2nd run curved wall centre caps if you can find them or buy incorrect plastic reproductions of those from AJ (Andre Jacobs).
He carries the cap retainers as well:
You can contact AJ at
30115 Hwy. 281N #126
The resolution isn't good here but the original magazine ad clearly shows a GM style of trim ring. Another interesting detail you can see in this shot is that the 1/4" wide key line stripe between the Electric Blue and the Frost White paint is black instead of the production run silver.
The 1970 Rebel Machine came with newly styled steel wheels made by Kelsey-Hayes specifically made for AMERICAN MOTORS CORPORATION. They were for the times both innovative and regressive due to their for the time innovative design.
The wheels were introduced on THE MACHINE as standard equipment and were 15" X 7" with E60-15 Goodyear Polyglass tires with raised white lettering on the side walls fitted on them.
The finish was a metal coating featuring a fine grit and a little metallic metal flake to add dimension to the finish. This finish has never been duplicated exactly by anyone. So wheels still sporting their original finish are rare.
These wheels were also optional on 1970 AMXs and Javelins.
In 1971, THE MACHINE was no longer a distinct model, it was an option on the new Matador. The option included the Rebel Machine intake, but no hood scoop. The exhaust manifolds had been updated to a free flow style that looked like and performed like a set of headers, so the special Machine exhaust manifold had been superseded. Nothing else was Machine specific.
Again for 1971; the AMX model was gone, replaced by a new (2nd generation) Javelin body. AMX was an option and one of those options was the Machine wheel.
The fact that more models than just the Machine meant that as years passed more Machine wheels survived than would have been the case if only the one model had worn them. Even so, there were differences between the original Machine wheels and the subsequent issues.
The wheel had three significant design features:
1. The trim ring was permanently attached to the wheel. That meant you could not lose the trim ring. It also made the wheel harder to balance correctly. Since the trim ring say away from the wheel rim, dirt and gravel could collect between the rim and the back of the trim ring. That soon put the wheels out of balance in areas where there were gravel roads, snow, ice and salt. This stuff tended to build up and could not be removed. Eventually the rims rusted out around the edges unless the car was stored in winter months especially.
2. The five prominent slots were an adaptation from auto racing and from practical experience. They were meant to catch cool air and direct it to the front disc brakes and the rear drums to prevent a condition called brake fade. It must have worked because no Machine I've ever heard of suffered from brake fade. Other manufacturers' muscle cars were not so lucky. Rebel Machines were grudgingly acknowledged to have the best brakes of any domestic vehicle in 1970.
3. The rims were one inch wider than any previous wheel on AMC cars and thus provided more traction with the right tire.
The Machine Acorn Wheel Nuts
Even the wheel nuts on a Machine are special. They are 3/4" socket size where those of other manufacturers are 13/16". In addition, there is no bulge at the bottom as featured on all other similar nuts. Only one company sells them now and that is:
Year One Muscle Car Parts
Since we weren't able to come anywhere close to 400 wheels to restore, the company that did offer to remanufacture the wheels with the correct sized rims (hoops) without having to add an extra band of metal to the wheel centres before mounting the hoops as well as re-popping the trim rings and the centre caps won't be doing that. We couldn't come close. Not enough cars left needing wheel restoration.
To remove your trim rings, just work around the edges of the rim very carefully with a sharp carpet knife. The rings are press fit into the rim and are held in place by a rolled lip which is unique to the Machine wheel and the reason they are such difficult rims to restore. The fact that Stockton Wheel can restore the rims and have the original trim rings fit is why they are the restorer of choice for the wheels.
If you have trim rings that need restoring in whatever state, your best bet as tested by several owners is this company:
Finishing Touch Metal Restoration,
5580 N Northwest Hwy.,
Everyone who has used them has been very impressed. They are very pricey though.
If you don't have trim rings then you're left with using 15" GM style trim rings that fit on over the lip of the wheel. They are still available new from GM.
The prototype Machine used this same type of trim ring as it was apparently used for promotional photography before the trim rings were out of development.
Unfortunately, the stock tire on a Machine was far from the right tire - at least it was if you cared about traction in just about any extreme usage situation. To get maximum traction at the back wheels the tires had to be inflated to 10 psi beyond the recommended tire pressure moulded into every tire's sidewall. At 45 psi, the entire tread width made contact with the pavement. At 35 psi, only the outer half inch at the base of the sidewalls actually touched the ground leaving two thin lines on the pavement for each tire after a hard launch.
Goodyear Polyglass tires were not a popular replacement tire for any muscle car at the time and literally vanished from the cars they were supplied with as they wore out - which as you can imagine didn't take very long on a muscle car.
E-60s were mounted at all four corners on Rebel Machines and were the widest it was safest to use on the front because wider tires tended to rub on the ball joints during jumps or drifting.
In modern times the rubber compounds have changed and the compounds have become stickier for all tires from the muscle car era. You know that because cars such as the 426 semi cars and the 440s which were running 14.6 and 14.7 in pure stock then are running in the 11s now.
You can find these tires at Goodyear Performance Tires. Phone Number 1-760-731-8303 or you can just google the name of the company.
Of course you can buy the stock tires for the front and up to L60s for the back on stock 7" wide rim but if you want to race Pure Stock, then all the tires have to be the same size regardless of manufacturer.