The first hubcaps were built for function over fashion. Early vehicles had wooden spoke wheels that connected the outer steel rim to the center hub, holding the bearing. Engineers needed a cover for this central part so designers rolled out a small brass cap for the hub. Cadillac shifted the focus to style in 1934 when carmakers completely covered the now wire spokes with a stainless steel disc. These transitioned into full-sized “wheel covers” that quickly became a symbol of cruising in style. In fact, so many Cadillac wheel covers were stolen in the 1940s and 50s that the practice became known as “hub capping.” Today, hubcaps provide both purpose and personality.