Long before the ugly crime of carjacking made the scene, juveniles indulged in the much more innocent pursuit of stealing hubcaps. Back then, if a kid lifted a cap or two off your car, you’d simply head out to the local junkyard and pick out a pair of replacements after sifting through a large array of stock. But today, at Hubcaps Unlimited, 4262 S. Howell Ave., you can simply walk in and pick out what you want from a neatly arranged display of hubcaps and wheelcovers. There are imports, domestic, new, used; whatever the ride requires, the store is likely to have it. One wall sports the latest in designs, while on the opposite wall there’s a variety of spiffed up, reconditioned stock waiting for a car to adopt it. Store owner Rick Dynek got started in the wheelcover biz 11 years ago. He’s been at this present location for six years, and before that ran the operation out of his garage. His store, which sells only hubcaps and wheel cover, is run with the help of his wife, Cynthia, and employee Joe Tice. His dog, Frosty, helps watch over things. “It’s a different business today,” Dynek said. “Over 70% of the new caps, and all the imports are made of plastic and nylon, which actually has a longer life than the chrome-steel covers, which eventually rust. “Most of the time a customer comes in looking for a front right cover because they lost it hitting a curb. The might be embarrassed to admit that and instead say someone stole it, but usually that’s not the case.” Here in Wisconsin the winters can be brutal on a car’s wheels. Hubcaps originally were designed to protect the area where lug nuts connect the wheel to the car’s axle, but the newer covers protect the entire wheel surface from dirt and road debris. “In Wisconsin, wheels get eaten up faster because of the road salt and winters,” Dynek said. “If you drive in these parts, your car will definitely go through more hubcaps during its life.” Customers can have their caps installed free of charge. And Dynes says its prices are as much as 40% less than a dealer would charge. “Senior citizens like the fact that they can pick out a wheel cover and have it installed right here on the spot with no added charge,” Dynek says. “Otherwise, they may go to a dealer, pay for a set of new covers and then realize that there’s an added charge for installation.” The store specializes in covers made from 1978 to the present and in imports, which sometimes are hard to come by. “We have over 20,000 covers in stock, and we ship anywhere in the country,” Dynek said. Dynek said one time a visitor from the Virgin Islands stopped in the shop and bought a set of aftermarket covers. He said no such covers existed back home. A month later, the man called the shop from the islands and said a friend of his had seen the caps and just had to have a set for himself; price was of no concern. Dynek shipped the caller a set via Federal Express. “The shipping charge was more than the actual covers, but he wanted them, so he got them,” Dynek said. The shop also carries covers for trucks and recreational vehicles. These sometimes are hard to find. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. You can give the shop a call at 769-0039.