Adding something that gives a classic motor car a bit more bling without tarnishing its original styling makes for a special day, as Gizmag's Aaron Turpen recently found out. After outfitting a 1965 Dodge Dart GT with new wheels, he added RimBlades to them and showed everything off in a local parade.
RimBlades are wheel protectors that attach to the edge of a car's wheels to prevent scuffing and scraping against the curb. The product is reportedly easy to install and comes in various color choices to match just about any vehicle. As luck would have it, my friend Rob Stevens had just added new polished steel wheels on his 1965 Dodge Dart GT Convertible and adding the RimBlades seemed like a perfect match — and a way to test out the product's claims.
Dodge introduced the Dart in 1960 as a way to compete with its in-house rival, Plymouth, and with the emerging small cars of the era from other Detroit makes. A second and then third generation of the car were quickly introduced over the next three years. The third generation hit the automotive market in 1963 and by 1965, the design had solidified itself as a comfortable, dependable, and economical car.
Of the models made in 1965, the GT with a convertible top is one of the most coveted. That same year, a special-edition Dodge Dart Charger was introduced as a yellow coupe and would become the legendary Dodge Charger the following year.
The vehicle used to test the RimBlades has the original 225 cubic in (3.7-l) slant-six engine that outputs 235 hp (175 kW) through a four-speed manual transmission.
Once the RimBlades are installed, the 1965 Dart is pulled out into the open to get the sunlight on the car for a closer inspection
The optimized 111-in (2.8 m) wheelbase of the 1965 Dart meant that engines ranging in size and output from 170 cubic inches (2.8-liters) to a huge 273 cubic inch (4.5-liter) V8 were possible without ruining the balance of the car. With its 225, this Dart GT Convertible routinely returns 30 mpg (7.8 l/100 km) on the highway, well ahead of the norm for the average car in 1965.
The new wheels were installed on the car with new tires just before it was stored away for the winter last year. When the RimBlades arrived, the car was still hiding in the back of a shed awaiting better weather.
We'd watched the videos of the installation process and were dubious about how easy it looked.
We first used dust rags to get the storage dust off the wheels and then used the included cleaning product (which comes in little wipes) to clean the edges of the wheels where the RimBlades would be installed. We then applied the included prep product. A full RimBlades kit contains the cleaning and prep products and a roll of RimBlades measuring 7.6 m (about 25 ft) in length. On the 14-in wheels the Dart sports, this was enough product to cover all four wheels with enough left to do two more. So a set of large wheels of 24-in and more would be accommodated with one kit. The kit costs £29.99 (US$39.95) plus shipping.
We then tested the RimBlades in a dry fit to see which side would work best for the type of wheel used on the Dart. The product has two edges. One is designed to accommodate a wheel with a large lip where it meets the tire, creating a deeper groove. The other is smaller for more shallow lips. Another product is made specifically for flat-edge ("flush") wheel edges.
Careful application required about 15 minutes per wheel (with the wheels still on the vehicle). One person can do it alone, but it's a bit easier with two, as one can apply the RimBlades around the wheel as the other follows behind to press it firmly into place for a good stick. The adhesive on the RimBlades is the same one used to install wheel weights for balancing, so it's fast-acting and hard-bonding, but shouldn't leave residue or marks when removed properly.
Once installed, the RimBlades are designed to take the brunt of a scrape if the wheel is curbed, saving the wheel itself from damage, and can be removed and replaced as needed.
For the next few weeks, the RimBlades resided on the Dart as it was driven around town and for weekend cruises. Then the real test came, escorting the grand marshals of the parade held annually by the little town of Albin, Wyoming. The Dart with its new RimBlades has driven on dirt roads, highways, and around town for approximately 100 miles (161 km) in all. There has been no peeling or loss of adhesion in that time.