Part 2: The Rimblades Years - by Rimblades Founder and Managing Director
Mar 30, 2021
At the time I started Rimblades I didn’t own a car. If you read part 1, you’ll know I’d had lots of cars, but everything had to go though to get Rimblades off the ground. In 2009 when I came up with the idea I was driving a modified Fiat 500 Ferrari edition and the 500 became part of the first Rimblades logo. But that got sold along with my 1972 Beetle and I bought a pushbike.
Anything that could be sold to raise cash was. I had an idea I believed in, so I cycled everywhere at first.
As we started producing samples though, I needed a car to test Rimblades on, so bought a very old Mazda MX5 (Miata) for £1000 and fitted a set of 18” wheels to it. The car was used to bash into many a kerb.
As sales increased and meetings all over the country were needed I got my first company car in January 2012. A Renaultsport Twingo RS133 with the cup chassis. I used this to test Rimblades Flex to the extremes and it was used in the Millbrook Rimblades tests. I even drove it to Paris for the Equip Auto show with yellow Rimblades fitted. Really loved that car and it was the first hot hatch I’d had in many years.
From this, I progressed to an orange Nissan 350Z, that I had lowered and fitted with black wheels and the white Rimbands. I recall enjoying my first drive from Taunton to our factory in Bude and back so much. First time I’d had driving pleasure like that since I’d had my Westfield in 2006. However, the running costs were not great, especially as a company car.
I’d read somewhere on the net that classic cars had lower BIK rates (this turned out not to be correct) and I was in a pub after Autosport International at the NEC sat on my own browsing eBay after a few beers when I started bidding on a low mileage Mercedes 190E. I won it and then set about making some modifications to that. I was surprised at how narrow it felt compared to modern cars and what confidence it gave you driving through country lanes, but it had obviously lived inside for many years and once exposed to the weather the thing started to rust fast and the paint bubbled.
Following the Merc, I had a red Mini that was used as the testing car for Rimblades Pro on a set of 18” Wolfrace rims and then whilst browsing eBay again and I found an early Smart Fortwo that had only covered 600 miles from new. I’d had a few Smarts over the years and always had fun in them. I lowered this one, fitted a full stainless exhaust and 17” rims with a set of bronze-gold Rimblades Scuffs.
This brings us up to 2016 where after a period in the Smart I was missing speed, so I got an Abarth 595 Trofeo. I can’t explain it, but that car I looked after more than any before it. I cherished it - I cleaned and polished it all the time. It was mint. I loved the way it drove. Not perfect, but it had character. I loved the way it looked. I loved the interior. I loved everything about it but it was useless for the company. We were doing more and more shows with Rimblades and I needed a tow bar, which was not a possibility on the Abarth.
Next up was a brand new Suzuki Jimny with a towbar fitted. We had a trailer to get the Rimblades and Rimsavers stand and stock to shows and the Jimny was cute like the Abarth. This time I fitted a 2” lift kit and bigger wheels and tyres and a set of orange RimSavers, Stainless sidebars and a stainless exhaust. I’d only owned it for 6 months and at the time Suzuki Jimny’s were in short supply. The dealership offered me a lot more money for it than I’d bought it for new, so it seemed foolish not to let it go back to them for a profit that covered the costs of the mods.
I was missing the speed of the Abarth, to be honest anyway. At the time my wife had been driving a Nissan Juke on 22” rims and it was time to change that up anyway so we got her a VW Transporter that I could borrow for shows and I got the new Suzuki Swift Sport. I was surprised at how well it drove. It was like the Abarth, but the drive was more civilised. I couldn’t leave it alone though. It was lowered, I changed the wheels and fitted red Rimsavers, along with an HKS exhaust, HKS induction kit and had it chipped adding an extra 30BHP. It drove great, but I just didn’t connect with it like the Abarth. There was nothing wrong with the car except I didn’t love it.
It was now 2019 and Rimblades had moved into a bigger industrial unit and I had some space. I was getting that itch for an air-cooled Volkswagen again (see part 1). It had been ten years without one, but I was now developing a new rim protector brand and convinced myself the brand needed a show car, so with the help of some friends set out to build one. I needed something to haul parts around and wanted to change the Swift, so took advantage of the van BIK and got a Ford Ranger 3.2 Wildtrack. I put a 2” lift kit on this, stainless sidebars, a set of 20” rims with white Rimblades Pro fitted.
The bug was to be a fenderless VolksRod pick up to really show the wheels off. So much work went into it and it wasn’t far from being finished when Covid 19 struck. Like most people running a business, I was unsure how we’d be affected or even if we’d still have a business on the other side. I tentatively put it up for sale not knowing if there would be any interest in the current climate, but it got snapped up immediately.
However, in hindsight, I so wished I’d never sold the VolksRod like I wish I’d never sold the Abarth.
In the autumn of 2020, I was browsing eBay again and found a VW Baja Bug built in the theme of the Empi Inch Pincher drag race beetle from the 1970’s. I bought it unseen, then set about bringing the rest of the car up to the standard of the paint by replacing the whole interior, engine and fitting a great set of American Racing wheels with our new Rimfinity rim protectors. The Baja was then professionally photographed by GunHill Studios and accepted as a show car for SEMA to promote the new brand.
Having done its job, the Baja has now gone and it’s been replaced by that thing I felt was missing in my life - an Abarth. A limited-edition Scorpioneoro, of course with a set of red Rimblades Rimsavers fitted. The only thing missing in my life now is an outlaw 356 Speedster!