The SHELBY AMERICAN
Spring 2016 6
BLACK WHEELS MATTER
SHOW ‘N GO OR SNOW ‘N BLOW ?
Last issue’s item about all-black
“Gangsta Wheels” was definitely food
for thought, and it got a lot of people
thinking. Peter Brock was one of them.
Here’s his email.
are a message of taste the car’s owner
presents to the viewer. Obviously this
recent all black wheel trend is in an-
swer to the fully polished “mag”
wheels we see on every “bling” mobile
that’s hoping (very belatedly) to be
seen as having some performance lin-
eage. As the late, great Yankee catcher,
Yogi Berra used to say, “Nobody goes
there anymore ‘cause it’s too crowded.”
“Team Cobras ran real mag
wheels which were difficult to keep
polished, as magnesium oxidized
quickly, but it was a matter of pride to
the Shelby crew to keep the RIMS pol-
ished! The centers where painted
white, primarily after 1964, for identi-
fication on circuits like Reims where
the blue and white cars could be seen
at a great distance but were difficult
to tell one from another. Before that
change in livery to Guardsman Blue
for 1965, the center portions got black-
ened by brake dust and oxidation.
They looked so ill kept it was decided
to paint just the centers, but keep the
rims polished as a matter of pride.
Since wheel design is such an impor-
tant part of identifying a car’s era (on
Cobras, it’s Halibrand “Kidney Beans”
vs later “Sunbursts”), allowing the
centers on mag wheels to oxidize to
black indicates an owner’s lack of in-
terest, both in the car’s presentation
and labor required to keep the centers
clean. Sure, brake dust is a pain in the
ass, but it isn’t good for the wheel ma-
terial either. My opinion of all-black
wheels is about the same as a beauti-
ful girl with bad teeth.
Keep those rims polished!
” – Peter
Lee Cross of Kennett Square, Pennsyl-
vania sent us a photo demonstrating
how versatile his ‘65 GT350, 5S547, is.
When a record snowstorm blanketed
the northeast in the middle of Janu-
ary, with coverage measured in feet in-
stead of inches, Cross needed a vehicle
to hitch to his four-foot wide snow
blower. The Shelby was a little light in
the rear but filling the trunk with 50-
lb. bags of sand solved that problem.