Picture Me As “Superfly”
Her question: “What ever happened to Whitewall tires?”
As I looked at the other cars on the road there was not a Whitewall tire to be seen. I know that they were very fashionable and popular in the 1970s. They were on everything from the VW Bus to the Superfly Pimpmobiles. Gangster Whitewalls were the ultimate in flash and dazzle – but where and when did they all disappear?
An opportunity to do some horse’s mouth research presented itself yesterday. I had a flat tire. Once the ugly little donut tire was in place I looked at my other tires – Yikes! They all looked like they were ready for the scrap heap. It was time for new tires all the way around.
I went to one of the local “Tire Stores” down by The Mall. (In Terre Haute everything is down by The Mall.). After I had made the arrangements to sell myself into indentured servitude to pay for my new tires I tried to chat with the guy behind the counter. It was a slow day and he looked bored. Talking to guys like me all day wasn’t very stimulating. I figured that if anybody could clue me in on the whereabouts of all the Whitewall tires it would be him – a professional in the tire game. So, I asked him,
“Does anyone ever buy Whitewalls anymore?”
He looked at me, knitted his brow, stroked his chin, and answered,
It was then that I realized that he wasn’t bored.
I did learn that in the early 1900s Zinc Oxide was put on tires to make them wear better. As the science of tire making improved the white on the tires receded and passed into the category of stylish fashion.
Over the years Whitewalls came and went in and out of style. The last time that they were popular was in the 1970s. It has been more than forty years and we just noticed their absence. We would not make good witnesses.
They may not be in fashion right now, but all is not lost. I saw a footnote that said that Whitewall tires are an available option on some models of the new Tesla electric cars for 2019 or whenever they stop catching fire long enough to make it to the showroom floor.
Personally, I’ve always like Whitewalls. I think that they can add a little zippity do-dah to an otherwise bland car. Whitewalls are the only way to make some vehicles look like something other than unmarked police cars.
If I could have ordered them I would have gotten some Whitewalls for the Toyota. They wouldn’t make it look like anything but a small Toyota, but it couldn’t have hurt.