Where Can You Buy a Tire for $11.90?! It's Not 'Where,' but 'When'

Bob Ulrich
Posted on March 22, 2018
Look at that sexy tread pattern!
Look at that sexy tread pattern!

I love it when I'm looking through an old magazine and find a tire advertisement. It's interesting in so many ways, from the tread pattern to who is selling the tire. However, the most fun is checking out the price of the tire.

In "The Detroit News" television program listings from Aug. 6-12, 1961 (hey, I like old TV shows; I'm a baby boomer), there is a clearance sale for discontinued tires, billed as "1960 models." The ad says, "Must be sold to make room for 1961 stock!" Now that's taking inventory turns seriously.

The tires in question? Kelly Safe Trac, size 6.70-15 "White Walls." The price for the "rayon tube-type" tire? $11.90 each! (Plus tax and the old tire.)

Of course, 14- and 15-inch nylon tube-type and tubeless were available at "slightly" higher prices.

The 6.70-15 bias is the equivalent of a 195/70R15 today. That is no longer a popular size, and there is no Kelly tire available in it (there is a 195/70R14, however). I did find a General Grabber HD highway all-season tire in size 195/70R15 Load Range C for $119.60 on the Tire Rack website.

The comparative applications are not apples to apples, but based on the inflation rate, $11.90 in 1961 would equal $99.12 today. That set of four Kelly Safe Tracs in 1961 compared to a set of Grabber HDs today would still be less expensive, $396.48 vs. $478.40.

The ad, by the way, was from Belle Tire Distributors Inc., one of the largest tire dealers in the country. Belle Tire is based in Allen Park, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, which explains its newspaper ad in "The Detroit News."

At the time, Belle Tire was the "headquarters for foreign and sports car tires, seconds-blemishes and take-offs," and could be reached by phone at TE 4-8660!

Related Topics: Belle Tire, consumer tire advertising, General Grabber HD, history, inflation rate, tire pricing

Bob Ulrich Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • See all comments
  • Rob G.

     | about 15 days ago

    That General tire is actually an 8-ply. The C after the size (195/70R15C) means it is a "Cargo" tire; a European designation for extra-heavy-duty small van tires. I hate to correct an expert, but thought it would be good to note! I think an article about "Cargo" tires would be great since they're becoming so popular (Ford Transit, Sprinter, Promaster, etc.) That being said, I think the Kelly is a cooler tire :)

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