Michelin North America Inc. began a $1 million renovation on its "Uniroyal Giant Tire" landmark near Detroit, Mich., yesterday.
The 83-foot tall, 12-ton Uniroyal whitewall tire will receive an updated look, which will include the uniroyal.com Web site address in reflective lettering on the tire's exterior.
More than 30 steel beams inside the tire will be replaced. Also, the base of the tire will be rebuilt and repainted, and new asphalt and storm drains will be installed.
The renovation of the eight-story structure, along with new lighting, fencing and landscaping to the surrounding area, is expected to be completed by the end of October.
"The Giant Tire is an important symbol of Uniroyal's 111-year heritage and a cultural icon for the city of Detroit," says Tim Jamison, Uniroyal brand director. "This major renovation project will make a significant contribution to the city's I-94 revitalization efforts and ensure the Giant Tire remains a cherished landmark in Detroit for many years to come."
The tire has either advertised "U.S. Royal" or "Uniroyal" tires since it was assembled in the Detroit suburb of Allen Park in 1966 at a cost of $250,000. It is located adjacent to I-94, the Edsel Ford Expressway, close to the Metro Airport. Not surprisingly, pilots use the tire as a navigational tool.
The tire was created by the former U.S. Rubber Co. as a ferris wheel for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. More than two million people rode what was then known as the U.S. Royal Tires exhibit in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., including such notables as the former Jacqueline Kennedy and her children, Telly Savalas and the Shah of Iran.
When the World's Fair ended in 1965, the ride was dismantled, moved to Detroit and reassembled. Tread sections were added to hide the gondolas, which eventually were removed from inside the structure.
The tire sits on a 24-foot concrete and steel base imbedded more than 15 feet in the ground and capable of resisting hurricane-force winds without the need for exposed support wires.
The non-rubber tire is made of a flame-resistant, Uniroyal-developed Vibran polyester resin reinforced with glass fiber and coated with colored polyester. The tread sections are made of fiberglass.
Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and has been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993.