Did the original movie, "The Fast and the Furious," start the euro tuner craze back in 2001? No, but it certainly exploited the trend. Along the way, it helped promote the Toyo brand, which was featured (but not credited) in the movie and its less-than-successful sequels.

"Fast & Furious," the fourth movie in the franchise, held its world premiere in Universal City, Calif., on March 12. I was fortunate enough to attend the event with Richie Betz, CEO of Reliable Tire Co. He was in town as a member of Continental Tire North America Inc.'s business council; I was on hand to test the new Continental ExtremeContact DW and DWS ultra-high performance tires.

Not coincidentally, Continental supplied Continental and General UHP and light truck tires to the movie's producers.

Betz told me his son, Shawn, believed that screen time would do for Continental and General what the first movie did for Toyo. He should know: The younger Betz is vice president of performance tires and wheels for Reliable.

So, did the movie deliver? Yes. If you recognize tread patterns, both brands, more specifically the ContiSportContact and General Grabber lines, received plenty of "face" time -- when they weren't being punished during the numerous driving scenes (hey, it was a car movie, afterall).

There was even a mention of one of the brands in the movie. Early in the film, star Vin Diesel said he was looking for a car with Continental tires!

That was an unexpected bonus, according to Travis Roffler, Continental's director of marketing, who had not seen the movie prior to the premiere.

There is some good word-of-mouth buzz about the movie, which opens nationwide on April 3. That bodes well for Shawn Betz and for Continental, which says its UHP tire sales were up 16% last year (the overall UHP replacement tire market in the United States was up 3.6%).

While the tuner market as we know it may be passé, enhancing vehicle performance is still going strong. In the UHP tire segment, growth may not be fast and furious anymore, but it is at least moving forward at a steady pace.

Author

Bob Ulrich
Bob Ulrich

Editor, Retired

Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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Editor Bob Ulrich has earned a reputation as an industry expert thanks to his insightful, in-depth articles and blogs on the tire industry. Before joining Modern Tire Dealer in 1985, Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University. Also, he graduated from the University of Akron School of Law with a J.D.

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