Modern Tire Dealer Celebrates 75 Years of Excellence: Same game, fewer players

July 16, 2015

Times have changed in the tire industry in the 75 years we have been publishing a magazine.

In the first issue of what was then called Tires & Accessories in August 1919, a tire and tube price list included the names of 131 manufacturers, most of whom are only memories now. 

It also included some still-familiar names, among them Continental, Dayton, Dunlop, Falls, Firestone, General, Goodyear, Kelly-Springfield and Michelin. 

But there were also companies with names such as Dreadnaught Tire & Rubber Co., Hawkeye, Kokomo and Zee Zee. 

And most of the 131 names on the list were of U.S. companies. 

Today there are only 14 firms producing tires in the U.S., and of those there are the amalgamations of Bridgestone/Firestone, Continental/General, Yokohama/Mohawk, Michelin/Uniroyal Goodrich, Pirelli/Armstrong and the joint venture plant of General/Toyo/Yokohama. 

Then, tire prices ranged from $12.55 for the smallest tire listed (size 28x3) produced by Lancaster Tire & Rubber Co., to $236.65 for a 40x8 from Portage Rubber Co. 

Today MTD research shows that the average price for current popular size P195/75R14 is now $60.60, and an 11R24.5 truck tire goes for $319.95. 

(However, we all know that with tire price wars today’s consumer can buy a steel-belted P155/80R13 for as little as $5.95 in some parts of the country.) 

What were the high-tech tread descriptions of 1919? 

Well, there was the non-skid, anti-skid and neverslip. There was wave & rib, squeegee, vacuum, traffik, zig-zag, cog, daisy — and even worm drive. 

Tube paces ranged from $2.50 for a 30x3 “Ton-Tested Gray Tube” from Pennsylvania Rubber Co. to $30.80 for a 40x8 gray tube from Portage. 

Today, the average price for a truck tire tube is about $35. 

In 1919, tubes were offered in black, red, gray, brown, antimony red and evergreen —and in cord and fabric. 

There was also heavy tourist, rust-pruf, puncher- proof (sic) and ton-tested. 

Today’s names are not quite as descriptive — perhaps because most descriptive terms have already been used. 

But with the Aquatred and the Blizzak, modem tire buyers still get the idea.