Antique Tires: Whitewalls, Redlines, Bias Plies and the places to get them

TIRE GUYPart 1 of our article on antique tires discusses the origins of modern tires and the difference between radials and bias ply. Therefore, when you have made your decision between radials and bias ply, you can start to look at some really cool options.

There are manufacturers and distributors that deal in antique or nostalgia tires. Therefore, whether you want blackwalls, whitewalls or Redlines, you can source them from many channels.

The Places To Get Them

Antique tires are available from specialty dealers and sometimes referred to as nostalgia tires. You can research them online if you like. (If you've got some heavy duty research to do, you might find Search It! quite useful.)

Whitewalls and Redlines are still very popular on classic and antique cars and bikes, as well as some new "retro" productions. Heck, I even saw a scooter with Whitewalls just the other day!

Some of the major players in the manufacture and distribution of antique tires are specialty companies like Diamond Back Classics, Coker Tire, Lucas Classic Tires and Vogue Tyre Company (spelled "tyre" because it's a British company). They can help with nostalgia and antique tires for not just cars, but bikes, trucks and even tractors.

All of these companies have very helpful websites, or you can contact them by phone if you need to. (I've saved a bundle using  Jajah for international calling.)

Whitewall And Redline Tires

As what was once old becomes new again, it has become easier to source quality antique and classic components and accessories for your car, bike or truck. I have my own classic muscle car that currently runs on big diameter, 20 inch wheels with low-profile rubber, but I know it would look awesome with a set of 15-inch chrome wheels and whitewalls or redlines.

I have seen some very suspect ways to get cheap whitewalls. From the guy on You Tube grinding away the sides of his old tires to the cheap kits online that involve a spay can. I am sure they all look great from a distance, but close inspection of these sort of shabby methods always disappoints. Buy a whitewall from a tire dealer; do not try to make one in your backyard.

So who came up with the idea of a whitewall, anyway? Originally, tires were made with white rubber. However, when the white rubber could not provide the traction and durability desired by consumers and manufacturers, carbon black was added to the rubber on the treads. From this, whitewalls were created.

Whitewalls were at their most popular during the pre and postwar era, and then resurfaced in the 1970's. I have seen some great looking classic, vintage and muscle cars with whitewalls. I have also seen some awesome bikes and light trucks with them.

But how to decide between redlines and whitewalls? Redline Radials are making a comeback; constructed from modern materials they look great for that "Hot Wheels" look. There is nothing like a classic GTO or Vette with a set of redlines.

Whatever you decide now is a great time to own a classic or antique vehicle.


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