Recently I happened to spot a late model Bland-mobile sporting a set of whitewall tires. Not the giant whites found on cars into the late 50s-more like the whitewalls found on any upscale car in the 60s and 70s.
The new model vehicle had an instant look-at-me quality…the same one found in loud obnoxious children and women with a newly enhanced chest.
Frankly, the brats annoy me, but I like the new look on most women and I liked the new look on the car.
Since this is primarily a car site I will talk about the car. Most new cars have a lot of paint and a minimal amount of chrome. Whitewall tires add an extra dimension to the new cars for this reason.
It is true that we have entered a new world of low profile tires that have less side- wall, but there are always retro-fit possibilities for an ambitious owner. The result is subtle but spectacular, because few car owners will steer down this retro-path, despite the instant curb appeal.
Maybe it’s my age showing, but I do come from an era when four whitewalls on your dad’s car meant that the family chariot was a slightly upscale version of every other car in the neighborhood.
Whitewall envy was a common affliction for me because my father was an ultra-practical guy whose car was a work tool that got a lot of miles put on it. He was a heart and soul car guy, but whitewall tires were a big ticket item for a guy with a large family and countless other ways to spend his salary.
He lived long enough to bask in the glory of a whitewall– tired car later in life when he owned a mid-70s car and could splurge a little on himself.
A while back, I took an old pickup truck into a tire shop to get some tires put on the old rust bucket. I had bought whitewalls for the old brute, but the shop turned the tires around and showed the black-wall side.
The counter guy just assumed that I wanted them that way. He was even surprised at the question because the truck was not pretty and the whitewall idea seemed odd to him.
Since the guy was probably still in diapers when the 60s ended, I didn’t pursue the issue. Whitewall tires were probably as foreign to him as a duck-ass haircut was to me.
But I will always like whitewalls on cars. And I really believe that whitewalls will help a new vehicle stand out in a crowd.
Maybe even enough to recover it if some lowlife steals it.
Jim Sutherland @mystarcollectorcar.com
Much, much more about vintage rides can be found on our site…https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/
RYAN:”whitewall tires are pretty cool, but I must say… only a hand full of modern cars can get away with it. I saw a PT cruiser with white walls, and retro dog dish hubcaps, and it looked pretty good, however I saw somebody throw whitewalls on an ugly 09 Dodge Caliber… it looked terrible, and made the ugliest car in dodge’s lineup look even worse…I really like Dodges other cars though”.
DENNIS:”Back in the day”, all car tires were white, then the black tires came out. Then, the only cars that had white walls were the Packard’s and the Caddy’s. The cars owned by the “big shots” and the movie actors. After the war (WW2 for you youngsters), you began to see them on the “Ozzie & Harriet” cars. By the late 50’s, there had to be ‘something wrong with you’ if your car didn’t have white walls. White walls and “spinner” hub caps got along for a while, Then the fancy rims started showing up. I think that was what sealed the fate of the white walls”.
ANGUS:”… a long time passing.
Last car we owned that looked good in white walls was that ’81 Chevy Impala. I remember dad having me scrub them with a stiff brush every time we washed it. Since then I wouldn’t think of putting them on a new car – white letters maybe not white walls. Although they look good on the ‘77 Newport”.
ROBERT:”The piece on white walls and modern air conditioning reminded me when I had crager super sports put on my 1968 Oldsmobile 442 I coundn’t decide if I wanted the BF Goodrich raised white letters showing or turned inside. I had the tires remounted three times before I finally decided with all the chrome the black walls looked best. Although they looked good the other way. Here we go again?”