Geek Trivia: What Color Were Early Automobile Tires?

Geek Trivia

What color were the first car tires?

Which of these common idioms was originally an advertising slogan?


A first advertisement featuring the Michelin man
Public domain

Answer: white

While it's easy to assume that the deep black color of modern tires was just the color that tires have always been, the older tires had a completely opposite color. Before the introduction of carbon black as a preservative and reinforcer in the early 20th century, the tire rubber was a semi-translucent white that looked a lot like a rubber eraser.

It is also for this reason that the Michelin man, emblematic mascot of the Michelin tire manufacturer – seen here in one of his first iterations – was represented in white, a color as far as possible from the black of 39 ink modern tires.

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