Tire News & Information

Whitewall tires: History & purchasing

Last updated 10/14/2022 - Originally published 9/23/2020
Written by SimpleTire

You won't find whitewall tires on many vehicles today, but some auto enthusiasts demand them for style. For instance, drivers that own vintage cars and are trying to maintain a classic look. For example, could you imagine a 1955 Ford Thunderbird truly complete without a set of whitewall tires?

Whitewall tires, also known as white sidewall (WSW) tires, are still manufactured for the sake of vintage automobiles, although in relatively small numbers. They can also be mounted on modern cars, but they aren't commonly used.

A Brief History of Whitewall Tires

Since the pneumatic, or air-filled, tire became the standard for automobiles, the rubber used in them has been black. That meant that the whole tire was black. During the 1920s, some tire manufacturers developed tires intended to look more luxurious. Those tires were whitewall tires. Because they stood out from all the black tires on the road, whitewall tires exploded in popularity during the 1920s and 1930s.

This trend continued into the '40s, '50s, '60s, and even the '70s as whitewall tires carried a sense of classic style. However, the difficulty of maintaining whitewall tires and their higher prices led to a decline in their popularity throughout the 1980s.

Purchasing Whitewall Tires

Despite their rarity, there are a variety of whitewall tires available for purchase. They're made to fit everything from classic autos to contemporary cars that look better with a set of white walls. When purchasing whitewall tires, bear in mind their intended use. They're meant for looks, not high performance. If you expect to drive for long distances, at high speeds, or in consistently bad weather, you should consider skipping whitewall tires.

If you want help finding whitewall tires that are a fit for your vehicle and your driving style, contact SimpleTire. Our tire experts on standby can help match you with whitewalls that will give you the look and performance you want and need.

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