Colorful tires with lights inside? Sounds crazy, but this eccentric car fad isn’t from the 21st century. In fact, these wild automotive accessories are more than 60-years-old!
In the early 1960s, public interest in the “world of tomorrow” was at an all time high and manufacturers were quick to act. In 1962 a Goodyear chemist named William Larson lead a project to use a new material, neothane, to build a colorful, translucent tire that light up the night roads thanks to 18 lights built inside the wheel.
“Goodyear’s translucent tire can be produced in any color to match the car…or perhaps the wife’s new outfit,” Goodyear’s development manager John J. Hartz said in 1962. ”Someday a wife may tell a husband: ‘Charlie, go out and change the tires. I’m wearing my blue dress tonight.”
Goodyear outfitted a handful of cars to prowl the streets of metropolitan areas like Miami and Manhattan. Pedestrians were floored by the colorful display – but the tires were never released.
Why not? Cost was the biggest factor followed closely by safety (the colorful new material didn’t grip the road well in rainy conditions and wore away quickly when braking).
Luckily one local custom car builder, Jim “Street” Skonzakes, was given permission to use the tires on his mind-blowing Golden Sahara II. Over the years, the Golden Sahara II was forgotten and fell into ruin.
Klairmont Kollections found the car on auction and restored the one-of-a-kind art piece with the help of Speakeasy Customs in 2019. As part of the restoration, Goodyear provided the team with a set of four brand-new translucent tires. Check out this $350,000 beauty with the “glass tires” in the video below.