What did happen to white wall tires?

I own a 1983 Buick. Doesn’t look right without white wall tires. Last time I had to replace one it was very hard to find a tire store that even sold them anymore.

And I don’t see them on any cars made in the last 20 years or so.

So what happened and when exactly?

Was it a cost saving measure by car and tire manufacturers that the consuming public got used to? Did the consuming public demand black wall tires because it started to view white wall tires as gaudy and ugly?

Nobody cruised the Miracle Mile anymore.

For the most part, they just went the way of the tail-fin and the hood ornament as tastes changed. They were definitely on the way out even before, but the change over to bigger rims and smaller tires was probably the final nail in the coffin. Personally, I think what really doomed them was disc brakes-- if you did a lot of stop and go driving it’s a bit of a job stopping your whitewalls from turning into brownwalls.

There are (were) guys who could add a whitewall to an otherwise black tire. They jack up the wheels one at a time, spin them with a motor, and cut a slight groove in the sidewall, which they they paint(?) white.

Not sure how you find those guys though.

I once watched the operations at a tire store for a while and, while they still charged a premium for whitewalls, if you didn’t pay the premium you got the same tires but the whitewalls were facing in. So there could not have been any significant cost differential, at least not to cover the cost of doubling your inventory. Honestly, I would not pay 1 cent extra for whitewalls.

But I concur with the thought that tastes change. Remember the '59 Chevy? I do. Remember the two and even three tone cars? I do.

cutting a groove in the sidewall sounds like a cracking good idea :rolleyes:

They all got shipped to the Chinese military.

Here’s your answer.

They don’t cut very deep, maybe 1/16" x 3/4" wide. I had it done to quite a few tires, and never had any problem

Yeah, I “loved” that silly little factoid. My position was it was just a much effort to make sure they faced in as they faced out and the cheapest option should have been the orientation was random.

I suppose the tire guys do have to spend an extra minute or so per tire to scrub off the blue protective covering that the whitewalls come from the factory with.

One of my front tires is worn down to the steel cord, so will have to buy a new one in next few days.

It’s been three years since I had to replace a white wall tire and it was somewhat difficult to do that three years ago.

Going to guess it will be impossible today to buy one from the usual tire vendor.

Aside from antique tire vendors, who can be very expensive and you still have to pay someone to balance and mount the tire ---- any suggestions?

I suppose I could make my own white wall by just masking it and painting a circular white. I doubt that cutting a groove in the tire would make much difference from 5 feet away that anyone would notice.

So what kind of paint would hold to a tire?

The Coker Tire site has the Maxxis MA-1 which is just a pretty much normal passenger car tire that just so happens to have a narrow white sidewall. They’re pretty reasonable but, yeah, the shipping and mounting can make buying tires off the internet expensive. You might try calling around to your local tire shops to see if anyone carries them or can get them in, or if there’s any other cheap tires that still have whitewalls.

Um… WWs are still being sold for normal prices. See here.

Filter for auto tires and price.