Whitewall tires have been out of vogue since the early sixties. Whitewalls refer to black tires which either have side walls, or a rubber stripe within its sidewall, made of white rubber.

But why how did whitewall tires get started?

When tires were first manufactured they were white because they are made from rubber. Rubber comes from latex, which is white. So naturally, the first rubber tires were all white. But, there was a problem with these original rubber tires. They did not wear well, and had poor traction.

The solution of to these problems is carbon black. Carbon black increases the longevity by reducing the wear, and it increases the traction of the rubber. The addition of carbon black turned the white rubber black.

Originally, only the tread was made with carbon black. The rest of the tire, that is the inner and outerwalls, were still white latex. The net effect was a tire which had a black tread and white sidewalls.

In time all black tires became available. The all black tires were created by covering up the white side wall with a thin layer of black rubber.

Black tires were considered the luxury tire when they were first introduced. They had a cleaner appearance and were easier to keep clean. However, if the tire got scuffed deep enough, the underlying white rubber would show.

In time, the size of the white sidewall began shrinking as the car styles changed. Then when black tires became more common, the whitewalls became a sign of prestige and could only be found on luxury cars.

Today whitewalls are specialty items. There are virtually no cars sold today that have them. The manufacturing of these tires are left to specialty shops. The market  being mostly vintage cars.

You can still find them on Amazon.


Make Your Own

If locating whitewalls is too much work, you can also make your own. Find a tired with white raised lettering or pin stripes. This is an indicator that there is whitewall underneath a thin layer of black rubber. You can sand or grind off this upper layer exposing the complete whitewall underneath.

Watch the video below to see how.