Ah yes, the short-lived 1950s fad of illuminated tires

In the 1950s, car enthusiasts began playing around with illuminated tires made of translucent synthetic rubber that could be tinted any color. Goodyear soon got in the game in case it took off, which unfortunately never happened.

The Chicago Tribune and LIFE both covered the tires during the R&D phase.


The definitive piece on the fad was written by Mark J. Price in Goodyear's hometown newspaper. Here's why they didn't take off:

Street tests were causing some confusion. "Other motorists have been so enthralled by the pretty colors that they have gone through red lights or just stopped to stare," Life magazine reported. That certainly was apparent when Goodyear took its show on the road. The company equipped a white Dodge Polaris convertible with red wheels and drove it around downtown Miami. Traffic halted in the streets. Pedestrians gaped in awe. Next, a red-wheeled Chrysler Silver 300 rolled through Manhattan, drawing crowds at Times Square, Rockefeller Center and the United Nations. Spectators asked the driver where to buy such tires. They were disappointed to learn that the product wouldn't be on the market "for several years."


One rare time the illuminated tires were ever seen in the wild was on the Golden Sahara series, two custom hotrods with glowing gold tires, best known for appearing in the Jerry Lewis film Cinderfella.


Here's a clip of that car from 1962, but the illuminated tires can't be seen under the bright lights.

Goodyear tries out glow-in-the-dark wheels in 1960s (ohio.com via Kustomrama)