Goodyear was far ahead of its time by revealing a tire made of Neothane, a synthetic polyurethane rubber that could be poured into tire-shaped molds and baked in a 250 °F (121 °C) oven, back in 1961. Tires made from this material were far easier to manufacture than traditional tires, which required multiple layers of rubber as well as fabric. One cool feature is that these tires were translucent, so Goodyear took advantage of this by adding dye to the rubber, and then mounted lightbulbs inside the rims. Read more for two videos and additional information.
What set these apart from simply adding lightbulbs to any tire is that the driver could control the illumination of these individually or in pairs from a panel mounted near the car’s steering wheel. This means the tires could also be used as turn signals or brake lights. Unfortunately, neothane tires didn’t perform well in wet weather and melted under heavy braking, which meant they never made it out of the concept stage.
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Once the tires reach the market—and that could happen in a few years—auto stylists may use them to carry out a car’s color scheme, perhaps matching the tires with the upholstery. And it’s not at all unlikely that milady will want tires that enhance her wardrobe, her hair, or even her eyes,” said Goodyear in a press release from 1961.