ALLEN PARK, Mich.—The giant Uniroyal tire icon located alongside I-94 in Allen Park turned 50 years old this year, and Michelin North America Inc. couldn't let the milestone go unnoticed.
So the Greenville, S.C.-based tire maker, which owns the Uniroyal brand, threw a party in its honor May 20, inviting members of the Automotive Press Club to join in the festivities.
The giant Uniroyal tire originally was constructed as a Ferris wheel for the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York. The 96-passenger Ferris wheel carried more than 2 million riders during the fair, after which it was shipped by rail in 188 sections to Detroit.
There it was reassembled and anchored in concrete and steel standing proudly off of I-94 at the Uniroyal sales office. The tire is 80 feet tall, weighs 12 tons and has a tread depth of half a foot, vs. 12/32nd-inch for an actual passenger tire, said Ray Fischenich, Uniroyal brand manager.
Over the years the tire has had several updates. The first came in 1994 when neon lights and a new hubcap were added to the tire's body. It was modified again four years later, this time with a giant nail embedded in it to promote Uniroyal's seal-sealing Nailgard passenger tire.
The biggest renovation occurred in 2003 when Uniroyal invested nearly $1 million to freshen the landmark, including replacing 30 steel beams inside the tire, installing asphalt and storm drains, painting the exterior, applying reflective lettering and other structural improvements.
“We're proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the giant Uniroyal tire, one of the most enduring icons representing the Motor City and a nation known for its great industrial and automotive history,” Fischenich said.
“The Uniroyal team has been dedicated to updating and renovating the giant tire as our tire technology has evolved over the years. We're committed to continuing these updates so that the tire will remain a landmark for many years to come.”