When you look at pictures of vintage cars from the muscle car era, there a few trends and features that immediately make these cars distinct. Their bodies were differently shaped, their engines were designed differently, and perhaps most noticeably of all, many of these cars had white wall tires.

To some people, white wall tires are relics of a past era. But to others, they are still a way to show that your car is about much more than just getting you from point A to point B. Your car is about the ride, and while you are riding, you want to be riding with a style that is uniquely your own and sure to turn heads along the way.

What are white wall tires?

White wall tires—as the name might imply—are tires that instead of having black walls, have white walls. Charcoal black is typically the most popular color for tires because it is the one that stays the cleanest no matter what you may be driving over. However, contrary to popular belief, charcoal black is still not exactly the natural color of the rubber plant used to make tires.

When you realize that even the ‘default’ color for tires has been dyed or painted to some extent, you begin to realize that all tires look the way the look because of a choice that somebody else made along the way. While many people are content to go with the default option out of pure convenience, other people have realized they want to express themselves in a way that is unique.

White wall tires are an alternative to traditional black wall tires that can be made in several different ways. Lately, many tire professionals have been recommending using tire paint pens to give your tires the ‘white wall’ look, but this hasn’t always been the case. In fact, for many years, this look was typically created by having two different layers of tires (one white, one black).

When were white wall tires most popular?

Following the original introduction of the Ford Model T (about a century ago), tire production has gone through many different phases. At first, car tires very much resembled what you might see on an old fashion horse and carriage. But over time, cars became much more powerful than they once were, and their wheels were required to change in response.

As time went on, tires began to be composed of more complex (and stronger) materials. They also changed shape and form. By the 1960s, the tires on a typical car were nothing like they were fifty years ago, nor was the car itself. More than ever before, people began to have options.

The 1960s and 1970s are often referred to as the ‘muscle car’ era. During this time, American classics such as the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Corvette began to be introduced to the general public, and people quickly became more enthused about cars than ever before. The car—in a very American way—became a material extension of the ‘self’.

Naturally, people wanted to express themselves in different ways, and thus white wall tires became increasingly popular during this era in particular.

What happened to white wall tires?

Though both the Mustang and Corvette are still two very models in the modern era, we are no longer in what can be considered to be the ‘muscle car’ era. As time has gone on, people’s use of their car has changed, their tastes have changed, and—consequently—the accessories people have been seeking for their car have also been changing.

For some people, the use of white wall tires may be considered to be sort of a fad. When first introduced, these were a novel idea, they quickly became popular, and they eventually grew out of style. However, one of the most interesting things about fads is that even if they have faded away, they may inevitably return in a different form.

Can you still buy white wall tires today?

You can still buy traditional (multi-layered) white wall tires today, but you may have to go to a specialty dealer that has an ongoing interest in vintage automobiles. To put it simply, the multi-layer model has proven itself to be less stable than tires of the present, and for many people, these old-fashioned tires are no longer worth the hassle.

If you have a vintage car, white wall tires can still offer you the look you are going for. Though the multi-layered model may present modern car owners with a number of different problems, there is no denying that the juxtaposition of black and white can look very appealing to those who pass by (or are being passed by you).

What are some alternatives to white wall tires?

If you want the classic black-on-white look that can be offered by white wall tires—but you don’t want to have to deal with hassle of the outdated multi-layered model—fortunately, you are still in luck.

When used correctly, tire paint can produce the same aesthetic effect while still allowing you to maintain the durability of the tires you currently have. As time has gone, the quality of tire paint on the market has dramatically improved, and this particular product has unquestionably become a very viable option.

Tire paint not only lets you make sure your tires are as durable as they can possibly be, but it also allows you to easily maintain them as time goes on. While the old model of white wall tires was incredibly difficult to clean, using tire pain instead gives you the options to simply make touch ups as needed. Dirt, gravel, and other sorts of debris can easily wear-out and taint the finishing on your tires over time—especially if you drive with anything other than charcoal black tires—but with tire paint, this isn’t a problem.

Another reason people have tremendously gravitated towards using tire paint has been the ability to paint with different colors. While the old multi-layered models almost always came in just one color (usually white, occasionally red or yellow), tire paint gives you the option to uniquely create a design of your own. Whether you are highlighting the logo of the tire maker, painting over the inner-ring, or doing something completely different, tire paint really gives you the option to get creative.

Though the days of old-fashion white wall tires may be a thing of the past, the days of colorful tire walls are certainly making a comeback. Tire paint offers an effective and vibrant solution. It is easy to apply and easy to be enjoyed by all.