MotorCities National Heritage Area
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By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images Courtesy of the Goodyear Archives
Published 5.6.2020

Charles Goodyear Goodyear Archives 1Charles Goodyear (Goodyear Archives)

For many years I have been a satisfied customer of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and I have always received great service!

In 1839, a chemist named Charles Goodyear discovered by accident that heat and sulphur alters the consistency of rubber. The process would later become known as vulcanization, which makes rubber much stronger, more flexible, and more resistant to heat and other environmental conditions.

Goodyear promotional vehicle with airwheel Goodyear Archives RESIZED 2Goodyear promotional vehicle with airwheel (Goodyear Archives)

On August 29, 1898, Frank Seiberring incorporated the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in Akron Ohio with a capital stock offering of $100,000. In the beginning, 13 employees were hired for manufacturing bicycle tires. Goodyear started as a manufacturer of bicycle tires, horseless carriage tires, horseshoe pads and later moved into automobile tires along with many other rubberized parts. Later, the company developed and manufactured the first tubeless tires.

The Goodyear Blimp Goodyear Archives 3The Goodyear Blimp Mayflower (Goodyear Archives)

By 1916, as sales continued to grow, Goodyear adapted the advertising slogan “More people ride on Goodyear tires than on any other tire” and became the largest tire manufacturing company in the world. One of the pioneers that helped guide and shape the company was David E. Hill, who purchased $30,000 of stock and served as Goodyear’s first president.

On May 22, 1929, the very first Goodyear Blimp, known as the Mayflower, was christened. Another blimp, the Defender, was christened by Amelia Earhart later that same year at the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio. The blimps proved to be a great advertising and promotional vehicle for the company. Goodyear had been manufacturing airships since the early 1900s.

A Goodyear serviceman Goodyear Archives 4A Goodyear serviceman (Goodyear Archives)

During the Great Depression throughout the 1930s, Goodyear continued to manufacture tires for the auto industry and developed the first synthetic rubber tire in 1937. As Americans prepared for war in the early 1940s, the U.S. Department of Defense started construction on an aircraft plant on land they had leased from the Southwest Cotton Company. The factory was operated by Goodyear Aircraft, a division of Goodyear Tire & Rubber. During the war, the company was awarded the contract to manufacture F4U Corsair fighter planes.

1930s Goodyear ad Goodyear Archives RESIZED 51930s Goodyear ad (Goodyear Archives)

After the war, Goodyear resumed manufacturing great tires and other products for the auto industry. In 1947, the first nylon tires were developed for the consumer market. During the 1950s and 1960s, Goodyear’s innovations in racing tires resulted in more stock and sports car race wins than any other brand in the industry. In 1963, the Goodyear reached the milestone of producing its one billionth tire.

Goodyear logo 1950s Goodyear Archives RESIZED 6Goodyear logo, 1950s (Goodyear Archives)

When you look back at the history of the company, you must give credit to Charles Goodyear, for whom the company is named. He was a great chemist and engineer. Although Goodyear died more than 30 years before the company was established, his experiments with natural rubber changed American history.

Goodyear LeMans ad 1960s Goodyear Archives RESIZED 7Goodyear LeMans ad, 1960s (Goodyear Archives)

Today, the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company is still one of the top tire companies in the world. Their recent purchase of Raben Tires will allow more opportunity for growth in many markets.

Goodyear Global Headquarters Goodyear Archives RESIZED 8Goodyear Global Headquarters in Akron, Ohio (Goodyear Archives)

In conclusion, Goodyear continues to earn top honors in the rubber and plastics categories of Fortune magazine’s list of America’s most admired companies. Goodyear will always be a part of American history.

Bibliography

Goodyear Corporation History.

Goodyear Financial News. “Goodyear Has Purchased Raben Tire.” December 19, 2019.

Ohio History Connection. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.