It is no surprise to the older drivers amongst us that Michelin Tyres Development has always been at the forefront of tyre design
Ever since I started work as a junior tyre fitter all those years ago. So, I have marveled at the skill and professional work. That Michelin Tyres Development have put into their products. Even going back before my time ! French tyre makers were at the top of tyre development.Subsequently, all the other tyre companies were playing catch-up.
Enter the first steel belted radial that started it all off for Michelin tyres.
This was to be the tyre that changed their history. Including the great American tyre makers of the time. Of course, this new tyre from Michelin tyres was to be a far cry from the cross ply. Significantly, made by most other European tyre companies . Including, the Bias-belted tyres that were been developed in the USA.
The new Michelin Tyres Development was to be known as the Michelin”X”. Consequently, first appearing in 1949 (a year after I was born). This tyre would revolutionize the tyre industry ! With a product that would last longer and prove better car handling. Especially, for the type of suspension that was used on European cars.
This tyre was to be fitted as original equipment to Lancia and cars and also to the Mercedes 190 SL models.
It took a good ten years before the other tyre makers started to catch Michelin Tyres Development up, all trying to copy the steel belted “X” tyre.
Compared to the cross-ply tyre the radial gave many advantages. They gave a much better mileage and road holding, ( I must admit that when I was in my early tyre fitting days. I can remember drivers complaining about Michelin being bad in wet weather ?). This also gave added bonus of lower fuel consumption, a great
bonus for some of those old gas guzzling cars.
This is also the same time that imported cars were coming into the UK cars such as the Citroen 2 CV and Renault Dauphins.
More reading… “The Dauphine took over from the 4 CV in 1956, but not as a replacement. The name dauphine (heiress) was highly significant. Release was a major event on the motoring scene, and followed up by a successful career on French and export markets.
Dauphine played its successor’s role to the full, boasting all the latest features of the epoch, such as adjustable seats, heating, and an automatic gearbox. The finish was very smart, with a red and black steering wheel and matching seats. The dashboard layout was uncluttered, and the interior roomy.
Dauphine was a four-seater, with rear bench and two separate seats at the front. In January 1957, the US motoring weekly The Motor crowned it the “prettiest little four-seater in the world”. Sure, it was beautiful, elegant and shapely, totally in keeping with spirit of the 1960s.”…http://www.renault.com/en/vehicules/hier/pages/renault-dauphine.aspx
The Dauphin did not do too well in the “Cold Damp British climate”
So, soon had a bad reputation for bad rust. But it did come out on Michelin tyres, and I will never forget. Of course, the first time I had to remove one of these products from the rim. The tyre just fell off the wheel it was so easy to do. A big improvement on the struggle we had when fitting . In those days we only had a hand held tyre bead breaker and some tyre levers, balancing was carried out on a small “bubble” wheel balancer which I still believe never really worked.
To conclude Michelin Tyres Development have never looked back and in the early days. Because of their better cornering they were used in the early motor-sport cars with great success.