Raised White Letter Tires for Muscle Cars, Hot Rods & Trucks
Raised white letter tires are a huge part of the muscle car era. The famous tires of yesteryear hold a special place in our hearts and memories, and Coker Tire strives to offer authentic raised white letter tires for your muscle car, hot rod or classic truck. We've spent years studying tires, and we're excited to put together this article about the history of raised white letter tires, and explain the MANY different options, from original style sizes to narrow front runners, extra wide rears, and many sizes in between. If you're looking for white-letter tires...we're sure we can offer the proper fitment for nearly any application.
When Did White-Letter Tires Come Out?
The idea of colored sidewall lettering dates back more than one hundred years. According to photographs from the Indianapolis 500, race teams were coloring sidewall lettering, even when the tires were gray or white in color.
Black tires with white lettering became common in the late 1920's, and continued to be standard practice on race cars of all types. In the early racing days, races were often won or lost because of the tires. Firestone was at the forefront of racing tire technology, so most of the painted sidewalls you'll see in historic photos are Firestone.
Eventually, white sidewall lettering made its way into NASCAR racing, drag racing and dirt track racing, especially as the competition brewed between Firestone and Goodyear. What started as advertising on race cars made its way onto the streets of America, thanks to great timing and clever marketing, aimed at muscle car buyers during the 1960's and beyond.
Original Muscle Car Tires
1964 was a pivotal year for the automotive world, as it was the introduction of the muscle car, as well as the pony car. Pontiac rocked everyone's world with the GTO, which could be purchased with optional redline tires. Before then, tire options were limited to blackwall and whitewalls. Although whitewalls would continue to serve as the most common sidewall option, tire manufacturers got creative in the mid 1960's with redline variations, gold lines and even blue lines. A huge change came in 1967, as major tire manufacturers, Goodyear and Firestone debuted new tire models, geared specifically for muscle cars. Both manufacturers used polyester cord material to better support the horsepower and speed of the muscle cars and sports cars of the era. This was also the beginning of the alphanumeric sizing (ex. F70-14) that would continue to be common for the next decade or so. The most notable change that happened in 1967 was the availability of white letters.
Firestone Wide Oval Tires
Firestone came to the market with the Wide Oval, a tire that offered excellent fitment and performance on muscle cars, pony cars and sports cars. Originally available in a pinstripe whitewall and redline sidewall treatment, the Firestone Wide Oval product line would evolve into the raised white letter design that we now produce in several popular sizes.
This lettering style is most common for 1969 through 1974 cars, but can be retrofitted on earlier muscle cars if you prefer the white letter tire look. Firestone Wide Oval tires were original equipment on cars such as the Chevelle SS, Corvette, Mustang GT and many other notable cars from the muscle car era. We offer the original style Firestone Wide Oval bias ply tire in many original sizes, ranging from D70-14 through G70-15.
Goodyear Raised White Letter Tires
Goodyear's debut of the E70-15, offered exclusively on Shelby Mustangs in 1967, gave buyers the option for raised white lettering. This tire and the original Firestone Wide Oval tire sparked the trend, which led to the development of many more raised white letter tires.
Many times during the following years, Goodyear and Firestone would reconfigure and refine the sidewall design, and they eventually added fiberglass belting beneath the tread to provide further stability.
Just a quick note on fiberglass belting: Goodyear re-engineered its Speedway Wide Tread RWL tire to eliminate the belting for 1970 through 1972 Corvettes, as the belting did not mix well with the car's four-wheel independent suspension.
Another important note on Goodyear tires is a lettering change that occurred in 1969 for the 1970 model year. Goodyear classifies tires built before 10/31/1969 as an N/S tire, meaning that the size of the tire is not elevated with white lettering. The N/S design is accurate for cars with build dates on or before 10/31/1969.
After this date, Goodyear Polyglas tires featured raised lettering and numbers on the size. This is known by Goodyear as an E/S tire. It is designed for use on 1970-1/2 and later muscle cars.
BFGoodrich Radial T/A Tires
The original radial tire to hit the muscle car market was the BFGoodrich Radial T/A, which was introduced in 1970. It was used on road race cars, but later became a more street-friendly design, available in a wide range of original and custom sizes. The one thing that was always consistent with the Radial T/A from day one was raised white letters and a great selection of fitments.
We continue to offer BFGoodrich Radial T/A tires, but now they are modernized for performance and handling on your muscle car, hot rod or classic truck. The tires still have the famous raised white letters, and still offer an excellent value. Popular original style sizes like 215/70R14 and 225/70R15 offer fitment for modernized muscle cars, but you can also mix and match sizes for the perfect old school stance with staggered tire fitment. The sizing ranges from 155/80R15 front runners to super wide 295/50R15 rears.
Firestone Wide Oval Radial
Back in 2017, we announced the availability of our newest tire innovation, the Firestone Wide Oval Radial. This tire offered original the sidewall markings and tread design of the original Firestone Wide Oval, combined with modern radial construction for improved ride quality. This tire was the first of its kind was the first of its kind for the muscle car market.
This best-selling product line fits a wide variety of muscle cars, pony cars and sports cars, with original-style alphanumeric sizing such as GR70-14 and FR70-15. We manufacture these Firestone Wide Oval radial tires in redline and raised white letter configurations, giving you options for styling and fitment.
Firestone raised white letter tires are made in the USA with brand new molds and modern materials. This product line spans the entire muscle car era, and beyond, and we hope to expand the product line for even more fitments for original and customized applications.
Cooper Cobra Radial G/T Tires
Cooper Cobra Radial G/T raised white letter tires are an affordable option for any muscle car, Corvette or classic truck. 13 sizes are available for 14- and 15-inch rim diameters, with standard sizing, as well as custom size options like 275/60R15 and other popular 60 series tires.
With a great looking tread and modern lettering, the Cooper Cobra is a popular choice for many enthusiasts. Whether you have a Mopar muscle car, a cool classic truck with vintage styling or anything in between, the Cooper Cobra is a solid choice.