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B.F. Goodrich Built a Car

154 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Dave S
Looks like something a kid would draw

When World War II ended in 1945, Americans could be car-crazy again. Tire maker B.F. Goodrich joined the fun with its own prototype automobile.

We don’t know a lot about this one-of-a-kind vehicle, but we will share what we know. Much of our info came from our friend the late Robert C. Lichty, veteran automobile historian and writer, who instantly recognized the car when we shared a photo with him. It seems that in around 1946 or so. the B.F. Goodrich Co. constructed the prototype car in its own Akron, Ohio fabrication shops.
Of course, the tire maker (now rendered as BFGoodrich, a division of Michelin since 1990) had no intention of going into direct competition with the Motor City’s auto manufacturers, its most important customers. Rather, the purpose was to create a distinctive demonstration tool for its extensive catalog of automotive components and accessories.

The side view above tells us much of this car’s creation story. The basic body shell is clearly borrowed from a 1941-42 Willys Americar four-door sedan (and possibly the chassis and drivetrain as well, but we don’t know that). However, the Willys origins have been successfully disguised with all-new sheet metal ahead of the cowl and a longer rear deck to stretch out the lines.
Meanwhile, the front fenders have been extended rearward into the doors, the hot styling trend of the time. Bumpers, grille, and lamps have been changed as well, and on the front of the hood is a bright-metal emblem with the letter G. To our eye, the exterior design appears to be the work of an experienced automotive stylist.
According to Bob, the tires, wheels, battery, seat covers, and rubber goods were all B.F. Goodrich items. It may be that tubeless tires, a fresh Goodrich development in 1947, were a key part of the promotion. And the auto parts and accessories business was booming at the time, thanks to the postwar shortage of new cars.
Additionally, the suspension reportedly used Goodrich’s torsilastic components, which were marketed by the company under the Velvet-Ride name. While bonded-rubber suspension systems never caught on in passenger cars, they were commonplane in buses and recreational vehicles, and Preston Tucker’s Tucker 48 employed torsilastic suspension elements, reportedly from multiple suppliers.
What became of the B.F. Goodrich prototype-demonstrator is completely unknown to us. Like so many one-off vehicles built for marketing and promotion, it seems to have vanished into thin air once its commercial dutes were concluded. All that seems to remain are a few photographs.

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In the 1960's Bridgestone started manufacturing and selling motorcycles. I had one, and it was amazingly quick. It is my understanding that Honda told Bridgestone to choose between selling tires to Honda or selling motorcycles. It looks like they saw a more reliable profit in selling tires to Honda, because they certainly got out of the motorcycle business.
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