The Giant Uni-Tire

This tire has put on some mileage. It started out as a functioning Ferris wheel at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. And ended up as roadside tourist attraction in Allen Park, Michigan.

The tire has 6-inch tread and is made of polyester resin (not rubber) reinforced with glass fiber, making it flame resistant. It weighs 12 tons and stands 80-feet high. In order to accommodate a car, the car would need to be 200-feet tall.

As a fair attraction, the tire carried a first lady, a film/TV star and an international leader (Jacqueline Kennedy, Telly Savalas and the Shah of Iran).

For 25-cents, fairgoers got a spectacular view of the fairgrounds during the 10-minute ride.

When the fair ended, the tire was disassembled and shipped to Detroit in 188 pieces. It took four months to complete the reassembly, without the Ferris wheel buckets, as a display outside a Uniroyal sales office. Anchored in concrete and steel, the tire serves as a symbol of the auto industry anchored in Detroit. The sales office has long since moved on.

In 1994, the tire got a refurb with neon lighting and a new hubcap. Four years later, to launch its innovative NailGuard self-sealing technology, the tire acquired an 11-foot, 250-lb. nail protruding from the top. The nail was removed in 2003, donated to the city of Allen Park, and auctioned on eBay, reportedly for $3k. The tire was renovated a second time as part of Detroit’s I-94 revitalization project. $1-million of work included 30 new interior steel beams, fresh asphalt and storm drain installation. The neon lettering was upgraded with reflective lettering.

In celebration of the tire’s 50th anniversary, Uniroyal invited the media to tour inside the iconic tire. “Other than a few cobwebs and paint chips, it’s surprisingly clean,” said Detroit Free Press.

The tire stands today as a welcome to Detroit visitors.


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