The Story Behind The Gigantic Tire on I-94
Have you ever wondered what the story is on the gigantic Uniroyal Tire visible off I-94 in Allen Park, between the Southfield Freeway Interchange and Outer Drive overpass? You certainly can’t miss it, as it stands over 80 feet high and weighs 12 tons.
It was originally created by the United States Rubber Company for the 1964 New York World’s fair, where at the time it functioned as a Ferris Wheel. After the fair ended in 1965 it was disassembled and shipped to Detroit requiring 22 trucks. Once in Detroit it was reassembled, minus it’s passenger gondolas as a static display outside the Uniroyal sales office in 1966. After a period of time the sales offices moved, but the gigantic tire remained in its location.
Being an icon of Detroit’s Industrial power, it still stands as a symbol of Uniroyals heritage, and a Detroit landmark. Uniroyal staged an event back in 2015 celebrating the 50th anniversary. During the celebration members of the Automotive Press Association and other guests were permitted to tour the interior of the Tire.
This is the tire when it was still a Ferris Wheel at the New York Worlds Fair in 1964. Notice the gondolas.(Steven J. Frey | The Giant Tire | www.gianttire.info)
Michelin purchased the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Company back in 1990, and in 1994 released plans to give the landmark an upgrade, including a new hubcap. Neon lights were added to the Uniroyal lettering. Also the tires fiberglass cover received a cleaning, new paint job, and updated with a sleek look.
In 1998 Uniroyal stabbed the tire with a 11-foot-long, 250-pound nail -- another "world's largest" -- to promote their puncture-resistant Tiger Paw Nail Guard tire. The big tire withstood the assault and the nail was eventually removed and given to Allen Park, which then put it up for sale on eBay in 2003 to raise money for a local historical society.
Above you can see an interior view of the 12 ton monster.
That same year the Giant Tire was renovated as part of the I-94 revitalization project for Detroit. They spent a million dollars replacing interior steel beams, asphalt and installing a storm drain, and replaced the neon lettering with reflective lettering. This landmark in Detroit is still visible to travelers on I-94 in Allen Park every day. Now the Next time you drive by it, you will know the whole story behind the legend of the gigantic Uniroyal tire on the side of the road in Detroit.
Pictures featured in this article are stills captured from this historical video.