The name Goodyear is in the news now that the famous tyre manufacturer is pulling out of F1 racing. Back in the 1920s there was another Goodyear, a car of that name, although perhaps it did not cause quite as much comment as the tyres, and certainly did not endure for anything like as long,
It was introduced in 1924, when private motoring was on the up and the cyclecar and light car makers were offering the eager public leisure transport at astonishingly low prices. To get out and about on the still uncongested roads of this country in a car was the aim of more and more citizens. The Modcl-T Ford had led the drive, but was beginning to date, and when a highish wage might be around £5 a week, paying a £23 annual tax on the Model-T’s reliable but low-output-engine was a considerable proportion of that. Many would be likely to turn instead to smaller cars like the Baby Austin, taxed at a more modest £8 a year. It was against this commercial background that the Goodyear’s instigators hoped to prevail.
They may have taken heart in the knowledge that many Model-T Fords were still at large, giving good service especially in country districts in which low traffic-density made fewer demands on its two-speed epicyclic transmission than the stop-start progression already customary in many towns. The Model-T Ford had been immensely prolific here from long before the war, and those who had bought them but wanted to escape from the Tin Lizzie’ label could invest in items innumerable, from a complete weatherproof top for a tourer or a disguised radiator to a self-starter.
The Goodyear from Manchester set out to woo the more snobbish ‘I iz7ie’ users. The Ford’s wheelbase was extended by moving the front axle forward and using a frame with upswept ends, to which the transverse springs were attached, reducing the car’s height by five inches. A 3in exhaust pipe ran along the near-side of the polished aluminium sports two-seater body, with cast-alloy running-boards. A higher plated radiator made the thing unrecognisable as a Ford. The steering-wheel rather gave the game away, but not the wheels, which were Dunlop artilleries.
Not only that, but you got a CAV lighting set, a Boyce motometer, a fine polished aluminium dash with Tapley gradient meter, Brolt head lamps, a three-piece screen and a decent hood. A 15-gallon rear petrol tank replaced the T’s underfloor tank. To suit the Goodyear’s appearance the engine had a ‘hotter’ camshaft, light pistons, and a balanced crankshaft, so that even with the standard carburettor and valves some 2000rpm was possible, up from 1600. All this for £215, against £125 at which the ageing normal T was priced. There were other makes also based on T components, but I think the Goodyear people tried harder for sales than anyone.
On the road the Goodyear ran nicely at some 35 to 40 mph; it could apparently be wound-up to around 50 mph, could restart on a greasy 1-in-4 hill and 32 mpg was claimed, but it got rather lively on slippery roads. But one wonders how many Goodyears left the Combrook Street works of the American Auto Agency in Stratford, the company who were promoting this emancipated Ford. Not many, I suspect. But do let me know if you can add anything to the tale.