I note from your current issue that the durability—or rather the lack of durability—of Dunlop tyres is again at issue. As a motorist of 35 years’ experience I should like to add my quota to the opinions being expressed on all sides.
Being very much in the “veteran” class, I should like to start my review of these tyres back in the middle ‘twenties, when I drove Salmsons, Amilcars, Senechals, etc., and when the tyres we used on such machines were mainly Englebert, Clincher (North British), Michelin, and Dunlops. Among these the Dunlop—”traction tread”—were simply magnificent; they would outlast all other tyres. Later in the ‘thirties, I was to find the Dunlop “Fort” a superb tyre, absolutely everything its makers claimed for it.
Came the war, with, for me, Government sponsored driving only. Then, a few years afterwards, my first post-war purchased car—and was I delighted to find four almost new Dunlops, plus a spare which was some outlandish re-tread on a Dunlop casing.
Yes, I was delighted—but oh dear, how naive can you get! Of those fine-looking new Dunlops, every single one was to burst, and in a very few miles at that, from weakness in the walls. Not one of them ever incurred a puncture; each had gone home through the hopelessly weak walls inside a few hundred miles. The only one to last any time at all was the re-treaded Dunlop spare—and even that succumbed to wall weakness in the end. Most of these failures occurred on the long haul from London to Cornwall. Once was when I had my eighty-year-old father-in-law with me, and I was forced to subject this frail old gentleman to more than thirteen hours on the road through the failure of these accursed tyres; another time my return to work in London on a Sunday drive was jeopardised by the bursting wall on a tyre which had not done 200 miles from new. My garage man, a decent bloke, invoked an institution called “The Tyre Committee” which, not being in the trade, I did not understand about. However, I got 100% compensation on one tyre, and a very high rate of compensation on the other. I got nothing at all on the remaining two, because I had to admit that they had done slightly more than 2,000 miles. The garage obtained for me a set of Firestone tyres all round. I do not think I under-inflate, or drive badly, or use tyres harshly in any way, because at least two of these Firestones were well in evidence when I finally sold the car nearly seven years later.
Of more recent times, I have become an Austin 7 fan. Many of the “Sevens” I have bought second-hand have been equipped with the Dunlop “Universal” motorcycle tyres. Without any exception, every single one of these tyres has burst in the wall, like the former ones did. There have been at least five or six over the past four years—plus two that cracked up around the rim just for a change, exposing great lengths of wire, so that it was equally impossible to use the tyre.
“It only wants blowing up, sir” some crafty Cornish car saleman would say, when, having fallen for another second-hand Austin, I would apply my thumb to the meaty and splendid looking tread on the Dunlop Universal which invariably rode as the spare—but when I got it home, it was to find that, as usual, it had already “burst in the seams.” I honestly do believe that these Dunlop Universal are the worst tyres ever thrust upon the long-suffering British public.
Of recent times I have been studying the fate of several friends who have Dunlop tyres adorning various kinds of new tin-ware. I must honestly concede that these tyres are vastly better today; to be completely fair to Dunlop, I now feel that their tyres are very nearly half as good as anybody else’s.
But it is a terrible record, at least so far as I have personally seen it. Dunlops have let a great name down—and somewhere in the shades a very inventive Scottish veterinary gentleman must be turning slowly in his grave.
750 Club. Truro