Business: Forewarnings of Fatal Flaws

But Firestone continued to sell a troubled tire

We are making an inferior quality radial tire which will subject us to belt-edge separation at high mileage.

That blunt assessment of the dangers of the ill-starred Firestone 500 steel-belted radial was sent to the company's top management by Thomas A. Robertson, Firestone's director of development, in September 1973, one year after production started. Despite his memo, others like it and an epidemic of auto accidents apparently caused by the tire's failing, Firestone over the next five years went ahead to make and sell nearly 24 million 500s at about $50 each. All along, the...

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