INDUSTRY: Battle of the Belts

Not long ago, the nation's tire industry was traveling a bumpy road. Safety crusaders had undermined public confidence in its standard product, the so-called "bias ply" tire, and worried manufacturers began experimenting with new designs and materials. That led to one of the most rapid, jarring turnabouts in the industry's history.

Goodyear, the biggest wheel in the business, swung over to safer, more durable and costlier "bias belted" tires. The company's $20 million advertising campaign, featuring sporty cars and racy women, created a runaway demand for its belted models. In 1968...

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