On this day in auto history - August 3rd

Tue 3rd Aug 2021

It was on this day in 1900 that the ground-breaking Firestone Tire and Rubber Company was founded - the first mass producer of tyres.

Founded by 31-year-old entrepreneur Harvey. S Firestone in his home city of Akron, Ohio, the company originally started with just 12 employees but quickly seized on a new way of fitting rubber onto steel carriage wheels, helping it secure a highly-lucrative contract from a young Henry Ford in 1906.

Such was the success of this new venture, Firestone was able to embark of a massive worldwide program of expansion, helped by the opening of the world’s largest rubber plantation in Liberia, a site encompassing more than one million acres!

Decades of expansion came to an abrupt halt in the late 1970’s when Firestone ran into financial difficulties from the PR fallout of a disastrous recall of over 7 million tyres which were deemed unsafe by America’s National Highways Administration. 

Forced to shed almost 30,000 jobs worldwide as part of a dramatic restructuring programme, Firestone gradually returned to profitability in the 1980’s before it was bought out by Japan’s mighty Bridgestone Corporation for a cut-price $2.6 billion in 1988.