I’m rather excited to catch this truck, because it used to live here for many years, then disappeared for quite a few more years, only to return again. It’s a fine old classic F250, but what really makes it unique is its front-mounted spare, with air deflectors to help compensate for the air it blocks. But the best part is that spare tire itself: it’s a period piece, one I’ve been meaning to write up for years, but there’s none around anymore: a vintage Wide-Oval truck tire.
Firestone rocked the world with its Wide Oval tires in 1967, the first production tires with an aspect ratio of 70. Needless to say, they quickly became the hot new thing, and 70 series tires replaced the tall and skinny tires on performance cars almost instantly. And of course, they unleashed a progressive reduction in aspect ratio, with 60 series tires coming along just a few years later, and so on.
But what seems to be almost forgotten is that Firestone also tried to revolutionize truck tires with low-aspect ratio tires, at about the very same time. I’ve been desperately trying to find one for ages, and this is the only example I’ve come across, probably because it’s been sitting up there unused for decades. I still can’t find any information about the introduction of these truck tires, or its exact aspect ratio, which does look like it is .70 to my eye.
Actually, this one is a Goodyear, a “Hi-Miler Wide Tread.” As I remember it, Ford initially offered the wide Firestone tires as an option on 3/4 ton trucks, both the F250 and the E300 Econoline van, and I can confirm it was no later than 1968.
This one is a 9.50 – 16.5 LT size, but that was just the beginning. These tires soon spurred a fad, with even much bigger and wider ones soon becoming the the thing to have on the rear axle of one’s pickup in the seventies. 12.5 – 16 or 16.5 was the big bad boy, if I remember correctly, although I don’t think they had quite the low aspect ratio of these wide-oval tires.
The 8.00 – 16.5 Michelin radials on the truck now look positively dainty, especially on the extra wide rims.
Like so many old trucks like this, it gets pressed into seasonal duties; at this time of year, it’s to haul a load of fresh compost for the garden. With that spare tire in front, no doubt this Camper Special was originally bought to haul a slide-in camper, and the wide tires gave it extra floatation on stability.