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The Return of Everyone’s Friend: Bibendum the Michelin Man

Roly-poly “Bibendum”, the Michelin Man has long been a favorite of man, woman, and child because of his endearing looks and alluring nature as a mascot for the world-famous French Tire Maker. The Tire Man has been a popular subject on The Old Motor since The Michelin Man and the History of the Michelin Tire was first posted here six years ago.

This 1920s image released recently by Michelin contains a Ford Model “TT” truck outfitted with sideboards and a “Bibendum” mannequin on top of the box on the truck bed. The Ford’s hubs are equipped with flanges and lugs necessary to adapt the disc wheels and Michelin tires. The location where the photo was taken is unknown, but, hopefully a reader can tell us which country issued the truck’s license plate.

The Tire Maker known for its colorful poster art has also released an image of the brightly colored 1912 lithograph (below) by the artist O’ Galop. The poster shows “Bibendum” wearing shoes fitted with studs much like those inserted on some Michelin tires at the time.

Take a look back at our Michelin coverage over the years that includes many interesting photographs and colored posters which helped to make Michelin a global leader in the tire business. Learn the story of the tire company’s mascot in earlier coverage of Bibendum – The Larger Than Life Michelin Man. 

bibendum the michelin man a model tt truck

  • The  word “indejantable” on the truck’s sideboard loosely translated means virtually indestructible.

the michelin man in france

  • Michelin introduced its new “semelle” (sole) tire in 1905 (below), which provided the best possible traction available at the time without the use of tire chains. It was constructed with a cross plies of cotton and natural rubber with an extra layer of leather used for the tread fitted with rows of steel studs.

bibendum the michelin man with studs

10 responses to “The Return of Everyone’s Friend: Bibendum the Michelin Man

  1. Almost certainly we are in Paris …if I have weaved my way through the maze that is French number plate history ..that is where the truck is recorded.And being an open cabber I doubt it ventured far.

  2. I think the name on the building in the picture is Estampes. A Google search comes up with the name of a town in France. Could be a bullseye or way off the mark.

  3. “Indejantable”: will not come off the wheel (“jante” in French). A common incident at the time. “Le coup de la semelle”: the stomp of the sole. “O’ Galop” sounds like “au galop” which means galloping.

  4. Paris to Estampes is 800 km or 500 miles. A Model T truck could make the trip in 5 days or so, depending on the gearing.

  5. Estampes means printer or engraver.Looking at the chap in the leather coat I wonder if the truck has called to pick up some flyers or similar.

  6. Hello

    The tire “Confort-Bidendum” was launched in 1926

    X on the registration plate means : Paris, before october 1928

    “Estampes” : engraving and pictures shop

  7. The truck has disc wheels probably by Michelin,and may itself be demonstrating the benefit of conversion from artillery.

  8. I took a class on how to utilize Machinerys Handbook. We were making calculations on how to cut gears. Two features on a gear tooth profile are the addendum and the dedendum. I asked about the Bibendum. I just got blank stares. So few people know the Michelin Man’s name!

    • Love your sense of humor, Andy! Is transfer what you put on a transmission to keep it warm? And transcendental must refer to the teeth on a transmissions gears.

  9. The legend claims that it was in 1894, on the stand of the Universal Exhibition of Lyon, France that Edouard Michelin, designating a pile of tires, would have said to his brother André: “Look, with arms, it makes a man . Four years later, André comes across an advertisement for a brewery designed by illustrator Marius Rossillon (better known by his pen name O’Galop). It’s the revelation!

    He asks the artist to replace the jovial drinker with a character made of tires, then he replaces the mug of beer with a bowl filled with sherds and nails. The Latin quotation of Horace chosen to praise the brewery is also repeated: “Nunc is bibendum” (Now it’s time to drink). To stick to the world of tire, Michelin diverts the meaning by translating: “Cheers, the Michelin tire drinks the obstacle. Inflated!

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