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National Touring Car Saves the Day with Overman Tires

In the early-1900s tire development advanced at about the same pace as the automobile did and by the early teens, both had become quite reliable. The lead image shows a 1913 National Touring car constructed in Indianapolis, Indiana on a 10,000 tire test in New York of a set of unusual Overman Cushion Tread non-pneumatic tires while it was pulling a limousine out of a mud hole. The tires used a very aggressive tread and were fastened by bolts to a set special rims.

While the tire and rim setup may have been successful during the test, it appears that the combination was not placed on the market. The expense of the special rim and tire combination and the cost of either a set of completely new wood spoked wheels minus the hubs or the fitting the rims to a set of existing wheels probably priced the tires out of the marketplace. An advertisement from the “Motor” May 1914 issue below shows a conventional pneumatic tire that Overman was selling a year later in 1914.

View a series of dozens of photos of the car and tires while on the test at the National Automobile History Collection.

Overman Cushion Tread Pneumatic Tire 1914 Advertisement

20 responses to “National Touring Car Saves the Day with Overman Tires

  1. Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a funeral hearse they’re pulling out? Those side lights and the open back, and what appears to be a casket in the back.

    • Howard,

      It is possible but the cars short wheelbase and general look is very much like that shared by smaller limos, and some big city taxi cabs at the time.

      The curtains on either side of the driver are of the type used in the wintertime to help shield the driver from side winds and rain and snow.

      Hopefully readers will also comment on the car.

    • It does seem too short for a hearse plus the rear windows seem too “open.” I’d expect draperies or stencilling on the glass for a more solemn appearance. That said, interesting that it is RHD.

  2. The tires on the National look totally clean, like they’ve never been on the road. Either that or someone cleaned them off for a publicity shot. Compare the National’s tires with those on the car being towed.

  3. I would imagine the clutch would be given a run for the money doing this and perhaps would not last the full 10,000 miles….actually, this is not a 10,000 tire test (whoohee, that would sure wreak havoc on the bottom line), but a 10,000 miler. I like the tread pattern.

  4. I have to agree with Boogaloo. I too first thought when I saw the photo that it was staged. When both cars and everyone was standing in a mud lolly, but the fist car was perfectly clean and even the tires were clean and not even any mud on the tread.

  5. David –
    Thanks for the explanation. Even the pneumatic tire advertised a ‘cushion tread’, so the original non-pneumatic must have been pretty rough on the occupants.
    I searched Google for Overman, and found that the Overman Wheel Company manufactured bicycles. with several ‘firsts’. The company lasted until 1900.
    It is not clear if the Overman Cushion Tire Company arose directly from the earlier firm. In 1914 they were granted a patent, which they sued Goodyear in the 30’s to defend. The suit records cite the original patents, which describe the tire construction.
    The Overman Cushion Tire Company still operates in Canton, Ohio.

  6. The Overman tires on the car are solid rubber tires. That’s what Overman was known for. They will sink in the mud faster than pneumatic tires.

  7. YES, I believe that I see a Funeral HEARSE being rescued : Notice the CASKET, and the Decorative Side-Lamps, up high . The front vehicle has advertising or other info. about MILES, etc. on its hood top panels. This may be a “service car” or it might be in the middle of some Public Event and the hearse driver got lucky . IF these tires are SOLID they would ride LIKE A ROCK!!! NOTE that the AD-vertisement says: “PNEUMATIC” (“pneumo ” = Compressed Air!!!) SOLID tires are on trucks because they can endure an extreme over-load !!! Pneumatic Truck tires have between 6 to 10 plies , cars have between 4 to 6 plies , typically. The heaviness of a SOLID tire on a car would cause spring , axle & steering gear damage , Human bone damage and have SEVERE Centrifugal Force & steering force ISSUES! especially at anything over 30 MPH! OLDER solid tire trucks NEVER EXCEEDED 20- 25 MPH!!!

  8. The landaulet has 12 spoke front wheels and a sharp radiator/hood line, ie the radiator comes to quite a point at the top. I suggest this is a Speedwell. Many large cars of the era had 10 spoke front wheels which eliminates many makes. The headlamps are the same as a Speedwell speedster which is googleable, qv.

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