Michelin Classic: Modern tires with a vintage look
A few hours after the close of the Rétromobile trade show (February 7–11 2018), an annual meeting at Porte de Versailles in Paris of classic car enthusiasts, we take a closer look at the Michelin Classic division. With tires that are not just safe but also historically authentic, Michelin Classic is safeguarding, promoting and sustaining our automobile heritage.
Youngtimers from the 1970s and ’80s, older classics or historical racing cars, MICHELIN offers a line of tires to fit nearly any car made from the 1920s to the 1980s. .
Michelin Classic has reissued numerous emblematic tires (Radial, XAS, TRX, etc.) with meticulously recreated historically accurate profiles with performances that meet today’s standards. The entire line also features the brand’s most recent advances in terms of materials and structure. These tires have improved traction while retaining the most appropriate characteristics for the vintage vehicles they were designed for.
Flipping through the Michelin Collection tire catalogue is a trip back through 100 years of tire history and innovations.
100 years of history and innovation
Following on from clincher tires, the 1930s saw the advent of drop center tires, with two notable innovations: the introduction of carbon black and textile fibers in the tire casing.
Michelin released a major innovation in the 1950s: the radial, initially sold under the name “X” in 1949. Lancia was the first manufacturer to use the X as factory tires on its Aurelia model. Most European carmakers would go on to use this tire from 1955. The X was fitted on cars such as the Citroën 2 CV, the VW Bug, the Mercedes 190SL and the Facel Vega.
The XAS was born in the mid-sixties. It was the first tire with an asymmetrical tread, which provides better vehicle balance. It was launched in 1965 and remained a benchmark through the end of the seventies.
The 1960s and ’70s
From the Lamborghini Miura to the Ferrari 365, Porsche 911 Carrera RS, Citroën SM, Jaguar Type E V12 and Aston Martin DBS, automakers released myriad exceptional cars throughout the 1960s and ’70s. It was for these beauties that Michelin developed the XWX, the only suitable radial tire for these cars that could ensure outstanding handling and traction, even at never-before-seen road speeds. The XWX can be used at speeds of over 130 mph, with a maximum speed of 167 mph.
The 1970s and ’80s
The 1970s and ’80s marked a turning point in people’s awareness of road safety issues. This led to improvements in tire traction, precision, stability and comfort.
In 1975, Michelin released the TRX to offer a more even distribution of tension across the entire casing.
The TRX was a top choice in the F1 with Renault and Alain Prost as well as the World Rally Championship with the Audio Quattro, Renault 5 Turbo, Peugeot 2015 Turbo16 and others. But it also featured on this period’s most emblematic sedans, which could go for miles on end in unprecedented safe and comfortable conditions: these included the BMW 7 Series, 5 Series and 3 Series. Sports car fans also opted for the Michelin TRX, outfitting Ferrari 308 GTS and GTB, Alpine A310 V6 and similar models.
All of the Michelin Collection tires are manufactured in small runs, often by hand, and rely on phenomenal technical expertise. The technological excellence of the Michelin Classic lines (Collection and Competition Classic) guarantees the integrity of the cars they’re fitted on. These tires reproduce the exact configuration of the original model – size, tread and aesthetic – to ensure vehicle authenticity.
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Michelin at the Rétromobile trade show
Once again this year, Michelin was represented at Rétromobile via various specialized distributors: Mehari Club Cassis, Vintage Tyres, l’Aventure Peugeot and more. Michelin was also at the le stand de son partenaire ALLOPNEUS, located just inside the entrance to the trade show. The entire Michelin Collection and Michelin Competition Classic lines were presented, with the three major innovations for 2018 showcased.
The 155 R 15 “X” for the Peugeot 203 and first generation VW Bug models
The 155 R 14 “X” for the Simca Aronde P60 and Morris Minor models
The 185/70 VR 14 XAS for the Alfa-Romeo Giulia, Alfetta, Spider and Citroën CX models
Classic or just old?
According to the Fédération internationale des véhicules anciens (FIVA)
a car must meet the following criteria to be classified as a historical vehicle:
Be at least 30 years old
Be well maintained in good historical condition
Not be used for daily transportation
Be part of our technical and cultural heritage