A lot of little inventions had to be created to get the car you drive now. Fire, the wheel, the internal combustion engine. All of those are lauded, though. We love fire, and engines. Everybody knows what they are, and what they do. What about our unsung heroes?

The radial tire is one such invention. When most laypeople think of tires, they think simply that – "tires." They don't really think about what goes into them, and most people just shoot for the cheapest. At most, some enthusiasts may go for something with a bit more high performance on dry tarmac or in snow, but we don't actually think about what goes into a tire.

The radial method of tire construction is a huge improvement over its predecessor, the bias ply tire. We don't need to get into the nitty-gritty of the structural differences, but what most people need to understand is how big of a revolution the radial tire was. The increases in control the radial tire provided altered car design and construction, and cars could be made lighter, faster, and they now have better control. Radial tires not only made cars faster, but safer as well. It was a revolution on many fronts.

And yet people hardly think about it. I'm sure there are plenty of other unsung automotive great inventions. What do you think has been overlooked, and why? Let us know in the comments below!

Photo credit: Don Lavange