Rations. Practically a dirty word in times of plenty, but when the U.S. of A. was gripped in a battle against the Axis powers, it was your patriotic duty to do without, or to innovate. Donald Gilmore, CEO of Upjohn Pharma, decided to do the latter. Facing the inconvenience of rubber rations for his 1940 Cadillac, Gilmore decided to experiment with wooden tires. While we can't imagine how much fun wooden tires would be from a traction perspective, you gotta think the actual fiery burnouts would be spectacularly cool. Full history, transcribed and with amusing observations from employees, below.
"During World War II there were many kinds of rationing including food, shoes, coffee, fuel oil, gasoline and tires. Donald Gilmore, CEO of Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and founder of this Museum, felt that there must be ways to find alternatives to these precious commodities. Mr. Gilmore experimented with a number of ideas including having a 1927 Model T Ford converted to electric power and these "wooden" tires. He instructed a local craftsman to fabricate four wooden tires and had them installed on his 1940 Cadillac to show that a person could get by with alternatives during this time of great need in the country. After some experimentation, Mr. Gilmore discovered that it was quite dangerous trying to drive with four wooden tires due to the lack of traction. He then returned the car's original rubber tires to the rear wheel and continued using the wooden tires on the front. It was reported that his employees very much liked the new wooden tire idea because they could hear him coming from a mile away!"
We salute the memory of Don Gilmore, a patriot and captain of industry. These tires, along with a variety of other antiquery, can be seen today at the Gilmore Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. Now, find us a woodworker to build some of these for a real burnout contest. (Thanks to SeanKHotay for doing most of the work here)