Kelsey: A lifetime distributing antique Goodyear tires
If you want vintage Goodyear tires, there’s only one place you can get them, Kelsey Tire. They’re the exclusive distributor of Goodyear antique tires.
The company is the life’s work of John Kelsey — who has run the business with his wife, Janice, for more than 45 years. That’s nearly half a century supplying tires to enthusiasts all over the world.
John Kelsey grew up around antique cars — his folks owned a private museum called The Kelsey Collection of Antique Motor Cars in Camdenton, Missouri. It closed in 1994. The small museum didn’t produce enough revenue to support two families so when John married his wife Janice, he had to find a new career.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em
According to Janice, it was a natural step for John to start an antique tire business.
“He wasn’t really interested in cars because he had all the cars,” she said.
Manufacturing a vintage tire with the exact detail of the original is no easy feat. Collectors can be a demanding clientele, insisting on perfection and authenticity in every tire. As a consequence, it can take John up to five years to build the perfect tire.
So it’s a costly business. But John had the foresight to acquire the original Goodyear molds for many of the tires he now manufacturers.
“He bought the molds from salvage yards years ago when Goodyear used to sell them for salvage, Janice said.
“They don’t do that anymore because it’s money.”
Moving history forward
Kelsey offers a range of classic tires including antique, military, performance and radial tires. You can chart the globalization of the automobile with Kelsey’s Goodyear product range.
Starting with a tire originally manufactured in 1925, the All-Weather Balloon, Kelsey manufactures tires spanning nearly 70 years. From the famous Deluxe All-Weather sculptured white sidewall with a diamond tread design, through to the Eagle Gatorback from the late 1980s, if you’re after a Goodyear tire, Kelsey should be your first stop.
All Goodyear antique tires are manufactured by Kelsey Tire in the U.S.A., in a plant in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Goodyear engineers are at the plant to ensure the best possible tire is built for the vintage cars.
“We’ve never had a problem, never had a recall,” says Janice.
Riding on the wings of Goodyear
Goodyear antique tires have widespread appeal. Kelsey Tire have enjoyed customers from all walks of life including legendary automotive designer Carroll Shelby, Jay Leno, Reggie Jackson and the late King of Thailand, to name a few. Car clubs across America rely on Kelsey Tire to provide authentic tires for their vehicles.
Hollywood came knocking with the Smokey and the Bandit movie and asked John to manufacture four sets of tires for the iconic Trans Am driven by Burt Reynolds. While it was a new car at the time of filming, the producers knew they needed the quality and stability of a vintage tire to hold up to the punishing stunt performances of the car.
While tires provided the livelihood John needed when starting his family, the business has become much more than an income. The Kelsey’s are industry icons themselves and show no sign of stopping despite being well past retirement age. At the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, they were on hand to offer advice, reminisce with old customers and acquire new customers. Whether you own a vintage car or not, it’s worth stopping by their website to have a look.