Pirelli brings back its cross-ply tire for classic vehicles

Pirelli brings back its cross-ply tire for classic vehicles

Stella Bianca returns, but with modern technology

Vintage 1931 Stella Bianca tire poster

Tire manufacturers have made much of the fact that their modern radial tires are designed to look like the tires that were original equipment on older cars, but after more than 50 years producing radials, Pirelli is making cross-ply (bias ply) tires for classic owners who want tires with “an original look and feel, but still capable of offering modern advantages.”

Pirelli is bringing back the Stella Bianca, which, it says, is “the tire that revolutionized the industry” when it was introduced in the 1920s. 

“Urged on by manufacturers such as Ferrari and its renowned Classiche department, Pirelli has created a new tire for the Collezione family and launched it at the Padova Classic car and bike show in Italy,” the company said in its news release. 

“As a result, a historic name is reborn: Stella Bianca, which was Pirelli’s longest-lived tread pattern and the first modern tire in the Italian firm’s history, introduced in 1927.”

Initial production of the Stella Bianca ended in the 1960s as radials took over the industry.

Alberto Ascari’s Ferrari leads Guiseppe Farina’s Maserati in the 1949 Swiss Grand Prix, which Farina won on his Pirelli tires

“Today the Pirelli Stella Bianca tire returns to the market: looking identical to the original design, but with modern technology inside,” the Italian tire company said. “The compounds used reflect the best of Pirelli’s technology to guarantee efficiency, safety in wet conditions, and respect for the environment. The tire construction however honors past traditions, namely Pirelli’s cross-ply tire production from a half century ago instead of radial tires. 

“This choice helps recreate the latest Stella Bianca tire to guarantee the dynamic originality of the cars it will be fitted on. This decision posed a particular challenge for the Izmit factory in Turkey, where Pirelli’s motorsport and Collezione tires are made, as they effectively had to re-learn the techniques of the past.

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“The tread pattern of the new Pirelli Stella Bianca is identical to that of the original, having been redesigned with the help of the Pirelli Fondazione archive, which keeps all the company’s historic documents. The sidewall markings as well as the Pirelli logo of the time have also been recreated perfectly, with the development team having scrutinized the Fondazione archives closely. 

Pirelli advertised its Stella Bianca tires at the 1937 Grand Prix of Finland, where some spectators watched the race from rail car parked as temporary grandstands

The new Stella Bianca

“The size chosen for the Pirelli Collezione Stella Bianca is the most common size for classic sports cars – the 6.00-16 – while the tread echoes that of the original Corsa variant, which offered specific characteristics to ensure optimal grip and resistance to stress, which also made it suitable for competition use.”

The new tires will be available in the North American marketplace in January, 2019, a company spokesperson said.

Originally, the Stella Bianca was developed for use on vehicles such as the 1921 Alfa Romeo 20-30, Diatto Tipo 30, Itala 61, Lancia Lambda and other vehicles. 

“The product was sufficiently ahead of its time that it was still being fitted to cars such as the Ferrari 166 or Jaguar XK120 in the 1950s,” Pirelli noted.

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As part of its announcement, Pirelli shared this 11-minute vintage video from 1949. It’s in Italian, but we think you’ll enjoy it. 

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