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Dunlop celebrates a proud 120 year history

An icon of the road and the choice of racing legends Dunlop has played a significant part in motoring development since John Boyd Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre in 1888.

Dunlop's success story does not start on four wheels or even two, but on three. In 1888 Dunlop's founder, veterinary surgeon John Boyd Dunlop was watching his young son Johnny riding his tricycle on solid rubber tyres over cobbled ground. He noticed that his little boy was not going very fast and did not seem very comfortable. In trying to provide his son with a smoother ride and better handling Dunlop took the tricycle, wrapped its wheels in thin rubber sheets, glued them together and inflated them with a football pump - using the top of a baby's bottle as a valve.

From this revelation he developed the first air cushioning system in history, and laid the foundation for the first pneumatic tyre. On October 31, 1888, the creative inventor patented the idea of a pneumatic tyre. A Belfast bicycle manufacturer immediately commenced production of wheels with pneumatic tyres. The bicycle developed into a means of mass transport and experienced an unforeseen boom.

In 1890 Dunlop opened its first tyre plant in Dublin, Ireland and three years later its first tyre factory in mainland Europe in Hanau, Germany. In 1895 the first automobile drove on pneumatic tyres and Dunlop tyres were also being sold in France and Canada, and manufactured in Australia and the USA. By 1898 the business had outgrown its Dublin base, and production was transferred first to Coventry, England and then in 1902 to the 400-acre site in Birmingham, England - later known to the world as Fort Dunlop. In twenty years, Dunlop had made the solid tyre obsolete and grown from pioneer to the first global multinational company, manufacturing and selling worldwide.

Dunlop's history is rich with important innovations that have improved the driving experience for everybody on the road. If the discovery of the aquaplaning phenomenon, the invention of "fail safe" tyres, and the introduction of the 3S-technology stand out as highlights, Dunlop is proud of numerous other successes during the past 120 years.

1902 - Win at Paris-Vienna gives Dunlop a taste for racing Victory in the 1902 Paris-Vienna race gave Dunlop an appetite for motorsport success, and by the 1920's the company was producing tyres capable of speeds of over 300 km/h.

1923 - Dunlop celebrates its first Grand Prix victory

1924 - First victory for Dunlop and Bentley in Le Mans. This partnership dominated the decade - also winning 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930.

1927 - first Dunlop land speed record In 1927 Dunlop helps Henry Segrave to establish a land speed record of 372 km/h

1935 - Dunlop helps set another land speed record Dunlop tyres ensured Sir Malcolm Campbell's 1935 land speed record in 'Bluebird'.

1938 - Railton Mobil Special fitted with Dunlop tyres The Railton Mobil Special, designed by Reid Railton and fitted with Dunlop tyres, smashes the world land-speed record.

1947 - Dunlop tyres successful at over 634 km/h The Railton Mobil Special makes the record books again, when driver John Cobb became the first man to break the 500mph barrier on land. He held the record for 25 years.

The 1950s - Dunlop tyres good for 66 Formula One wins During the golden age of motorsport, Dunlop tyres achieved sixty six Formula One wins with eight world champions

1964 - Innovative Dunlop tyre first to help prevent aquaplaning Dunlop technician Tom French patents a breakthrough advance in tyre tread design. The Dunlop's SP 41 radial ply tyre, gave drivers protection from aquaplaning by including a system of 'microslots' that soaked up surface water like a sponge and expelled it later.

1972 - Dunlop develops the first 60 series steel belt tyre

1973 - World's first 'fail safe' tyre by Dunlop. Dunlop creates Denovo - the world's first 'fail safe' tyre - giving driver's total long-distance and high-speed control, even following punctures or blowouts.

1994 - Dunlop ultra light construction belt tyre a world first Dunlop presents the first ultra light construction belt tyre. It reduces the vehicle weight by about 12 kg. Development of the Instant Mobility System (IMS) as a substitute for the spare wheel - in case of a puncture a latex compound is injected into the tyre sealing it.

2002: Dunlop wins 100th consecutive 250cc Motorcycle Grand Prix Dunlop riders have won more than 50% of all the 2321 Grand Prix held, collecting 105 World Championship titles along the way.

2008: Le Mans - 85 years of Dunlop wins Le Mans is the oldest, toughest and longest race in the world. In all, 34 of the 71 Le Mans 24h races held have been won on Dunlop - more than any other tyre company.

Over the past 120 years, Dunlop's impressive innovation and motorsport track records have ensured that it continues to enjoy an excellent reputation across the globe. The company's objective remains to continuously produce better products to enhance the performance of vehicles and the driving experience of its drivers. Thus Dunlop looks forward to offer driving enthusiasts yet another 120 years of driving enjoyment.

March 2008