The history of Michelin Tyres, Ltd can be traced back to 1829, with the marriage of Edouard Daubree and Elizabeth Pugh Parker.  Elizabeth was the niece of the man who found rubber in benzene.  She introduced rubber into the French Auvergne region, where she made play balls for children.  She started making them by hand, then by a machine that her husband invented.  A few years later, in 1832, Edouard Daubree and his cousin Aristide Barbier started a rubber factory in the small town of Clermont-Ferrand, France.  They made such things as: farm machinery, rubber balls, gaskets, valves, and tubing.  Thirty-one years later, they named the company Barbier Daubree & Co.  The same year, it was changed to E.Daubree & Co.  In 1867, J.G. Bideau, a local lawyer, invested in the company (which was then run by Ernest Daubree, who had taken over the business).  Since Bideau then owned almost 65% of the company, it was changed to J.G. Bideau & Co.

In 1889, two brothers, Edouard and Andre Michelin co-manage the company, and the                                      name was changed to Michelin & Co.  By this time, the plant was employing 52 people, and was producing about 200,000 rubber balls a year.  Two years later, a cyclist arrived at the plant, in need of supplies to repair the Dunlop tires on his bicycle.  After three hours of hard labor, the tire was off, and was patched.  The next morning, Edouard tested out the repaired tire in the factory courtyard.  After only a few laps around the courtyard, the tire failed again.  However, Edouard was enthusiastic about pneumatic tires, so he started experimenting with the idea.  A couple of months later, he took out his first patent.  We can thank Edouard for the pneumatic tire – its comfortable and long lasting ride.

A few years later, in 1895, the Eclair, built by Andre Michelin, entered the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris race, did not win, but was a milestone in automobile history – it was the first car to use pneumatic tires!  The following year, Edouard and Andre were at the Universal and Colonial Exposition in Lyon, when Edouard saw a stack of tires, which prompted him to say “Give it arms and legs, and it could be a man!”  Soon afterwards, Andre and Edouard Michelin had the French cartoonist, O’Galop draw a figure of tires with the Latin line “nunc esl bibendum”, which means “it’s time to drink!”  Andre also added the now infamous slogan “Michelin tyres drink obstables!”  To this day, Bibendum (also called the Michelin Man) has been an iconic symbol in the automotive world.

Edouard had to travel a lot on behalf of the company.  Most likely, he spent a great deal of his time in flea-bag hotels and eating in unappealing restaurants.  So, he decided to create a travel guide.  In 1900, the first Michelin Guide was published.  Within the first month of sales, more than 35,000 copies had been sold.  On the front cover, Andre Michelin’s famous words “This guide is born with the century, and will last as long as the century does.”  Michelin Guides are called by some “the traveller’s Bible.”  The Michelin Green Guides are oriented towards longer trips.  They include:  Historical background, art and architecture, cultural insights, as well as food and hotel information.  The Michelin Red Guides are oriented towards shorter trips, and they include:  Food and hotel information.  The Red Guide was published in 1900, and is often called the Red Guide, due to its distinctive red cover.  Michelin Must See Guides are oriented towards nature, and are often used for weekend getaways, and camping trips.  Overall, Michelin Guides are a nice additions to a trip.  Plus, almost 30 million copies of the Red Guide have been published.  Over 88 million copies of Michelin Green Guides, Red Guides, and Must See Guides have been published, so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to get a new one…

For those wanting to look at Michelin’s website, here it is:

Stay tuned for ‘Part 2’, which will include the remaining aspect of Michelin’s extensive history, as well as their criteria for their tire development, and definitions (like, what IS a pneumatic tire?).

6 thoughts on “Michelin Tires (Part 1)

  1. Thank you. I did not know the connection between the tires and the guide! Is there a Michelin woman?

  2. Thanks for all the interesting info. I didn’t know any of the history of the tire or the company.

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