TMCP #395: Tommy Lee Byrd, Coker Tires for Classic Muscle and Everything else – Ask Rick; See You at the Races?
This week our guest was Tommy Lee Byrd,Marketing and PR Coordinator for the Coker Tire Company. He is from Tennessee and was referred to us by Mike Finnegan. He grew up around drag cars and racing so when he went off to college he just wanted to be around cars. Tommy’s dad even sold everything he could to buy him a 64 Corvette coupe as a gift. He also owns a 1964 Chevelle that is his “Grandma car” and just plain fun to drive around in.
Coker tire got it’s start in 1960 when Harold Coker purchased a BF Goodrich dealership in Chatanooga TN and got access to the manufacturer of tires. He started ordering special build tires for antique vehicles made from antique tire molds. He either had the rights to use the name of the old tire manufacturers are he simply put Coker on the sidewalls and a brand was born. The family would go to car shows and advertise the tire at events catering to that market. Coker built up it’s collection of old tire molds after they were discontinued by the manufacturer.
Tommy Lee Byrd with his daughter and his 64 Corvette
By having contacts at the major tire manufacturers, they were able to make agreements to continue using the brand names on the tire made with these old molds. Tommy said that the radial tires with wide white walls that look like originals has really been Coker’s trademark over the years. Modern radials have better ride and tire life and really enhance the old vehicles in comfort and safety. The original Coker radial was the companies own design to be like the classic tires customers were looking for. Coker’s American classic tires are made in the USA using Coker molds.