Whitewall Tire Paint
for Diagonal (Cross-Ply) Tires

Örn Sigurðsson / orn@forlagid.is / Iceland

View Örn's Mercedes-Benz Pontons


The story began when I wanted to put wide whitewalls on my black 1956 Mercedes-Benz Type 190 Ponton sedan. I was reading the articles about tires and wide whitewalls, [1] and realized I had the same problem as Scott Gordon.[2]

In the early 1980s, when I owned my gray 1959 Mercedes-Benz Type 190 (see link above), I managed to import 3.5" white rings from J.C.Whitney. When I bought the black Ponton, the white rings had been discontinued for many years, and could not be found anywhere. I had new 6.40-13 diagonal (cross-ply) tires, but disliked the black walls. Finally, I introduced my problem to a friend who is a chemical engineer, and together we managed to make a white rubber-paint that is elastic enough to be painted on all kinds of tires and does not crack or peel off.

Now I drive my black Mercedes-Benz Ponton with the 3.5" wide whites thanks to the heavy-duty rubberized paint. I have also been able to help some friends in the Antique Automobile Club of Iceland, who are now able to paint all four tires for a few dollars, compared to the $1,000 cost of importing U.S.-made wide whitewall tires. Even some motorcycle enthusiasts in California found out about this product and are now ordering the paint to use on their vintage cycles. If some of our Mercedes-Benz Ponton friends are interested, I can arrange to have some cans made up.

The inventor of the whitewall tire paint with his 1956 Mercedes-Benz Type 190 Ponton sedan

Me with my favorite Ponton photograph, which was taken in Sindelfingen in 1956.
I think my 190 sedan is there somewhere!

The whitewall tire paint was developed and produced in Iceland by myself, with the help of a chemical engineer friend. Originally the paint was oil-based, but we have since developed a new, water-based formula, which is stronger than the previous one. It is also easier to use and can be thinned with water.

This paint is perfect for diagonal (nylon) tires, but the soft sidewalls on radials will cause cracking on some types. So I recommend the White Tire Paint (WTP) only for diagonal (cross-ply) tires — even though it can be used on radials, but then only on the responsibility of the owner.

Focus on the whitewall tire

Detail of the whitewall tire paint

Application Instructions

  1. Tires must be inflated with normal air pressure when painted.
  2. Sand the tires and clean extremely well with a silicone remover (spirit wipe) available in all shops selling auto paint.
  3. Stir the paint. If necessary, thin with water.
  4. Use a Poly (foam) brush or fine-haired paint brush to minimize brush marks.
  5. Paint four or five thin coats and let each coat dry for six hours.
  6. Clean the brush with water.
  7. Polish the whitewalls with auto polish to keep dirt and water off.

Applying the newly formulated, water-based whitewall tire paint.
Courtesy: Haraldur Arnarson / 1956 Buick Special / Iceland

The paint is applied with a Poly (foam) brush or a normal paint brush with fine hair to minimize brush marks. For best results, it is good to paint four or five thin coats.

There is a strong possibility that the tires will show a brown (or yellow) colored rubber-softening material through the paint. Five layered paint will reduce this discoloration. If the tires are brand new, this might be a problem. Then six or even seven thin layers of the paint is needed to close in this brown softening material.

If the plan is to spray the paint, just use water as a thinner.

To help keep water and dirt away, it is good to use car wax on the tires, two or three layers before the first drive. It is also a good idea to have tire cleaner in the car — to clean all dirt and grease from the whitewalls after a journey to the countryside.

High pressure radial tires on a 1956 Buick Special painted with whitewall tire paint.

For Best Results

  • Before painting, sand the tires and use a silicone remover (Spirit Wipe) to clean the tires and get rid of all dirt and silicone.
  • Paint the tires with five layers of WTP.
  • Use the Westley's Bleche-Wite and a sponge to clean off dirt and discoloration from the whitewalls.
  • To achieve a "perfect" curved paint line, it is best to outline the desired whitewall area using common automotive painter's tape (pin stripe tape).
  • After painting, the painted outlines must be scored to prevent tearing the paint upon removal of the tape.

  • Contact / Price / Payment / Distribution


    Pargas Ring och Service Ab, Johan Gröndahl

    VeteranImporten, Gorm Wæhrens

    Unneberg Bil

    United Kingdom and Ireland
    The Rust Shop

    The Netherlands
    Cafe Racer Onderdelen


    MATTHYS Quality Equipment bvba

    N.V.S. Distribution

    Spain / Portugal / Italy
    Anvil Europe s.l.

    Russia and nations of former Soviet Union
    Vladimir Vozovik

    Romuald Biaecki at RB Model

    Australia / New Zealand and Oceania
    Bad Penny Customs

    Natty Motorcycle

    József Nagy

    South Africa
    Wade Kidwell

    Mexico and Central America
    Guillermo Jackson

    Pinid Savetnawin

    Suhaimi Osman

    Jalopy-Shop Pvt Ltd.


    [1] Tire Guide Discussion II by Doug Broome
    [2] Wide Whitewall Tires by Scott Gordon


    H.Orville Berwick
    Maryland (USA)
    mb_tire_paint_1947_Dodge.jpg (38827 bytes)
    1947 Dodge
    Tacoma, Washington (USA)

    Darren Pearsall
    San Francisco, California (USA)
    mb_tire_paint_scooter_utah.jpg (47789 bytes)
    Breck Sargent / Utah (USA)

     Restored 1959 Goricke bicycle
    George Gazis / Athens, Greece

    Justin Maclarern of New Zealand sent this photo of his motorcycle.

    Honda Valkyrie
    Jose Jacobo / California (USA)

    This BMW replica is actually a 1983 Russian-made Ural nicknamed, Olga
    Walter Nicholl / Australia
    mb_tire_paint_letter.jpg (20279 bytes)
    A letter of appreciation from
    Ontario, Canada

    Yamaha Virago 535
    T.M. Ali / Kuala Lumpur

    Street Thunder
    ~ January 2007
    Feature Article ~
    Whitewall Tires On A Budget

    1948 Chevrolet Fleetline
    Wade Kidwell / South Africa
    another photo
    (South African WTP dealer)

    Triumph Rocket III Classic
    Tom Marshall / Nevada (USA)

    Toyota Carina
    Una Haraldsdottir /  Iceland

    VW Type 1 (Käfer/Beetle)
    Thomas Nebe / Germany

    1934 Ford coupé
    Lukas Heigers / South Africa

    1973 Daimler Sovereign
    Joni Virtanen / Finland

    1966 Ford Fairlane
    Travis Pickering / Brisbane Australia

    1958 MG-B owned by Steve Eaton and Mickey Zapanta in Sydney Australia

    1962 XL Ford Falcon
    Paul Wallace / Pleystowe Australia

    2005 Ford Mustang
    Rinaldo Butera / California (USA)

    1956 Mercedes-Benz Type 180
    Emmanuel Moriau / Halle, Belgium

    1928 Model A Ford
    Lukas Heigers, South Africa

    1971 Airstream Travel Trailer
    Marshall Hall  / New Mexico (USA)

    1932 German Ford
    Hubertus Weber / Germany

    Thinus McLaren, South Africa

    Vespa scooter
    Alessandro Cicciotti
    Genova, Italia

    SA HotRods article
    South Africa

    1955 Chevrolet
    Håkan Johnson

    Honda Civic
    Sergey Khokhlov
    Tatarstan, Russia

    1963 Buick Skylark
    Maj-Britt & René Hagde

    1977 SMV Travel Trailer
    Maj-Britt & René Hagde

    Keeway Cruiser
    Ruben Dario Munoz
    Caracas, Venezuela

    1955 EMW 327 (East German BMW)
    Ari Leppälä / Finland

    1961 Mercury Comet
    Rodwin Pabello
    San Francisco, California (USA)

    2008 Smart Car Passion cabriolet
    Rodwin Pabello
    San Francisco, California (USA)

    1955 Chevrolet Bel Air
    Heriberto Mancilla
    Copiapó, Chile

    1955 Volkswagen Beetle
    Martin Wendorff Lorentzen

    1956 Ford Thunderbird
    Todd Jolliff
    Riverbank, California (USA)
    more detail

    Gitane quadricycle
    Steve Hazlerig
    Seattle, Washington (USA)

    1957 Mercedes-Benz 219 Ponton
    Frank Mertens

    Auto Roundup
    Scooter's Garage

    1986 Tiffany
    Warren Barr
    Hermosa Beach, California (USA)

    2002 Chevrolet S-10 Xtreme
    Tim Makeeff
    Kennewick, Washington (USA)

    1965 Mercedes-Benz 220Sb
    Jyrki Matikainen

    1966 Volvo Amazon "rat rod"
    Orn Hermann

    1956 Buick Special
    Haraldur Arnarson

    1970 Honda CB350
    Juha Korpelainen

    Commercial Advertisement
    Created: February 16, 2005 / Jeff Miller
    Last Update: November 20, 2014
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