Golden Sahara II: The self-driving car with glow-in-the-dark tires

by | Jun 3, 2022 - 12:00PM | Cars

Golden Sahara II is pictured with Alex Hirschi.

This is the Golden Sahara II – it has glow-in-the-dark tires, a built-in TV and was made by the creator of the original Batmobile.

The car has so much tech crammed in you could think it was a new concept – but it was actually made in 1954.

It also has voice commands, sensor-based emergency braking and a remote control.

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Yes, a remote control. Basically, it was a driverless car built in the 1950s.

It was incredibly famous when it was first built, particularly for the glowing tires (which were made by Goodyear).

The Golden Sahara II started out as a wrecked 1953 Lincoln Capri.

Collector Jim Street spent about $75,000 of his own cash to turn it into a spaceship-looking marvel.

To do this he used the talents of George Barris.

Barris is the creator of the 1966 Batmobile, and you can see some similar stylings in the Golden Sahara.

The Golden Sahara II driver could steer with a sort of joystick yoke device, similar to an aircraft. This controlled the steering as well as acceleration and the brakes.

And the interior also had some futuristic touches too like a television (black and white, of course).

And if you wanted an ice-cold drink while you watched TV, there was a fridge in the car too.

The car featured in TV shows and movies at the time but it just faded away after a while….

The owner garaged it out of the public eye for decades.

That’s until his death when it was uncovered and sold at auction as part of Street’s estate.

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Klairmont Kollections paid $385,000 for the Golden Sahara II in 2018 and have fully restored it.

The car burst back onto the scene at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show – and the glow-in-the-dark tires are still making people take notice.

The glowing tires on the Golden Sahara II

The glowing tires are not a modern touch, they are actually from the same era as the car.

The tires are built from something called Neothane, which is basically a translucent form of synthetic rubber.

They contain internal lighting, which means they appear to glow.

This was part of broader research by Goodyear into the idea that glowing tires could help drivers see in bad visibility. They also floated the idea of tires glowing red when the driver hit the brakes.

On the Golden Sahara II, you can make the tires change colors with a button on the dashboard.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber called it “one of the most dramatic tire developments in the history of the industry”.

It was called the “tire of tomorrow”, but the idea was never put into production.

It turns out they weren’t the safest – they skidded on wet surfaces and could melt under heavy braking.


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