Chevrolet tried to revolutionise driving in the snow by spraying 'traction in a bottle'

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The liquid tire chain system from Chevrolet
The liquid tire chain system from Chevrolet
General Motors archive

The liquid tyre chain was available as an option during 1969 Chevrolet models only.

A polymer or 'sticky' compound was sprayed onto the rear tyres to provide grip in snowy conditions.

Around 2 600 vehicles was fitted with the option.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.

Just like the '90s and noughties was the peak for Japanese and German automakers, respectively, the '60s up until the late '80s was the twilight era for American muscle cars.

Petrolheads could revel in stretching the legs of bulky V8's that churned out brutal power figures and left thick black lines on the tarmac – Ford Mustang, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet Chevelle – the list is a long and delectable one.

Strangest designs

Besides producing some of the most iconic performance cars and halting Ferrari's dominance on the track, the '60s was also a time where automakers could enjoy more technological and design freedom.

Pontiac's GTO featured the bonnet-mounted tachometer, while the Dodge Charger Daytona's uniquely long 58cm rear wing meant it was a no holds barred affair back then.

Do you think a similar type of technology should be utilised in modern vehicles? Please email us, or share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Chevrolet is one such company that took advantage of this freedom by introducing a 'never seen before, will never see again' component called the liquid tyre chain system. What it did was spray a polymer or 'ice melt' compound to the rear tyres through boot-positioned, aerosol-shaped cannisters that essentially sprayed better traction onto the rear tyres in snowy conditions.

It was an option that was only available during 1969, with a mere 2 600 motorists having it fitted to their hardtop sedans or coupes. According to an official 1969 Chevrolet Caprice brochure, the feature could be activated by engaging a control on the instrument panel and coating the tyres with 'sticky stuff'.

READ | Are poor road conditions in SA to blame for almost 50% increase in tyre and rim claims?

While the idea made sense for snowy conditions, its use would be pretty much ineffective during the year's warmer times. Some probably viewed the liquid tyre chain option as a waste of money or just invested in a set of snow tyres altogether.

Gaining traction

Considering that around 160 000 units were produced in the US during the 1969 period, only about 2 600 people with the liquid tyre chain option fitted to their vehicles made it a flop. One of the main reasons it was shelved after only a single year.

There are numerous units still for sale on eBay for those looking to get their hands on the item locally for memorabilia purposes.

Implementing 4WD drivetrains and traction control systems (TCS) on modern performance cars virtually eliminates any hint of wheelspin. Besides places like Matroosberg, Sutherland and the Sani Pass, where snowfall is an occurrence, South Africa is a generally hot place, so any such contraption would never work successfully.

Just like the infamous Fyre Festival, the liquid tyre chain system had the making to become something good but ultimately fell flat on its face, never to be spoken about again.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Brought to you by
Voting Booth
Do you think Mercedes will return to form later in the 2022 F1 season after two poor races?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, don't discredit them.
34% - 498 votes
Who cares, F1 is exciting again!
43% - 638 votes
No, it's Ferrari's turn to dominate again.
23% - 338 votes