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Pirelli & C. SpA (BIT: PC) is a diverse multinational company based in Milan, Italy. The company, the world’s fifth largest tyre manufacturer, is present in over 160 countries, has 20 manufacturing sites around the world and a network of around 10,000 distributors and retailers.



Founded 1872 in Milan by Giovanni Battista Pirelli, Pirelli initially specialised in rubber and derivative processes.The company formerly made scuba diving rebreathers.[2] Effectively, Pirelli's activities are still primarily focused on the production of tyres and cables (for energy and telecommunications). In 2005, Pirelli sold its cable division to Goldman Sachs, which changed the new group's name to Prysmian.

In the 1950s, Alberto Pirelli commissioned the building of a famous Milanese skyscraper in the same area that housed the very first Pirelli factory during the 19th century: see Pirelli Tower[3]

In 1974, Pirelli invented the "wide radial tyre", upon a request from the Lancia rally racing team for a tyre strong enough to withstand the power of the new Lancia Stratos. At that time, racing tyres were either slick tyres made with the cross ply technique (very wide tyres with a reduced sidewall height), or radial tyres, which were too narrow to withstand the Stratos' power and did not provide enough grip. Both were unusable for the Lancia Stratos, as the radials were destroyed within 10 km, and the slicks too stiff. Lancia asked Pirelli for a solution, and in 1974 Pirelli created a wide tyre with a reduced sidewall height like a slick, but with a radial structure.

Subsequently, Porsche started using the same tyres with the award-winning Porsche 911 Turbo.[4]

Today, the wide tyres are still the standard in sport & racing cars in Europe.

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