Japanese military victories in the Pacific brought a screeching halt to U.S. imports of natural rubber from what was then called Malaya and the Netherland Indies. These were the only sources of natural rubber in the world, and the U.S. had less than a one-year stockpile when the war began. Synthetic rubber production was still an infant industry. Recognizing that rubber was crucial to both war machines and the production and hauling of war materials, the government rationed the sales of new tires on January 5, 1942.
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