Before 1978, no one thought Japan had a shot at challenging Europe’s reign on wet performance passenger tires. Then Yokohama Tire introduced the world to ADVAN and put Japanese ultra-high performance tires on the map.
The name “ADVAN” actually originates from “advance” to symbolize Yokohama’s commitment to pushing Japanese tire technology forward. Prior to the debut of the first tire in their line-up, the ADVAN-HF, there was no other sports radial tire in the Japanese market. With a particular focus on drivers who demanded superior performance from their tires, ADVAN flourished in the early 1980s when their very own race car claimed its first victory in the All Japan F2 Championship, cementing the iconic ADVAN race livery’s place in motorsport history.
As the ADVAN-HF radial tire continued its evolution in the passenger car market throughout the 1980s, so did the presence of ADVAN in both Japanese and European motorsports. Yokohama secured its spot as the exclusive tire for the Group C category in the World Endurance Championship, and, in 1984, ADVAN laced up on a competition vehicle for the first-time at the Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance Race—finishing third in its first attempt.
TEAM ADVAN was on the fast track towards the end of 1987 when their Porsche 962C, driven by Kunimitsu Takahashi and Kenji Takahashi, won its third consecutive All Japan Endurance Championship. Multiple All Japan Touring Car Championships for Group A Division 3 came during this time, as well as touring car championship achievements abroad in the UK, Italy, and Australia.
In 1990, the ADVAN A-22H1 tire was introduced as a standard equipment tire for Honda’s debuting supercar, the NA1-chassis NSX. The following year, Kenjiro Shinozuka became the first Japanese competitor to win a World Rally Championship event behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 on ADVAN rubber.
Many Japanese automotive aficionados are familiar with the famed race-bred A050 and A052 tires in the 21st century, but it was in the early parts of the nineties when this lineage was introduced with the ADVAN A021R. Many iterations of this tire followed throughout the decade as development in the performance tire sector grew. By 2000, enthusiasts and pro-drivers alike who spent time racing on the circuit were introduced to the new ADVAN A048.
Yokohama saw an extraordinary amount of success throughout the nineties, with different competition vehicles all over the world sporting ADVAN. The high-performance tire brand started making its presence known in North America when it won championships in the GTS, GTU and FIA-GT2 Classes of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).
In 1995, Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima became the first Japanese driver to ever win the overall championship in the 73rd Pikes Peak International Hill Climb while on ADVAN rubber.
The car he accomplished this great feat with was one that every kid with a Sony Playstation copy of Gran Turismo would know; the obscure twin-engine Suzuki Escudo. With its winning footprint placed on major events worldwide like the WRC, Le Mans 24 Hours, Pikes Peak Hill Climb, IMSA, and more, Yokohama had its sights set back at home on challenging the Japan Grand Touring Car Championship (JGTC) which formed earlier in 1993.
ADVAN continued to advance forward, dominating the GT300 class of the JGTC series in back-to-back years with the Team Taisan Porsche Carrera RSR in ‘96 and the Manabu “Max” Orido-piloted RS-R Racing/Bandoh Nissan Silvia S14 in ‘97. They would return to the podium once again in 1999 with yet another GT300 championship with ADVAN tires on the Momocourse Racing Toyota MR-2.
The same Team Taisan Carrera RSR would also win its class at the Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance Race in 2000. Using an ADVAN tire specifically-developed for Le Mans, Yokohama helped Team Taisan accomplish this win on their first attempt. However, their global success in motorsports never stopped them from further development of performance-oriented passenger tires.
Not only was ADVAN’s A0-series improving year-after-year, 1995 saw the unveiling of the NEOVA, which was the first passenger tire launched with no straight groove in its tread pattern. The ADVAN NEOVA was met with critical acclaim as a premiere street sports tire, lauded for its supreme performance in both wet and dry conditions.
ADVAN solidified itself as Yokohama Tire’s global flagship brand in 2005. The brand line-up expanded while it continued to be a force in motorsports worldwide. That same year, ADVAN experienced dual victories in both the GT300 and GT500 Classes in the inaugural race for the Japanese Super GT Series (formerly JGTC). 45 years after the first ADVAN tire’s release, the brand has become woven into the proverbial fabric of Japanese tuning car culture.
The current A050 high-performance race tire is the preferred, unspoken spec-tire, of enthusiasts in Japanese time attack. In North America, Yokohama ADVAN has built a reputation of being a premium tire company known for its quality, performance, and cutting-edge technology.
To commemorate the 45th anniversary of ADVAN, Yokohama Tire hosted a special display at the Japanese Automotive Invitational during the 2023 Monterey Car Week. Parked within Concours Village at Pebble Beach, California were a collection of lightly-modified Japanese tuning icons in matching white.
The first being a Spoon Sports-themed Acura Integra Type R (DC2), followed by an ‘80s-era Toyota Corolla GT-S (AE86), and an imported Nissan Skyline GT-R (BNR34). All were adorned in white for uniformity and displayed to represent front-wheel, rear-wheel, and all-wheel drive, respectively. Offering some contrast to the trio were two heavily-modified Honda S2000s both created by Evasive Motorsports from Southern California. One was a 2023 Pikes Peak Hill Climb competition vehicle and the other a bespoke one-off interpretation of what a “Type R” version of an S2000 would be had Honda ever produced it.
This collection served as an homage to the passenger and competition vehicles from Japan which helped to shape ADVAN’s success over the span of 45 years.
Throughout its illustrious history, Yokohama ADVAN has evolved to meet the changing demands of the automotive industry while maintaining its focus on delivering high-performance tires for various driving applications.
Written by: Joey Lee