Yokohama Tire has announced the GT Special Classic, a re-issue of its iconic sports radial tire from 1967. Developed in response to the expansion of Japan’s expressway system in the mid-1960s and the rise of performance cars, the original Yokohama GT Special Y350 was key in advancing Japan out of the bias-ply age.
Launched with the catchphrase “Taking the Lead in the Radial Era,” it opened the door to steel-belted tire technology, and continued to evolve into the following decade. In 1971, Yokohama launched a tubeless GT Special, and in 1975, it followed with the GT Special Sealex, which featured automatic puncture-sealing functions.
A sponsorship deal with Mitsubishi Motors saw Lancer 1600 GSR rally cars equipped with GT Specials conquer some of the harshest environments around the world. In 1976, a Lancer GSR won the impossibly tough Safari Rally across Africa, as well as the Southern Cross Rally in Australia.
The GT Special also saw sponsorship in road racing. The GT Special B110 Nissan Sunny was a familiar sight in TS Cup races in the 1970s. In actuality, though, the GT Special brand was for passenger cars — the Sunny ran either Yokohama Y-801 racing slicks or Y-802 racing tires for wet conditions.
The re-issued GT Special Classic revives the same iconic tread pattern as the original, as well as its distinctive sidewall and logo design. Yokohama says that they are constructed with the latest in tire technology, and provide a soft, comfortable ride while keeping the driving feel of a classic car. They will come in 165/80R14 85S, 175/80R14 88S, and 165/80R15 87H sizes.
The GT Special follows Yokohama’s Advan HF Type D, which the company brought back in 2017. It’s all part of an internal management plan called Grand Design 2020, which makes such re-issue tires a “core element” of the company’s business strategy. It’s an unusual move for a large company to focus on such a niche product, but it seems to be following a trend in Japan where automakers are remaking parts for historic cars like the Nissan Skyline GT-R, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Honda Beat, and Toyota Supra. So far, there’s no word on whether these tires will make it to the US.