Published in Monterey Car Week (Toyota 2000GT)
Editor’s Note: This superlative 1968 Toyota 2000GT sold at the May 2014 RM Auctions Monaco sale for 720,000 Francs. Ever since the James Bond Dr. No film with the white Toyota 2000GT yours truly has been a fan of these well styled and engineered rare sports cars. Thank you RM Auctions for permitting Monterey Car Week to publish this article and the fine photos that you took.
Photo Credit: Kumakura ©2014 Courtesy of RM Auctions
150 bhp, 2,000 cc Yamaha DOHC hemi-head inline six-cylinder engine, triple Solex twin-choke side-draft carburettors, five-speed fully synchromesh manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel power-assisted Dunlop disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,329 mm
- Beautifully restored in dark red with chrome Borrani-style wire wheels
- Japan’s iconic sport’s car
Perhaps the attendees at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show didn’t realise it at the time, but they were witnessing a paradigm shift in the automotive industry, as Toyota had just announced the 2000GT, which is the car that would be Japan’s first entry into the global sports car market. It was a bold move by Toyota, a company that had never produced a sports car, but they wanted to show that it could compete with the automotive superpowers from Europe and the United States, and the 2000GT certainly put them on notice.
The 2000GT’s story starts not with Toyota but with Yamaha, who decided to design a sports car after years of producing motorcycles. Yamaha first marketed its design to Nissan, who ended up not taking on the project, so the car was then marketed to Toyota, who saw this tiny little sports car as an opportunity to shed its reputation of producing rather conservatively designed automobiles. Some inside the company might have considered this move to be a gamble for a company who had never sold such an automobile, but it was clear that the 2000GT could give Toyota and Yamaha’s designers and engineers a chance to compete on the world stage.
The 2000GT was powered by a 150-horsepower variant of the inline-six cylinder engine that was originally used in the Toyota Crown, and Yamaha adapted it for use in a sports car by installing double overhead camshafts. Tipping the scales at just 2,400 pounds, with a 49/51 weight distribution, it was quite light on its feet, and it could reach a top speed of 135 mph. Despite being considered the underdog, the 2000GT certainly got a lot of exposure.
Both Toyota and Carroll Shelby found success with the 2000GT on the race track. It won the 1967 Fuji 24 Hour endurance race in the hands of its manufacturer, and Shelby’s team took four chequered flags in the 1968 season with the 2000GT. One specially constructed example even found its way onto the silver screen in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, with Toyota having to produce a convertible version in order to fit actor Sean Connery comfortably. Even though the car appeared onscreen for a small portion of the film, it monumentally increased the 2000GT’s exposure to the public, along with Toyota’s.
Toyota initially planned to produce and sell nearly 1,000 examples annually, but by the time production ceased in 1970, just 351 examples had been built. Many potential consumers found it difficult to justify the $7,000 cost of the 2000GT, as that was $1,000 more expensive than a Jaguar E-Type or Porsche 911 and over $2,500 more expensive than a Chevrolet Corvette, especially considering that Jaguar, Porsche, and Chevrolet were much more established, especially in the United States, than Toyota was at the time. Whilst Toyota did not hit is goal of 1,000 examples annually, the 2000GT definitely received all the exposure it was due thanks to its racing endeavours with Carroll Shelby and its stint on the silver screen.
Chassis MF10-10174 was produced on 19 January 1968, finished in Pegasus White, and delivered new to its home market of Japan as a right-hand drive model. This 2000GT, being offered today from its native country, has recently completed a restoration, where it was repainted in a striking shade of burgundy and fitted with chrome Borrani-style wire wheels. The brilliant paint colour is beautifully accented by the chrome details on the car, and it attractively showcases the design features of this stunning sports car. Surly this would be a wonderful example to drive and enjoy, as it showcases Toyota’s brilliant European-inspired design.
The 2000GT is a hugely important car in the history of the automobile. Without the 2000GT, there might not have been a Honda NSX or a Nissan 240Z, and the industry on the whole might have looked very different from what it is today. The 2000GT shattered the preconceived notions of what the world thought a Japanese car could be, and it changed the automobile industry for the better. Collectors have finally come to realise the importance of these wonderful little sports cars, and they have become quite desirable in recent years. This 2000GT oozes a sporting elegance that is wonderfully stated by its dark red paint and Borrani-style wire wheels, which work to accentuate its brilliant design.