1968 Toyota 2000 GT

1968 Toyota 2000 GT 1968 Toyota 2000 GT 1968 Toyota 2000 GT Coupe
Designer: Raymond Loewy
Chassis #: MF10-10219
Engine # 3M10273
Sold for $627,000 at 2012 Gooding and Company - Pebble Beach Auction.
During the mid-1960s, Toyota realized the need for a bold new sports car that could compete with the best sports car of its era, including the Jaguar E-Type and other vehicles from Porsche and Ferrari. The car was expected to be built to high levels of quality, have great performance, yet be civilized enough for daily use and eligible for export. It was also to be a suitable basis for a GT-class race car.

Toyota partnered with Japanese motorcycle giant Yamaha for the engineering of a two-liter, dual overhead camshaft six-cylinder engine based upon Toyota's cylinder block from their Crown Sedan. The chassis was based on a Lotus-style design which allowed the car to sit low and conceal fully independent suspension.

The design was handled in-house by Toyota's stylish Satoru Nozaki. It was given a low-profile fastback coupe design with unique proportions and surfacing.

The prototype made its debut at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show followed by an appearance in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Production 2000GTs arrived in showrooms in May of 1967.

The height of these sporty coupes measured just 46-inches. They had a curvaceous body and brilliantly executed trim. They weighed less than 2,500 lbs and the 150 horsepower six-cylinder engine could propel the car to 60 mph in 10 seconds with top speed achieved at 137 mph. They had nearly neutral front-to-rear weight balance and a low center of gravity. The fully independent wishbone suspension and nimble rack-and-pinion steering made these cars very controllable at speed.

Toyota set an initial sales goal of 1,000 cars per year. Unfortunately, the high cost of production meant that just 351 examples were produced prior to production ending. Around 60 examples were sent to the United States as new cars.

This Toyota 2000 GT is one of two examples that were originally delivered to the Philippines. It is a factory left-hand-drive example and one of the lowest mileage examples known to exist, showing less than 9,000 km from new. The car is painted in 2309 W Pegasus White and Yamaha Piano-supplied Mahogany dash. The current owner acquired the car in June of 2000 and had it delivered directly to the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, California, where it was displayed for three years. After being displayed, the car was treated to a sympathetic restoration which lasted from 2003 and 2006. In all, over $70,000 were spent.

In 2012, the car was offered for sale at Pebble Beach presented by Gooding & Company. The car was estimated to sell for $400,000 - $500,000. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $627,000, including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2012
1968 Toyota 2000 GT 1968 Toyota 2000 GT 1968 Toyota 2000 GT Coupe
Designer: Raymond Loewy
Chassis #: MF10-10136
Engine # 10166
Sold for $935,000 at 2013 RM Auctions - Monterey.
The Toyota 2000GT was introduced in Tokyo in 1965 and it immediately put the automotive community on notice. Toyota, and Japan, were making a statement that they could compete with the world's best producers of sports coupes. The 2000GT, however, was not Toyota's idea. Yamaha, known for its motorcycles at the time, decided to begin work on a sports car, its first venture into the automotive industry. After Yamaha had completed the initial designs for the car, the 2000GT found its home with Toyota, Yamaha's second choice for a manufacturer.

The 2000GT was designed by Raymond Loewy and had been intended as a product for Nissan, who later decided not to take on the project. So Yamaha brought the plans for the 2000GT before Toyota.

The engine found in the 2000GT was based on the inline six in the Toyota Crown. Yamaha adapted it for use in the new model by installing new double overhead camshafts. The engine produced 150 horsepower and could propel the 2400 pound vehicle to a respectable top speed of 135. Handling was impressive thanks, in part, to its 49/51 weight distribution.

More than just a GT sports car, Toyota made sure the 2000GT found its way to the track. They entered a 2000GT in the Japanese Grand Prix. In its inaugural outing at that event in 1966, the model placed 3rd. A year later, it won the Fuji 24 Hours endurance race. Toyota even sent a 2000GT to the Yatabe Test Track, where it set 15 records in speed and endurance. Carroll Shelby even raced the 2000GT in SCCA events in the United States, racking up a respectable four wins in the 1968 season, the only season it would compete under Shelby's name.

In 1967, the Toyota 2000GT played a starring role in You Only Live Twice, the fifth film of the James Bond series. Bond's Japanese counterpart drove 007 around the streets of Tokyo in a 2000GT. Connery's tall frame could not fit into the 45.7-inch tall coupe so Toyota built a targa top 200GT in order to further accommodate Connery, but producers ruled it out, because Connery's head stuck out far above the roofline. Finally, Toyota produced a convertible that fit Connery just fine, and it was used in the movie. Sadly, neither targa nor convertible ever went into production.

Production of the 2000GT lasted until 1970, with just 351 examples produced, and just 15% of those were imported to the United States. Toyota planned to produce nearly 1,000 examples annually, but sales were limited due to its cost. The price of the 2000GT topped $7,000 in 1967, which was over $1,000 more expensive than a Jaguar E-Type and Porsche 911, and over $2,500 more than a Chevrolet Corvette.

Chassis Number 10136
This car was produced on October 28th of 1967. It is a left-hand drive example wearing Bellatrix yellow paint scheme. It was destined for the United States and has always been in the hands of private owners with connections to Toyota dealers. As such, this 2000GT was always properly serviced and maintained throughout its life.

This car has been updated with a modern cooling system and custom radiator, to ensure it doesn't overheat. Currently, the car shows just 60,000 miles on the odometer.

By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2014
Chassis #: MF10L-10189
Engine # 10225
Sold for $880,000 at 2015 RM Sotheby's : Amelia Island.
Just 351 examples of the 2000GT were produced by the factory by the time production concluded in 1970, with 84 being left-hand drive. This example was built in December 1967 and sold new in Belgium, where the original owner kept and maintained the car until 1985, when it was acquired by the second owner, Karl Walterscheidt of Germany. Herr Walterscheidt decided to undertake a complete and thorough three-year restoration in 1999. After the work was completed, it took part in the 2010 Schloss Dyck Classic Days, where the car was featured as part of the Toyota display, with several other 2000GTs, and the new Lexus LFA. The owner also participated in the Nürburgring Classic rally.

The current owner acquired the car in February of 2012, and it has most recently been mechanically refreshed. The interior features an updated Blaupunkt radio, more-supportive sport seats, and a complete tool roll.

By Daniel Vaughan | May 2015
Thrilling automotive admirers, collectors and historians for over 40 years, the Toyota 2000GT was Japan's original exclusive sports car. Created in a joint collaboration by Toyota and Yamaha, this exceptional and exotic GT is still appreciated today for not only its beauty and performance but also its historic significance. Japans first supercar, the 2000GT was a limited-production, rear-wheel drive, front-engine, 2-seat hardtop coupe grand tourer. Stunning its audience, the car was first debuted to the public at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965 though it took another 2 years before it went on sale. In Japan, the 2000GT was exclusive to Toyota's Japanese retail sales channel dubbed Toyota Store. The price topped $6,800, over $1,000 more than the target E-Type.

Revolutionizing the automotive world's view of Japan, the 2000GT helped to change the current opinion that Japan was known only for cheaper, quality-lacking vehicles. Known for building family cars, or economy sedans models after French and English version, up until this point the Japanese were not known for their sports or GT cars. The arrival of the GT proved that Japanese auto manufacturers could in fact produce a sports car that was capable of rivaling similar European models.

Compared favorably to the Porsche 911, a pre-production 2000GT in 1967, Road & Track magazine reviewed the vehicle as 'one of the most excited and enjoyable cars we've driven'. With such positive publicity the Toyota 2000GT was well on its way to being the first serious collectible Japanese cars and the original 'Japanese supercar'. Today these models have sold at auction for as much as $375,000.

Much of the credit for the Toyota 2000GT goes to Albrecht Goertz, a freelance German-American designer who was a protégé of Raymond Loewy. Credited with designing the BMW 507, he had traveled to Yamaha in Japan in the early 1960's to create a two-seater sports car for Nissan. Though a prototype was constructed, Nissan chose not to pursue the project, possibly because its cost and sophistication were too high for the production and marketing plans they were making. Yamaha also worked for Toyota but at the time was considered the most conservative of the Japanese car manufacturers. Toyota accepted the proposal in an attempt to improve their image, but chose to go with a design from their own designer Satoru Nozaki.

Vividly eye catching and with a design that is widely considered to be a classic the 200GT featured smoothly flowing bodywork finished in aluminum. Pop-up headlights fronted the supercar and large plexi-glass covered driving lamps framed either side of the grille in the same fashion as on the Toyota Sports 800. Barely any bumpers at all though, unfortunately the plexi-glass driving lamp covers were easily damaged. Drastically low, the Japanese supercar measured just 45.7 inches to the tallest point of the roof. The 2000GT had a slight hint of the Jaguar E-type along with being very technologically advanced. It had a 2,329-mm wheelbase and a length of 4,176 mm.
The front of the vehicle was updated slightly in 1969, making the driving lamps smaller and changing the shape of the turn signals. The rear turn signals were also updated and made slightly larger along with some modernizations on the inside of the sports car. Some models were fitted with air conditioning and featured automatic transmission as an option. These models also had an additional scoop fitted underneath the grille, which supplied air to the A/C unit. The inside of the supercar did feature comfortable, though cramped space with luxury features that included a rosewood-veneer dashboard and an auto-seeking radio tuner. Road & Track felt that the interior of the 2000GT was up to the standard for a 'luxurious GT' stating that it was an impressive car 'in which to sit or ride - or simply admire.'

Based on the engine in the top-of-the-line-Toyota Crown sedan, the engine in the GT was a 2.0 L (121 in³) straight-6 (the 3M). This engine was completely transformed by Yamaha and featured all-new double overhead camshaft heads into a 112 kW (150 hp) sports car engine. Carburetion was completed through three two-barrel Solex 40 PHH units. Special MF-12 models, nine, were constructed with the larger but SOHC 2.3 L 2M engine. The vehicle was offered with three different final drives. Getting 31 mpg, the car was fitted with a 4.375 ratio axle and was rumored to be capable of reaching 135 mph.

Driving the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission the engine in the GT was longitudinally mounted. In a first for a Japanese vehicle, all-round power-assisted disc brakes were fitted, and also a limited slip differential. The emergency brake gripped the rear disc directly.

With figures that were comparable to first-class Italian supercar production of the time, only 351 regular production models of the 2000GT were built. The breakdown was 233 MF10's, 109 MF10Ls, and nine MF12Ls according to Yamaha and Toyota data. All vehicles were constructed by Yamaha, and it took two years for production vehicles to emerge.

The Toyota 2000GT was sold for around $6,800 in the U.S., a much higher price tag than contemporary Jaguars and Porsches. Despite their hefty cost it was believed that no profit was made on the cars since they were more concept cars, a demonstration of ability rather than a true production car. Most 2000GTs were painted either red or white, and around 60 models reached North America. Other models were estimated to have spread thinly worldwide in much the same manner.

Coming in third in the '66 Japanese Grand Prix the Toyota 2000GT also won the Fuji 24-Hour Race in 1967. The vehicle also set numerous FIA world records for endurance and speed in a 72-hour test. The record car was unfortunately destroyed in a pace car accident and was eventually discarded. This prompted Porsche to soon prepare a 911R especially to beat this record.

Competing in the CP category, Carroll Shelby would also enter a pair of 2000GTs to compete in the SCCA production car races. Originally he built three cars, including one spare. Though they performed well, 1968 was the only season the car competed in the U.S. Toyota took back one of the vehicles and rebuilt it into a replica of their record car which today still remains in Japan. The two remaining Shelby cars still reside in the United States.

Making its most famous screen appearance in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, two custom open-top 2000GT models were built. A factory-produced convertible was never offered during the car's production run. Most of the movie was filmed in Japan. The cars built for the film didn't have roofs, merely an upholstered hump at the rear of the cabin to simulate a fold top and because of this they were not ever fully functioning convertibles.

Before they decided to make fully roofless cars, building the car as a targa was first tried, allegedly due to Sean Connery's height which didn't allow him to fit into the ultra-low coupe version. This eliminated the rear side windows but retained the hatchback of the original vehicle. Unfortunately when the Targa was completed, Connery's head stuck out of the top so much that it was deemed too ridiculous looking and roofless version would have to be constructed if the car was to be featured in the film. The vehicle was mainly driven by his girlfriend; Akiko Wakabayashi in the film anyways. 45 years later, the Toyota 2000GT has become a true icon and now an integral part of the history of James Bond.

Though not as well known as the Nissan Z to the general public like later Japanese sports cars, many collectors esteem the 2000GT as quite possibly the first highly collective Japanese car. Well-preserved models can reach high auction prices, though parts availability can be a problem.


By Jessica Donaldson

1968 Toyota Models

Concepts by Toyota

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