At the 1962 Tokyo Auto Show, Toyota introduced the prototype for the Sports 800, called the Toyota Publica Sports. It was powered by a Toyota Publica 700 engine offering 28 horsepower. The Toyota Sports 800 was the company's first production sports car and was commonly known as the 'Yota-Hachi' which is a Japanese short form for 'Toyota 8.' It had a sliding roof system which made it one of the first production cars to feature a lift-out roof panel, or targa top. When not in use, the aluminum targa top could be stored in the trunk.
Production of the Toyota Sports 800 began in 1965 and would continue through 1969. By the time production began, the displacement size of the engine had increased to 800cc. With the help of dual carburetors, power rose from 28 to 45 PS. The car wore styling by Shozo Sata, a designer from Datsun, and Toyota engineer Tatsuo Hasegawa.
In 1967, Toyota made a change from non-synchro to synchro first gear. The following year, a grille and bumperette change was made. In the final year of production, side marker lights were added.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2015
By the time production came to an end in 1969, approximately 3,131 units were built by Toyota subcontractor Kanto Auto Works. It is believed that about 10% remain in existence. Most examples were right hand drive, but around 300 were left hand drive models. They were built primarily for the Okinawa market.