Ahead of its time and arriving at the 12th Tokyo Motor Show like an automotive bolt of lightning out of the blue, Toyota’s gorgeous 2000GT was built in less than a year and in record-breaking development time.
Those attending the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, which opened on October 29, 1965, could never have realised they were in the presence of such a mammoth shift in the automotive industry by a company that had yet to dip its careful toes into the global sports car market.
Futuristic curves, extended bonnet and a modern powerful 2.0-litre inline-six-cylinder 150 horsepower engine meant the eye-catching GT immediately outclassed anything it’s western sports car rivals could throw in its jaw-dropping direction.
The Toyota 2000GT is the holy grail of practically all Japanese cars.
I turned up at the Toyota enthusiast club and they were almost on the ground paying homage…
Rumours surrounding the first high-performance racer from Toyota had been circulating since the beginning of 1965, but the story begins with Yamaha, who decided it was time to design a sports car after years of producing motorcycles – not Toyota.
It was Yamaha and Raymond Loewy who decided to pitch its enthusiastic idea to Nissan who showed little interest, so the car was then marketed to second choice Toyota, who saw this small sports car as an opportunity to showcase its forward-thinking intentions. This was a bold move by the marque, a company that had never contemplated producing a sports car and were intrinsically linked to conservatively designed automobiles.
More than 20 international sports cars made their debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, but the Toyota 2000GT alone received the all-important license to immortality before series production even began.
Do whatever necessary to not only produce the 2000GT but make it one of the – or perhaps even the – greatest car in the world
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.
Whilst the car appeared onscreen for only a small portion of the film, it monumentally increased the 2000GT’s exposure to the public, along with Toyota’s in the process.
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Toyota initially planned to produce and sell nearly 1,000 examples annually, but by the time production ceased in 1970, only 351 examples had been built, which has subsequently driven prices of the desirable Gran Turismo through the roof.
It was reported that many potential buyers found it difficult to justify the $7,000 cost of the 2000GT, which at the time was $1,000 more expensive than a Jaguar E-Type or Porsche 911 and over $2,500 more expensive than a Corvette, especially considering that Jaguar, Porsche, and Chevrolet were much more established, especially in the United States, than Toyota was at the time.
The curvaceous two-seated beauty is indeed a car with sprint finish ability and lines to die for, but the timeless leading lady is one that cannot be bought cheaply…
Image courtesy RM Sotheby’s