Rejected by Nissan, the Toyota 2000GT was a roaring success.
Touted by many as ‘the’ best looking Toyota ever produced, the 2000GT broke cover at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965. The curvaceous two-seated beauty even starred in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
The Japanese market had never witnessed such a luxurious sports car, focusing primarily on the smaller inexpensive economy cars. Europe, on the other hand, were producing two-seater machines that provided a more lucrative outlet for manufacturers looking to broaden their investment opportunities.
Eastern Asian cynics were less than keen to embark on this sporty ‘out of body’ experience, which meant an enormous leap of faith had to be taken if this was to be achieved.
The chosen 2000GT was never actually Toyota’s project. Yamaha, who were recognised for their two-wheeled experience, decided it was time to dip their metaphorical development toes into the sports car sector. The company and Raymond Loewy designed the unit, then presented the concept to Nissan, who decided the idea was not for them.
Yamaha then turned to its second choice manufacturer Toyota, who stepped up to the plate and took on what was then a massive gamble in a market they had little experience of.
Project leader Shoichi Saito said:
“Do whatever necessary to not only produce the 2000GT but make it one of the – or perhaps even the – greatest car in the world.”
6 Cylinder Engine
Powered by the trusty 6 cylinder engine found in the Toyota Crown, but tinkered and adapted with double OHC’s, the GT was boosted to a mighty 150hp. It was indeed a car with sprint finish ability and lines to die for.
Following the frugal production of only 337 being built and priced at a then quite hefty $7,000, the car was a difficult sell to its potential customers, who were already shelling out a whopping $1,000 less for similar competition.
Offered By Sotheby’s
This particular rarity was offered by Sotheby’s after leaving the ownership of a certain Mr Fujita. Driven but limited mileage, the car even retains an internal luggage strap bar and exterior left- and right-hand rear-view mirrors.
Of those 337 built, it’s documented that around 260 of those are now either being stored and extant.
It may have been a difficult sell back in the day for Toyota and its outlets, but this rare sports car is now in classic demand all over the world. It is simply one of the most coveted 1960s GT’s ever built.
This particular classic sold for $511,000.