1967 toyota 2000gt – DOC663097
There have been cars built in Japan for quite a long time, but the Japanese automotive industry as we know it today is a much more recent phenomenon. Prior to WWII, the cars built in Japan were mainly foreign companies setting up local manufacturing operations. Japanese companies really tackled new cars themselves after the war, but for a long time, they were only building cheap economy cars, and most of the designs were copies of older cars from foreign manufactures. Sports cars were tiny things with engines under 1 liter and were produced in very small quantities.
All of this historical context is important because it helps to show just how big of a revolutionary moment it was in 1965 when Toyota first showed the 2000GT at the Tokyo Motor Show. The car actually started out as a partnership between Nissan and Yamaha, but when Nissan decided to pass on the Yamaha design, it was just taken over to Toyota. Even among Japanese manufacturers at the time, Toyota was a pretty conservative company. But the company brass recognized the 2000GT as an opportunity to shake up its image, and maybe even change the way that people outside of Japan looked at Japanese cars in general.
The looks of the 2000GT are most usually compared to those of the Jaguar E-Type, with this also being the car’s biggest competitor. And the “coke bottle” styling is indeed similar in a lot of ways. But the origin of the styling is in fact the Sports 800, a tiny sports car made by Toyota that debuted in 1962. With the 2000GT, the styling was essentially just scaled up until the car was big enough to fit the much larger engine under the hood. This had the added benefit of making the car exceedingly gorgeous. The curvacious fastback with its mirrors way out on the fenders is today an icon of Japanese styling, even with the faint European flavor it has to it.
The interior of the 2000GT is just as much of an elegant timeless classic as the exterior. It’s all wood and leather and it has a definite sporty look to it. The design has a very modern look to it, possibly even more so than the designs of the interiors on the European cars the 2000GT was competing with. This particular 2000GT also has air conditioning. It’s something that wasn’t an official factory option for the car, but was offered as a dealer-installed option, and one that quite a few buyers at the time opted for.
It’s not entirely clear whether this car had it installed at the time of purchase or if it was done later, but it is a period-correct unit. The one drawback was the car’s famous lack of headroom. It was okay for most people, but the very tall had a difficult time fitting. One such tall person was Sean Connery, who at 6’ 2” couldn’t fit in the 2000GT that was selected to appear the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. Toyota had to make a pair of roofless versions of the car for the movie, complete with a mock convertible top folded up in the back. It wasn’t actually functional as a convertible though, and no production convertible was ever made.
The 2000GT came with a 2.0-liter engine under the hood, something you may have already surmised from the name. The inline-6 actually came from the Toyota Crown, a sober sedan that had served as the company flagship. Yamaha took that engine and set to work wringing more power out of it. Given a new twin-cam head, the engine turned out 150 horsepower. And since the car only weighed 2,400 pounds, this power was enough for a top speed of 135 mph. For a little historical context, the fastest car in the world in 1965 topped out at 165. To bring the 2000GT to a stop, there were four-wheel disc brakes as standard, a first on a Japanese car.
The 2000GT itself might have been a big departure from the rest of the Toyota lineup at the time, but Toyota still took a fairly conservative approach to selling it. Only 351 units were build from 1965 to 1970, and about two-thirds of them stayed in the Japanese domestic market. This car, a 1967 example, was one of those cars that stayed in Japan. Export models are worth more, particularly the 62 units built in left-hand-drive. One such left-hand-drive car hold the record for the most expensive Asian car ever sold at auction, coming in at $1.2 million. This one isn’t expected to go for quite that much, but being a well preserved example of the historically significant car, RM Auctions is estimating that it will go for $800,000 – $900,000.
It debuted four years before the 2000GT and cost $1,000 less, no wonder the E-Type was such a huge success. The car is considered one of the standout examples of design in the ’60s for not just cars, but for all of design in general. The Daily Telegraph named it the most beautiful car of all time, and Jeremy Clarkson said it was “the essence of British excellence.” That Toyota was able to sell any units of a car competing directly with the E-Type is a testament to how good it really was.
Chevrolet Corvette C2
The C2 Corvette that the 2000GT competed with was an incredibly cool car. Not only that, but it put out more than twice the horsepower and cost a whopping $2,500 (almost $19,000 in today’s money) less than the Toyota. For those that couldn’t afford a 2000GT, or just simply couldn’t find one for sale, the Corvette was the perfect car to make you forget that you ever wanted anything else.
When asked to name what he thought was the best Bond car of all time, Daniel Craig picked the 2000GT. Considering all of the cars from Lotus and Aston Martin that he had to choose from, this is pretty monumentally high praise. But it’s not difficult to see why, the car is exceedingly good looking, and offered performance never before seen in a Japanese car, not by a long shot. It was such an important move for the Japanese automotive industry that even the aborted attempt to build the car at Nissan eventually led that company to build the Datsun 240Z, another icon of Japanese performance. The 2000GT was a turning point, but more importantly, it was an amazing car in its own right.
- Extremely good looking
- Timeless interior
- Icon of Japanese performance
- Very rare, especially in left-hand-drive
- An E-Type would be a lot cheaper
- Not for the tall