Back before Toyota became an industrial giant turning out cars by the millions, it built an exotic sports car - the 2000GT. The design was wild, the car was hot, and only 337 were built over a four-year period.
Introduced to the public as a prototype at the 1965 Tokyo auto show, the 2000GT arrived in America in late 1966 as a '67 model. Now recognized as an early supercar, the 2000GT boasted a seven-main-bearing, 2.0-liter DOHC in-line six fed by three Mikuni-Solex side-draft carburetors and paired with a five-speed manual transmission. The suspension was an unequal-length, independent, control-arm setup; the brakes were four-wheel disc; and the steering was rack-and-pinion. The 2000GT was unlike anything else from a company that was quickly becoming known for its well-built and sturdy Coronas, mini pickups, and Land Cruisers.
In production trim, the car's 150 hp gave it a top speed of 131 mph. The 2000GT set thirteen speed and endurance records in October 1966 at Japan's Yatabe test circuit. But all that speed and style didn't come cheap. In 1968, the 2000GT's $7230 list price far exceeded those of better-known sports cars such as the Chevrolet Corvette ($4663), the Jaguar E-type ($5559), and even the Porsche 911 ($6190).
Most 2000GTs were right-hand drive, but a fraction of the minuscule production came through with left-hand drive. The low production figure also meant that most of the world was unaware of the car until its appearance - in modified, convertible form - in the 1967 James Bond film, You Only Live Twice. To own and enjoy one today, it helps to be rich and, shall we say, vertically challenged, as Sean Connery, in the guise of 007, found out. It seems that Connery was a bit too tall to fit comfortably in the coupe version of the car. After a targa proposal was drafted and abandoned, two convertible 2000GT models were created for the film. Since then, other 2000s have also been modified into open-air targas and convertibles.
Toyota 2000GTs very rarely come up for sale. In a thinly traded market, one dealer, Maine Line Exotics in Biddeford, Maine, has achieved "market-maker" status by moving a good number of the 2000GTs that have changed hands in the past few years. At press time, they had one car, a white targa, in stock. The asking price? $285,000.
The 2000GT was many great things; one thing it wasn't, however, is pure Toyota: it was developed and built jointly with another familiar Japanese industrial giant - Yamaha. So, not only does the 2000GT have economy car in its blood, it has some motorcycle, too.
What to Pay
Expect to pay more than $200,000 for fully sorted street versions. For competition models, prices will vary with history and condition.
Two-door, two-passenger hatchback (although a handful of 2000GTs have been modified as convertibles and targas).
337, of which fewer than 60 were originally exported to America.
Watch out for
Rust hidden in wheel-well arches and noncorrect components sourced from other Toyota vehicles.
Toyota 2000GT: the Complete History of Japan's First Supercar,
by Shin Yoshikawa, KAI,
SPARES & DEALERS
Maine Line Exotics
Toyota 2000GT Owner's Club Japan
Toyota Owner's and Restorer's Club
Toyota 2000GT Owner's Club Japan
Any 2000GT that still has its coupe roof intact. Serious collectors generally prefer originality.