A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Toyota 2000GT’s predecessor the not-so-pretty Toyota Sport 800, so I thought it would be appropriate to tell you more about the 2000GT, which was, without doubt, Japan’s first supercar.
It was designed by Albrecht Goertz (BMW 507 and Datsun 240Z fame) who was working for Yamaha at the time. Yamaha’s intention was to convince Datsun — now Nissan — to put the car into production, but Datsun declined the offer.
Conservative Toyota swallowed the sales pitch from Yamaha and development work began in 1965, though a finished product was not ready for the retail market until 1967.
Hand-built aluminum bodies were produced by Yamaha and mounted onto a Lotus-Elan-inspired back-bone chassis. The engine was a modified Toyota Crown in-line six-cylinder block, fitted with a Yamaha developed twin-cam cylinder head.
The rear-drive, limited-slip differential was powered through a close ratio five-speed gearbox. The vacuum-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and rack-and-pinion steering were firsts for both Japan and Toyota.
Sales were not exactly brisk due to the price — US$7,150 compared to US$5,580 for a Jaguar E-Type or US$5,590 for a Porsche 911.
Toyota considered moving away from their contract with Yamaha and mass-producing the car themselves. Having surveyed their dealers to arrive at the answer of could they sell 1,000 cars a month globally, at double the price of anything on the showroom floor? The answer was “no”.
Consequently, after three years and a total production of 351 cars with a mere 54 destined for North America, Toyota axed the 2000GT project.
Looking back at the original MSRP of $7,150 and comparing it to the current E-Type Jaguar and Porsche 911 values the Toyota is the one to own!
In 2000, the sale of a 2000GT broke the $100,000 mark ($151,000) and I’m not talking about a trailer queen, just a reasonably presented car with 96,000 km.
In 2006, a similar example sold at auction for $225,000, and in 2012 there was a considerable increase with one selling for $627,000 and the most recent sale was in August, breaking the million dollar threshold at $1.1-million.
One of the 54 U.S.-destined 2000 GTs will be offered for sale at no-reserve, at the Sotheby’s /RM Auctions “Art of the Automobile” auction in New York.
I will let you know the outcome of the sale soon.