This $2.535 million Toyota 2000GT is the most expensive Japanese car sold at auction

Matt Tierney

Well, that didn’t take very long. Just three months after we cast our prediction that a Japanese car would sell at or more than $2 million at auction sometime in the new year, Gooding & Company unloaded a 2000GT race car for a blockbusting $2.535 million at Amelia Island. A Toyota? For Ferrari F40 money? You betcha.

Actually, this isn’t F40 money—it’s even more cash than that. The 2000GT’s $2.535 million could have bought you an F40 at the same sale and had enough left over for plenty of gas, tires, at least one major service, and a nice Ferrari-branded jacket; Gooding also dragged a 1991 Ferrari F40 across its Amelia block, garnering a winning high bid of $2.452 million.

It’s a resounding auction record for both Toyota and Japanese cars in general, but this sale still proves Japanese cars have quite a distance to go if collectors hope to regularly break into the top ten most expensive sales. After the final gavel strike, the 2000GT occupied the fourth spot on Gooding’s leaderboard, behind the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150 “Teardrop” ($13.425 million), 1959 Porsche 718 RSK ($2.975 million), and 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental ($2.975 million).

The Toyota trails some serious blue-chip icons, but let’s not overlook the caliber of collector cars it leaves in the financial dust. At the same sale, the 2000GT beat out a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT ($2 million), a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS ($2.1 millon), a 1959 BMW 507 ($2.15 million), and a 1965 Porsche 904/6 ($2.205). That’s just for Gooding; $2.535 million puts this white Toyota at the number ten spot for the entire three-day auction block.

Impressive, but don’t expect to see 2000GTs reach the same stratospheric value in the near future. This is very much an outlier sale, considering this is the first 2000GT to carry a serialized number and serves as a genuine slice of Carroll Shelby’s history. That, and the lucky duck who cast the winning bid also won themselves an open ticket to some of the top vintage racing and concours events in the world.

Hey, a record’s a record. Now, we’ve come full-circle; it’s been nine years since a different 2000GT became the first seven-figure Japanese classic to sell at auction, and five years since the Japanese car record was set by Gooding at Amelia. Prior to this week’s sale, the record stood with the $1.75 million 1989 Mazda 767B sold here in 2017.

So, when’s the first $3 million Japanese classic hitting the block? We reckon you might have to wait a while; there just aren’t many Japanese cars capable of pulling in that kind of cash—yet. Keep an eye on future auction dockets for ultra-rare stuff, like one of the 2000GT drop-tops from You Only Live Twice, or a tremendously special Nissan Skyline such as the R34 GT-R Z-Tune.

Toyota-Shelby-2000GT auction interior rear three-quarter
Matt Tierney
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