Toyota 2000GT – 50 years an icon
50 years ago there was a blip in the system...
Japanese cars aren’t supposed to be beautiful are they? They’re meant to be functional and affordable, the sort of machines that have been designed and built by scientists and doctors rather than artists. 50 years ago there was a blip in the system though, and Toyota – the Mr. Sensible of car manufacturers – created a car more beautiful than the Jaguar E-Type, and they named it the 2000GT.
Since May of 1967, the 2000GT has been the brightest star in a galaxy of Japanese cars and is one of the most desirable classic on the market. Just 351 of the stunning little GT cars were made and prices have topped seven figures in recent history, making it extremely difficult to come into possession of one. Considering what it’s worth now, it’s pretty hard to believe the humble start to life this car had.
Originally, Yamaha – a company more famous for motorcycles and keyboards than cars – was the brains behind the project that would go on to spawn the 2000GT. They had another client in mind though, and it went by the name of Nissan. To Yamaha’s surprise, Nissan passed up on the opportunity to have the 2000GT for itself and instead began to focus development on its Fairlady ‘Z’ sports car. With that decision by Nissan, Toyota found itself with one beautiful big gift dropping into its lap courtesy of Yamaha. With a desire to show that Toyota could produce beautiful, sporty, and desirable cars as well as regular family run-arounds, Toyota lept at the chance to produce the 2000GT, and from there on in the rest is history.
Famed for that beautiful exterior, the 2000GT’s beauty wasn’t just skin-deep. Trials with a prototype at the Yatabe high speed testing course in 1966 yielded three world records and thirteen new international records in speed and endurance, a mighty effort over the course of an event that lasted over 72 hours. Over the course of that event, the 2000GT managed to average over 128mph – a tribute to the quality of its construction.
Toyota can of course take credit for the achievements of the 2000GT, but the car was actually sent back to Yamaha to produce under contract. It’s actually Yamaha’s skilled workers that we have to thank for the stunning end product, even though the car is still absolutely a Toyota. By the time the production-ready car was rolling out of the Yamaha factory in 1967, it had already proven itself as a highly capable machine, and the 150bhp 2.0-litre six-cylinder engine gave impressive performance. 62mph was reached in 8.6-seconds, which was a decent amount of pace back in the late 60s. Understandably, the 2000GT had many suitors waiting with wallets wide open.
Production only lasted for three years, and though the 2000GT cost more than a Porsche 911 and a Jaguar E-Type in period, it now looks like one of the great car investments with 2000GTs now fetching around £1,000,000 in auctions. The Toyota 2000GT is perhaps the most striking and desirable car ever to come out of the Land of the Rising Sun, and so much more than a “Japanese E-Type”. If you’re lucky enough to see one, you can be sure you won’t ever forget it.
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